Accepting the “new normal” associated with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be especially difficult during the holidays. The key to a pleasant holiday experience is managing expectations and amending traditions accordingly.
Be sure to let guests know what to expect before they arrive. Many times caregivers are afraid to tell others about their loved one’s diagnosis, but educating family and friends can manage unrealistic expectations and take some of the stress away from the person with dementia, the caregiver and their guests.
The stress of caregiving responsibilities coupled with stress of planning for a holiday gathering can take a toll. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For example: Rather than cook the entire holiday meal yourself, opt for a potluck affair.
Try to maintain a normal routine for your loved one. If he is accustomed to eating at a certain time, plan the family meal accordingly or allow him to eat at a different time than the rest of your guests. Also build in time for breaks and rest.
Give yourself a break. Carve out a few minutes for meditation or exercise to help you de-stress, and don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself.