Awwwwwww…… the Holidays are upon us. What do the Holidays mean to you? What is your first thought when you flip that calendar page and November stares you in the face?
My mind turns to the dreadful rush of shopping, food preparation and the gatherings of family and friends. Then it pleasantly goes back to a simpler time. Memories of our big Thanksgiving dinners at my childhood home pop into my mind. Suddenly it is flooded with the memories of my Last Thanksgiving spent with loved ones who are no longer physically on this earth. There my mind stays savoring the nostalgia and then the sadness washes over me. Of course, there are many Thanksgiving memories in between now and then. Those are not forgotten, just overshadowed by the absence of those precious family members.
After Thanksgiving, we quickly move to the Christmas festivities. For me Christmas has not been the same since my little children became young adults. The magical moments of children’s excitement are long gone. Santa. reindeer, decorating the tree and opening presents, all lose their magic. I try to concentrate on planning gatherings with family and friends. Then, of course, my mind wonders once again to the Last Christmas memories of those special loved ones who are no longer able to celebrate with us.
Those of you who have Loved Ones Living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia may also struggle with the wonderful memories of past Holiday celebrations. Then, possibly your mind wanders to, “This may be my last holiday them”. The Alzheimer’s or Dementia continues to progress and other illnesses can set in at any time. You say to yourself, “How can we make great holiday memories with the daily challenges we face?” Here are some ideas to help you and your loved ones plan a celebration to remember.
Keys to Having a Happy Holiday
- Change your expectations.
- Build on past traditions that were most meaningful to Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
- Involve your loved one as their abilities allow
- Prepare your friends and family of the changes the two of you are going through
- Decrease the size of the gathering. Encourage them to visit at different times or even different days for short periods of time.
- Have visitors wear name tags (this may help, depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s)
- If people ask about gift giving. Suggest useful gifts like favorite foods, comfortable clothing or soft cuddly items ( stuffed animals or small blankets). Don’t forget yourself. If asked, suggest gift certificates for self-care or help with household responsibilities.
- If you receive invites and your loved one is not able to attend, ask a friend or family member to sit with your loved one and go by yourself
- Stick to your loved ones routine as much as possible.
- Follow your instincts. No one knows your loved one like you do.
Hopefully, these few tips will help you and your loved ones celebrate the best possible Holidays this season. Making memories to share for years to come. Remember, you are not alone….. You can do this.