Celebrating the Holidays with a Loved One with Alzheimer’s


Regardless of how many prior years and decades you and your family members, including the person who now has Alzheimer’s, continued certain Holiday customs, at a certain point of this disease taking over more of someone’s life, a new style of celebrating holidays pushes itself onto us.

Possibly you are one of the rare ones who has already accepted and adjusted to the fact that trying to hold on and repeat the customs of Holiday living before Alzheimer’s, is a losing battle that drains everyone for the effort.

Instead of fighting for what is already lost, invest your wishes and effort for a happy holiday season, into what is possible, given the presence of Alzheimer’s in someone who has a meaningful place in your life.

Work with what you already have learned about how the disease affects the pace of stimulation that someone who has Alzheimer’s, is able to handle.

If the purpose of family gatherings is to “gather”, then changing the start time, planning how long the even will last, the pace of change in different set activities, to align with what the person who has Alzheimer’s is able to handle, will help all guests have the best time, given the difficult reality.

If at all possible, assign a point person who has the task of staying close by to the person who has Alzheimer’s.  Having a steady and reliable person on whom to focus and who agrees to be watchful for early signs of overstimulation, and knows how to re-direct the person away from this, is peace of mind for the host and other guests.

Ideally, the surface level celebratory activities can continue in a somewhat altered format.

Ideally too, the family roots and the root purpose of coming together, will become more of a focus of holiday meaning.

Realizing that the people in your family have connections with each other that are based on love, regardless of medical condition, will bring a peace to your holiday celebrating which may be deeper, clearer, and stronger, than the decades’ prior.

Consider your first, Alzheimer’s Christmas, as a chance to concentrate on what feels important beyond fruitcake, turkey or the most perfectly decorated

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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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