Celebrating Thanksgiving with a Loved One with Alzheimer’s


“What’s Thanksgiving?, I don’t know anything about it”.

“I forgot your name.”

“There’s too many people in here, I’m going home.”

Picture Thanksgiving dinner at your house.

Guests are starting to arrive and mom, who lives with you, has Alzheimer’s Disease, and for the past four years usually passes each day sitting quietly or taking walks with her professional caregiver, is unable to understand the meaning of the holiday that for many years, she organized, prepared, and enjoyed.

The festive activity in your house of guests warmly greeting one another, soothing and familiar aromas of traditional Thanksgiving food, an unfolding of hours’ long dinner and friendly conversation, equal overstimulating sound and activity, and a nearly impossible chance of meaningful participation for your parent who has Alzheimer’s Disease.

From the perspective of expecting holiday celebrations to follow similar patterns as those created during many years, while also living with or hosting a guest who has Alzheimer’s Disease, Thanksgiving or any holiday, a disastrous disappointment is almost guaranteed.

Since the disease is not going away, expected to worsen the spectrum of mental abilities, understanding, and responsiveness, of a person, the only factor remaining which is capable of change, is You, the reader!

The major change you’re able to reasonably introduce to your holiday customs that include an Alzheimer’s guest, will be to trust and rely on the quality of emotional dynamics which were established long ago before the disease appeared, to temper the meaning of the present tense emotions between you and the one who has this disease.

Although the mental abilities such as thinking, planning, memory, gradually fail due to Alzheimer’s Disease, the emotional memory regarding the relationship quality between the patient and close others, seems to continue.

Essentially, the characteristics of your relationship dynamic between you and the guest/ family member who has Alzheimer’s Disease, will continue.

If you and Dad, say, always had a caring relationship, then the positive feelings associated with this, are still present for both persons, despite the waning possibility of directly having intelligent conversation.

If you tap into the essential quality of the way your relationship has been for many years, you will give yourself a way to develop new ways of enjoying what is quickly becoming your “old relationship” with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease.

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About Sherry Katz

Sherry Katz, LCSW is primarily a couples therapist who counsels partners and individuals of all adult ages, in relieving tension and unhappiness in their relationships. The spectrum of care in her practice includes recuperating from infidelity, clarifying and strengthening trust and communication, restoring and developing common ground for a relationship. Ms. Katz has a secondary practice interest in helping family members align themselves in response to caring for elderly parents, especially a parent who has Alzheimer's Disease.Old Stories, New Views Family Therapy

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