It may be hard to believe, but once again the Christmas season is upon us. Along with the joy of celebrating the birth of Christ come stressors such as shopping, decorating, baking and possibly traveling. For those who also care for a loved one suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, trying to accomplish everything while providing 24 hour care can be extremely difficult. However, if you plan appropriately, it is possible to not only maintain your sanity, but to actually enjoy the holiday season.
This time of year can also create stress for your loved one whose anxiety level can often mirror your own. Simple changes in routine can cause unexpected anxiety which may increase with the inability to verbalize what they are feeling. Additionally, it is not unusual for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for example, to become agitated or confused easily around others. In order to best achieve a Merry Christmas, the following suggestions may be helpful:
1. Try to maintain your regular routine.
2. Prepare others for the changes in your loved one’s well-being.
3. Take care of yourself. It is essential that you maintain your own health including getting the appropriate rest, exercise and food. This may require utilizing adult day care or respite care.
4. Avoid traveling long distances.
5. Avoid large gatherings or at a minimum,make sure that younger children with their television and video games will be located primarily in a separate area since loud noises or quick movements can be very upsetting to a person suffering from Alzheimer’s.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask family for help.
7. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to invitations that you may receive.
8. Be realistic. Don’t expect that you can re-create the holidays of old.
The long term health of you and your loved one depends on the decisions you make. It is therefore extremely important, particularly during the holidays, that you plan ahead. While you certainly cannot expect things to return to normal, by following the above suggestions, it is possible to enjoy the Christmas season.
May each of you have a Blessed, Happy and Merry Christmas. “For there is born to you this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11