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Keeping Holidays Happy When a Loved One Has Alzheimer's

SUNDAY, Nov. 24, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- The holidays can be a difficult time when a loved one has Alzheimer's disease, but there are ways to keep the season happy and memorable, an expert says.

"Making some minor adjustments to your family traditions, caregivers and their loved ones are still able to make the most of their holiday," Rebecca Axline, a supervisory clinical social worker at Houston Methodist Hospital's Nantz National Alzheimer Center, said in a hospital news release.

She offered the following suggestions:

  • Keep your family member as involved as possible. For example, open cards together, discuss gift selections or give them simple baking tasks. Try to focus on the moment rather than results.

  • Be consistent with medications and doctors' recommendations. Maintaining the structure of medications, treatments and day programs will be better for both you and your loved one.

  • Make sure living spaces are safe. For example, lighted candles may be hazardous and large blinking lights can cause disorientation.

  • Minimize overstimulation and your own anxiety, as this can transfer to your loved one. Keep activities simple, and alert your guests ahead of time about what's needed. Reduce the number of visitors, simplify plans and allow a few days before and after an event to be quiet and relaxing.

  • Look after yourself. Make a list of the usual things you do during the holidays and decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you can skip. Let others help you and be clear about what you need them to do. Include time away for yourself and things that help you restore your energy.

More information

The Alzheimer's Association has more about holidays and Alzheimer's families.

SOURCE: Houston Methodist Hospital, news release, Nov. 1, 2013