Alzheimer’s Association provides resources for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia

The holiday season is fast approaching, which means celebration, joy and time spent with family and friends as well. For those who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, the holidays can be a difficult time. Caregivers especially experience stress when trying to balance their usual caregiver duties with holiday tasks. They may have certain ideas about how the holidays "should" be. Individuals with Alzheimer’s can also experience a feeling of loss around this time.

Despite these difficulties, the holiday season can be about spending time with loved ones, while keeping the stress to a minimum. Below are some ideas.

Adjust your expectations. It is important to take on only what you can handle. This may involve picking a few traditions to concentrate on this year. You can focus on having a small family dinner rather than a large holiday gathering. Also, do not be afraid to ask others to help out. Instead of cooking an entire meal yourself, have a potluck and invite friends and family to each bring a dish. In short, keep it simple.

Involve your loved one. The holidays can be a special time for you to be with your family member who has Alzheimer’s. Have them help with small tasks, like wrapping gifts or setting the table. They may also enjoy stirring the batter while you make cookies or helping make appetizers. Share memories with them. Look at photo albums or holiday cards together or watch a holiday movie.

If your loved one lives in a care facility, your holiday can also be warm and enjoyable. There are several holiday events planned by facilities that you and your loved one can participate in together. You can bring holiday food to share. Invite other residents to sing holiday songs together. Read a holiday story or poem out loud.

Though the holidays can be emotional for both individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, it can also be a time when you can celebrate and share time together. Traditions may change, but remember that being with those you love is the important part.

Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free Helpline at 800-272-3900 or visit alz.org/greateriowa. Experts are available to take calls from individuals concerned with their own cognitive health, as well as from family members and friends concerned about a family member and seeking resources. This resource is available 24/7, including over the holiday season.