How to best welcome and take care of relatives with Alzheimer's during the Christmas holidays

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Researchers suggest welcoming family members with dementia during the holiday season 

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Researchers suggest welcoming family members with dementia during the holiday season 





Holidays can be a special time, but they can present challenges for dementia sufferers and loved ones. Traveling is tiring, being in a new place is disorienting, meeting new people while trying to remember the names of family and friends is frustrating, and following a conversation in a room full of distractions, music and laughter can be downright overwhelming.

For this the experts they have provided some tips for help make these moments as peaceful and meaningful as possible. Here are the suggestions:

  1. be prepared to adjust your expectations based on your loved one's tolerance for change. The images, sounds and smells of the holiday stimulate the senses, while the social needs and changes in routine and environment can trigger a stress response
  2. if the loved one becomes restless or anxious, take a break and move with her to a quiet part of the house, sit outside or go for a walk together.
  3. choose a quiet and comfortable place, and ask family members to approach them individually. Individual conversations are easier for the person suffering from dementia.
  4. avoid questioning your loved one. Don't test their memory, for example, never say: “Do you remember who this is?”; instead, it presents each person by name and also specifies the degree of kinship.
  5. include your loved one in the day's events. Assign them a task: fold the napkins, set the table, sort the cutlery, arrange the flowers or wrap the gifts. Value their participation.
  6. rely on memories: Your loved one's memory for past things is stronger than the short-term memory. He sings classic holiday songs, ask about childhood memories, tells family stories.
  7. stick to the routine as much as possible. If a short nap, a special TV show, or a walk is customary, try incorporating it wherever you are. Also stick to your routine when it comes to taking medications.
  8. be aware of your stress level and how you are communicating. Emotions are contagious and you may "transfer" your mood to the person with dementia. If you feel frustrated, stressed, or anxious, the person you care for will become too. If you need help, ask for it.

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Photos: Baylor College of Medicine

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