Talk Directly to a Care Advisor

1-800-955-8510

Tips for Making the Holidays Special for Alzheimer’s Family Members

Senior Citizen and Daugher

The Holidays are a time in which we reflect on all that we are grateful for in life.  Being grateful is often easy for grandparents, as sitting around the dinner table with children and grandchildren is an instant reminder of how beautiful life can be.  But what about seniors who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?  How do we help make them feel blessed when they often have trouble remembering the names, faces and memories of the loved ones surrounding them during the holidays?  Below are several tips to help make the holidays a truly special holiday for family member suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Don’t Change the Daily Routine

Seniors suffering from memory loss often do well with predictable routines.   We know you are excited about the holidays.  Who wouldn’t be?  But try not to show too much excitement towards your memory loss family member, as it might throw them off.  You may be picking them up to take them to a family member’s house for dinner, but try not to change the daily routine up until that point.  Tell the staff at the memory care community or personal care home to stick to their normal schedule and not do anything extra or different.  Also, tell family members to not bombard grandma or grandpa with calls.  Most likely they will see them at family dinner anyways, but if they live out of town, then wait until after dinner, when they are home.

Introduce Familiar Music

Several weeks prior to the holidays, ask your loved one what holiday songs they enjoy.  Research suggests that not only does music evoke emotions that stimulates memories among Alzheimer’s patients, but it also helps to improve mood and bring emotional closeness.  Songs such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, and White Christmas, are songs from your loved ones past and typically are associated with fond holiday memories. 

Introduce Familiar Smells

Like music, the sensory stimulation of smell is connected to memory and often associated with restoring temporary awareness to Alzheimer’s patients.  Several weeks prior to the holidays, ask your loved one what some of their favorite holiday foods are.  When they come over for Christmas or Hannukah dinner, be sure to have those specific foods cooking.  Freshly baked dinner rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and smoked turkey are just several dishes that will surely scent the air when they walk in the door. 

Distract, Distract, Distract

One of the biggest challenges both Alzheimer’s patients and families will face during the holidays is it’s difficult for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia to engage in normal conversations for long periods of time.   Family members often are even more affected by this than the patient, as they are not used to seeing their loved one socially out-of-place.  Make your loved one feel involved by having them help fold napkins, mix cookie dough batter, and setting the table.  You can also play games together such as playing puzzles and games, and watch holiday cartoons and movies. 

Keep it Short

Alzheimer’s patients have a short attention span and often lack stamina.  Don’t expect your loved one to be able to handle 4 or 5 hours of holiday festivities.  Try bringing your loved around the time dinner starts and leave right after dessert.  Less time will make experience more pleasurable and reduce the risk of an outburst.

Article written by Alex Milzer with Senior Directory, LLC

Comments

Related Articles

How does Bone Density Correlate to Heart Health?

Improving bone density also improves heart health.  Learn more about this interesting...

Read Full Article

Three Reasons Seniors Should Care About Their Grip Strength

Don’t miss these three major benefits that seniors experience when they work on...

Read Full Article

Tips for People (and their Caregivers) Managing Parkinson’s Disease

People with Parkinson’s disease will often develop symptoms that impact their motor...

Read Full Article

Foods That Can Relieve Arthritis Pain the Natural Way

Incorporating these foods into your diet is also a good idea, as these can naturally relieve...

Read Full Article

6 Ways Seniors Can Combat Social Isolation

When it comes to staying engaged socially with others, don’t miss these 6 important...

Read Full Article

Tools and Resources to Fill a Dementia Caregiver’s Toolbox

It takes a special person and a unique set of skills to succeed in taking care of a person...

Read Full Article

What are Heart Catheters? Do I need one?

Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure to examine the overall health and functioning...

Read Full Article

Prostate Cancer: Symptoms and Treatment

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and as prostate cancer is the second...

Read Full Article

Is Diabetes Common Among Seniors?

Roughly 25% of seniors over 65 (12 million) have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and...

Read Full Article

Lewy Body Dementia: Symptoms and Treatment

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) affects over one million people each year in the states alone....

Read Full Article

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

Sign up for our FREE monthly newsletter to receive the most up-to-date information on caring for your elderly parent or loved one

Order your printed copy of Senior Directory today!

Still enjoy flipping through the pages of a printed copy? So do we! Click on the button below to start receiving Senior Directory right at your doorstep!

Order Your Copy

I prefer the digital copy, please.

Speak to one of our advisors 1-800-955-8510