When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s often the beginning of big changes to the family dynamic. And these changes are particularly noticeable during the holiday season, especially if your loved one previously played an important role in beloved holiday traditions. Fortunately, the holiday season can still be a time of family and joy. Our three tips for holiday joy can help you create new traditions that incorporate the established and familiar, while meeting the new needs of your loved one.
The holiday season makes everyone a little nostalgic, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the memories that are triggered in your loved one through familiar seasonal music or annual traditions like decorating the Christmas tree. This is a wonderful time to look through old photo albums and remember Christmases past, to watch beloved Christmas movies, or to spend time together baking and decorating holiday treats. Be mindful of any adjustments you’ll need to make to ensure your loved one’s safety and engagement, and enjoy this time of reminiscing.
While some seasonal traditions, like ice skating or skiing, may no longer be an option, there are always new traditions to be made. If you can’t go ice skating or skiing, try a short walk through freshly fallen snow instead. The holidays are a wonderful time for family, and time spent together is what really makes our traditions so memorable. How we choose to spend that time is less important than the closeness itself, so consider what activities would best engage your loved one, and build a new tradition around them.
Shopping plays a big role in the holiday season, but these outings can be stressful for your loved one. Avoid the crowds and the sensory overload completely, and help your loved one shop from the comfort of home. Looking online or through a catalog together keeps your loved one engaged, even if they don’t end up buying anything. Creating homemade gifts, such as thoughtfully wrapped Christmas treats, can also be a wonderful way to spend time together.
Above all, do your best to stay positive. Instead of remembering how things used to be, remind yourself to look on the bright side. It’s a better mindset for you, and your positivity is better for your loved one, too. Set a good example by enjoying this special time of year — a time for family.