Alzheimer’s and changing family traditions
With up to 5.2 million Americans over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s, the holidays bring about a unique set of challenges when trying to uphold family traditions. While taking a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other onset dementia out of their familiar home surroundings and routines to join in on family festivities may seem like the right thing to do, it could in turn be an unpleasant experience for all involved.
A recent Huffington Post article by Dr. Amy D’Aprix suggests that changing family traditions can be the best way to honor your loved one with Alzheimer’s.
“Think about the positive memories you can create with your family, while making the holidays easier on yourself and your [loved one],” D’Aprix writes. “Although it is difficult, acknowledge that you may need to change your traditions in order to do so.”
While it’s sad to admit, the truth is a person with Alzheimer’s simply won’t enjoy the traditional holiday experience due to a number of factors. For example, they’re likely used to a normal routine as far as eating, sleeping and other daily activities are concerned. Breaking such routines can leave your loved one confused and unhappy in an unfamiliar setting surrounded by faces they no longer recognize.
D’Aprix suggests we consider alternative ways to spend time with a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
“What about bringing brunch to Grandma’s house, which achieves both maintaining her regular meal schedule and keeping her in familiar surroundings? If she still retains memories from her youth,” suggests to D’Aprix, “would she enjoy helping make cookies or decorating the tree before the big day?”
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the article is this: however noble our intentions may be when trying to keep up on family traditions, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing it all for them or for us.
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