The holidays can be the most challenging times for families whose loved one has Alzheimer’s or a related condition. Past traditions fall by the wayside and seem to highlight all that has been lost. That’s why APFC Home Care is providing these tips to help families celebrate Mom, even as she and the family are dealing with the effects of the disease.
“The main thing to remember is that the best gift you can give your mother is your time and attention,” says Brett Summerville, Managing Partner at APFC Home Care. “Even if your mother no longer recognizes who you are, the need for human connection is still there. Just spending time with her is something she’ll appreciate.”
Here are some more tips to make sure the day is something you’ll both enjoy:
- People with dementia typically like a routine. If you want to have a meal with her, do so at a time when she usually eats, preferably in familiar surroundings. If she has some favorite foods, take those with you. If you’re going out, make sure she is comfortable with crowds and does well in a different setting than what she’s used to.
- Share your memories of childhood. Many people with dementia still have a degree of intact long-term memories, so reminiscing about a past you share is a good way to connect. Take along a photo album of a past trip you've taken together or some childhood events.
- Enter her world and share her reality. If she talks about President Eisenhower, ask her what she likes about him. If she doesn't know who you are, but has memories of you, invite her to share those memories without explaining who you are.
- Try to find an activity that the two of you can do together and be successful at, such as doing a simple jigsaw puzzle, gardening, reading a story or listening to music.
- Good gifts are those that stimulate the senses, such as a soft blanket, scented lotions, a CD of her favorite music, or a photo of the two of you together. Take some fresh-cut flowers that the two of you can arrange in a vase together.
“The important thing is to be flexible enough to adjust to her mood and current reality,” says Summerville. “Just remember it’s her day and you’ll honor her with your care and attention.”