The upcoming holiday season will be the focus of the Thursday, Nov. 15, meeting of the St. Joseph-Breese Alzheimer’s Association Support Group set for 1:30 p.m. in the Senior Renewal area of the hospital HealthPlex.
Note – this meeting is on the third Thursday to avoid Thanksgiving; next month, the group will meet Dec. 13, the second Thursday, to avoid the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
“The holidays can be a joyful time but for anyone who cares for someone with Alzheimer’s or a similar condition, the days can be stressful, disappointing and sad,” said group coordinator Sharon Loddeke.
“Help is available,” she said. “We’ll be providing suggestions on how to modify holiday activities to fit everyone’s needs.”
Among the suggestions:
-Do only what you can reasonably manage and consider downsizing festivities or utilizing catered or take-out foods;
-Stick to the familiar and maintain routines, avoiding strange and noisy locations;
-Avoid decorations which can cause disorientation such as blinking lights, create a safety hazard such as lighted candles or could be mistaken for something else such as artificial fruit;
-Involve the person in the festivities such as by watching a favorite holiday movie, reading Christmas cards together or baking a favorite holiday recipe together; and
-If the person is in a care facility, join him or her in any facility-planned holiday activities, bringing favorite holiday food to share and/or reading a favorite holiday story or poem.
Other tips will be discussed at the meeting and those attending can bring their own stories to share.
The group is open to anyone caring for a person with dementia, at home or in a nursing home, or who has a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s or a similar condition. The group provides support in understanding, coping with and managing Alzheimer’s disease, assistance with community resources and information on the latest research.
Warning signs of Alzheimer’s can include memory changes, challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, new problems with speaking or writing words, misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, decreased or poor judgment, withdrawal and changes in mood and personality.