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Alzheimer's Changes the Shape of Christmas

By Jody Smith HERWriter
 
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the shape of Christmas is changed by Alzheimer's
MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

The holiday season can breed chaos even for the healthy and whole. For the person grappling with Alzheimer's it can be overwhelming. Keeping this in mind, simplicity is the order of the day.

Decorations that are simple, and that do not flash or sing will be more soothing for the person with Alzheimer's disease, letting them put all their energies and faculties into enjoying the people they love, in a setting where they can relax.

Make sure Christmas decorations are arranged so that they don't pose a hazard to a fragile and perhaps unsteady person with Alzheimer's.

One of the secrets to having great Christmas traditions is being flexible about it. What worked best years ago may not work too well anymore. And traditions that mess up the individuals involved are traditions to be jettisoned.

Back in the day a big family get-together of two or three generations during the holiday season was wonderful. But now, it might be more enjoyable for the person with Alzheimer's disease to have a few gatherings with just a couple of people at a time, and with plenty of time in between them to recuperate.

Is a Christmas dinner at an hour that is just too late in the day for your loved one with Alzheimer's? By all means, do lunch instead, or an early bird dinner.

Is sitting through a dinner too difficult for them? Consider some Christmas cookies and eggnog, or whatever holiday treats will be kindest to delicate digestive system. If you go with cookies or other baked goods, make sure they are soft and palatable for dentures or other dental issues.

The severity of the dementia will have a lot to do with what will work well and what won't.

In the early stages, when the sufferer is still able to make many decisions and be fairly active, make room for them to be able to call some of the shots and express their preferences.

What kind of gathering do they want? When would they like to eat? Would they rather skip the dinner and go straight to dessert?

Computer games and puzzles might be good gifts at this stage.

In the middle stage, they're going to need more help, and less stress.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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