Holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. Maintaining or adapting traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging and identity. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this link with a familiar past can be reassuring.
For caregivers, the holidays can sometimes present extra demands on their time and energy. The COVID-19 pandemic adds another layer of stress and safety concerns. Older adults are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and adults with dementia may have trouble following personal protective measures, like wearing a mask or social distancing. This holiday season you can find ways to safely celebrate the holidays that are important to you while taking care of your own needs and those of the person with Alzheimer’s disease:
- Take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and avoid in-person gatherings and visits. Make plans to celebrate with family and friends safely: schedule phone calls, a virtual family reunion or potluck, or ask family and friends to send a care package or photo album.
- Set your own limits and be clear about them with others. You do not have to live up to the expectations of friends or relatives.
- Involve the person with Alzheimer’s in simple holiday preparations, or have him or her observe your preparations. Observing you will familiarize him or her with the upcoming festivities. Participating with you may give them the pleasure of helping and the fun of anticipating and reminiscing.
- Prepare quiet distractions to use, such as a family photo album, if the person with Alzheimer’s becomes upset or overstimulated.
Find more holiday hints for Alzheimer’s caregivers on NIA’s website. You can also explore more ideas for celebrating the holidays safely during COVID-19 and the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic.