By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — For families living with dementia, the holidays can be challenging and bittersweet. Festivities can agitate, confuse, and overstimulate people with the disease. Juliette Bradley with the Alzheimer's Association notes that some things you do every year may not need to be the same.
"Change tradition," Bradley said. "It's not horribly important that we have the same tradition every year. It's okay. We need to give ourselves permission to do things differently."
Some of those traditions may actually overstimulate someone with dementia.
"We know that lights and cards and visitors and people and discussion, that can be a little bit too much stimulation," Bradley said. "Like I said, give yourself permission to do things a little bit differently."
If you're the person going into the care situation who is visiting, you need to understand that it won't be like you remember it any more.
"Make sure that you are lowering those expectations," Bradley said. "It's going to make it really easier on that caregiver and on the individual who has Alzheimer's disease, if the expectations are lowered."
If you want to help a caregiver, give them specific suggestions for when and how you can help them, but put it as part of your regular routine. Spending time with the person with the disease so that the caregiver can get time to themselves is one of the best gifts you can give. For more information on Alzheimer's and how to help, go to alz.org.