With a focus on the upcoming holidays, the St. Joseph-Breese Alzheimer’s Association Support Group will meet at 1:30 p.m. the second Thursday, Dec. 13, in the Senior Renewal area of the hospital HealthPlex.
“The holidays—from Thanksgiving right through New Years—can be stressful for the Alzheimer’s patient as well as their family,” said group coordinator Sharon Loddeke.
“The patient may become more confused and agitated with the different activities, decorations and foods while the family is sad their loved one is no longer they way he or she used to be,” she said.
“Help is available,” Loddeke said. “We have suggestions to allow everyone to enjoy the season.”
Among the suggestions, courtesy of www.mayoclinic.com, include:
-Make preparations together such as having your loved one measure out ingredients, open holiday cards or wrap gifts together. Concentrate on the process rather than the result.
-A calm, quiet environment is usually best. Maintain daily routines, provide your loved one a place to rest during family get-together and host smaller, slower-paced gatherings.
-A change of environment can cause anxiety so it may be best to celebrate in the most familiar setting – at home or long-term care facility if that’s where the patient is living.
-Spread activities out, have family members visit on different days and plan events for the patient’s best time. Morning or lunchtime visitors or activities may work better than afternoon or evening.
-Caregivers must consider their own needs so pick your top favorite traditions and focus on them.
-You don’t need to do it all. Bake fewer cookies, buy fewer gifts, write fewer cards, etc.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help and resist pressure to celebrate the way others expect you to.
-Finally, enjoy the season.
Other tips will be discussed at the meeting and those attending can bring their own stories to share.
The group is for anyone caring for a person with dementia, at home or in long-term care, 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.