Tips to navigate the holiday season

The holidays are a time of gathering. Friends, family and loves ones from all over join together to celebrate the season of joy and giving, but for families living withe Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias, the holidays can be challenging.  We have a few tips to help keep your holiday celebrations joyful and memorable, despite the challenges.

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Familiarize others with the situation
Lets guests know what to expect before the gathering. The holidays are full of emotions, so giving them advance notice of the condition of the persons with dementia will help the family be patient and understanding that the changes they see are caused by the disease, not the person.

Adjust expectations
The stress of caregiving layered with holiday bustle can be overwhelming, call a meeting with loved ones to discuss the plan for the holiday season. As a caregiver, be good to yourself. Only expect yourself to do what you can reasonably manage and do not be afraid to ask for help.

Involve the person with dementia
Finding ways best fit for your loved one with dementia to participate in the holiday season can help keep the spirit joyful. Try building on past traditions or memories that are meaningful to them. For example, singing old holiday songs or looking through old holiday photos. You can also involve your loved one in a few preparation tasks, like measuring an ingredient while baking or handing you decorations as you place them.

Adapt gift giving
Encourage your family member to give safe and useful gifts for the person with dementia. If family asks for gift ideas, encourage things that your loved one needs or can easily enjoy. For example, an identification bracelet, comfortable clothing, tapes of their favorite music or photo albums. If friends and family ask what you want, don’t be ashamed to ask for things that help you take care of yourself as a caregiver, like respite care or a cleaning service.

We hope that these tips can help you navigate the holiday season as your living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. For more detailed information click here and remember that help is available 24/7 on our helpline 800-272-3900.

 

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Remembering those with Alzheimer’s

December marks the official holiday season and festive decorations are of abundance anywhere you look- most a display of red and green, glowing with holiday cheer. Walk into Country Floral in Polo,IL  and you will find anything but your average holiday decoration. Norma, the owner of Country Floral, gives a new purpose to Christmas trees each year.  Instead of decorating the tree with expected Christmas decor, the family owned and operated florist uses the tree to honor those who have passed or are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease.

This is the third year Norma has set up the Alzheimer’s tree. When asked why she puts up the tree every year, Norma stated she became concerned with Alzheimer’s disease when her neighbor came knocking on her door one New Year’s day  after wandering around the neighborhood in the snow with no coat. He felt ashamed because he was unsure of where he lived. She also now has many friends at church who are living with or have been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Norma’s Alzheimer’s tree helps keep the memories of those with Alzheimer’s disease alive and helps raise awareness in the community of a disease that has taken so much, from so many.

The tree stands at 5 feet tall and is filled with ornaments- each one displaying a local individual’s name who has Alzheimer’s disease. In the middle of the tree lies two angels and a sign that reads “Remembering those with Alzheimer’s. In our prayers” to remind those affected by Alzheimer’s disease that they are not alone. Our annual limited-edition glass ornaments are also displayed.

We are very thankful for the support and efforts of Norma and County Floral. Norma continues to  support the Alzheimer’s Association Central Illinois Chapter by selling our 2015 Alzheimer’s Association Glass ornament in store. For a list of all location or to purchase one online click here.