While the holidays are typically a joyous time for family and friends, when a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s, the toll of the disease can zap the joy out of the season. However, it doesn’t have to. In fact, with a few simple tips, you can ease your loved one or Alzheimer’s patient into the holiday season and find joy for all.
With more than 5.8 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease at any given moment, know that you are not alone this holiday season if you are the primary caregiver of a loved one. Alzheimer’s Disease International asserts that every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops the disease.
Alzheimer’s can be difficult to live with, but it is also a disease that takes a toll on caregivers. According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, caregivers provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care combined each year. In addition, as the primary caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, you feel the emotional and physical toll as the Alzheimer’s patient continues to decline.
Common symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and even anger are just one component of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association finds that many individuals with early onset Alzheimer’s disease exhibit the following symptoms:
Navigating these symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging during the holiday season, but you can weather the storm with a few changes to your daily routine.
As with any type of holiday, it’s necessary to plan, but when you are caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, it’s even more important to plan ahead. Before instituting any type of holiday travel – even for a day trip – check in with family members to make sure that they can make accommodations for an Alzheimer’s patient. For example, walkways must be clear and physical accommodations may be necessary. In addition, it might be helpful to ensure a quiet space is available, especially if your loved one gets easily agitated by noise or distractions. You can also help preparing your loved one by creating a calendar of the activities planned and even breaking out old pictures of holidays past. While a person with Alzheimer’s may not remember past holidays, sharing the joy of the season can help add some sunshine to their days.
Aim for positivity when preparing for the holidays. While it is common for family members and loved ones to focus on how an Alzheimer’s patient may be losing the ability to function independently, the holidays are a time to focus on the fact that you still have this loved one by your side. Find activities that bring both of you joy over the holiday season, such as drives to see sparkling lights or an afternoon of sharing memories with each other.
Avoid trying to tackle the holidays alone. You have plenty of resources available within the community and quite possibly, within your own circle of friends and family. Ask for help when you need an extra hand with wrapping gifts, cleaning or meal prepping. As the caregiver or an individual with Alzheimer’s, you can brighten your holiday with the presence of those who care about both of you.
A physical illness or disease can affect individuals at any stage of life and age. In some cases, the symptoms may be mild, but many disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, can also be life threatening. This is why support and care is essential at the onset of any type of discomfort for your aging parent or loved one. And, a team effort ensures that you – or a loved one – will navigate chronic conditions in comfort.
It’s important to learn as much about the symptoms and care needed to help support your loved ones. Tap into resources from local and national organizations to boost your knowledge of how the disorder affects everyone involved and to also identify coping skills. In addition, lean on caregivers, such as the qualified staff from Care Indeed, to help with daily living, while coordinating palliative care.
Life with any type of illness is challenging and learning how to accept the challenge is the first step in living life. While you may struggle with grief and loss when coping with the symptoms as a patient, caregiver or family member, the support you need is only a click away.
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