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Holidays present unique challenges for individuals with Alzheimer’s

Nov 16, 2012

Are you wondering if there are strategies you can put in place before your next family holiday get-together to minimize confusion and anxiety for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? If so, here are a few ideas and suggestions to keep in mind.


It’s important to remember that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are most comfortable with routines, predictability and structure. Holiday events can be stressful if they alter everyday routines, are over-stimulating or increase interpersonal interaction. This is especially true if those who are doing the interacting are not familiar with Alzheimer’s disease or don’t know how to interact with a person with the disease.


Click here to learn more about getting comfortable with visiting someone with Alzheimer’s disease.


Holiday traditions may need to be modified in order to include a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Plan ahead. Allow extra time. Attempt to limit the number of people who visit at one time. Plan visits during the time of day when your loved one is at his or her best. 


Other strategies that caregivers can use to make holidays more pleasant for loved ones with Alzheimer’s include:

  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid changes in routine.
  • Avoid rushing.
  • Avoid strange surroundings. Try to attend or plan activities in environments that are familiar.
  • Utilize distractions if over-stimulation becomes an issue. For example, have a small photo album on hand filled with familiar pictures.

Prepare visitors in advance. They may need to adjust their expectations of the visit. And they need to be sensitive to how this disease affects a person’s memory. You should also inform visitors of the impact the disease has had on your loved one’s ability to know what is expected and what is considered acceptable. 


Click here for more information from the Alzheimer’s Association on this subject.

By Michelle Kutner, CSW, MSW, CTRS

Specialty Service Consultant
Click here to contact Michelle


Related articles:
Tips to feel more comfortable when visiting someone with Alzheimer’s disease - By Michelle Kutner
Spending Thanksgiving alone this year?
- By Nan Brown
Beat the holiday blues
- By Marya Burns

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