Alzheimer’s and the Holidays

Alzheimer’s and the Holidays
During the holiday season Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers often feel a little sadder and more stressed. First, attention is drawn to what is missing in their lives as old photos and current TV programs capture more idealized joyous moments. Second, the days are shorter and much of optimism is eroded by Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Next come the holiday visits and celebrations which are fraught with distraction, agitation and of course, too much stimulation. Nostalgia can catch you off balance and set you up for present disappointment. However, it doesn't have to be this way!

Learn from your Alzheimer's patient about how to live in the moment! Choose to take charge of your mind and enjoy what you have now. The latest findings from the American Academy of Neurology report that caregivers who receive support and counseling, a team approach to their needs, are less likely to place an Alzheimer's patient in a nursing home. This means that you can manage at home with help and good suggestions from those who have "been there and done that." Here are some suggestions:
  • Don't cocoon and alienate yourself and your loved one. Ask for help especially during holiday seasons.
  • Simplify to keep it small and manageable. Don’t exhaust yourself and the loved one in your charge.
  • Play holiday music in the background. This will keep both of you happy and celebrating.
  • Decorate with seasonal colors and bring nature inside.
  • Create new rituals and traditions – easy ones.
  • Fill your home with sense appeal like the scents of lavender or citrus, plenty of hugging and tickling, photos, and music.
  • Exercise together to alleviate anxiety and boost vitality.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit:

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