I remember wanting my mom, who lived with Alzheimer's for 8 years after her diagnosis, to remember the way we used to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. I would decorate her room and door in hopes that the decorations would spark a memory of days gone by, that they would make her happy that it was Christmas.
What I came to realize is that she had no cognition of time passing, so any day could have been Christmas. I know my Alzheimer's family member clients struggle with this. Of course we want to relive and make new holiday memories and involve our loved one! But it's important to remember that Christmas to them is very different than what you want it to be. It's in current moments, not over weeks or in memories.
I realized that I had to create Christmas moments for my mom. These moments would add to my memories and in those moments, she would laugh and feel joy. What that looked like was me wearing a Santa hat during my visits, bringing her bright sparkly red and gold scarves, and a soft fuzzy stuffed reindeer for her to hold and talk to (one each visit, not all at once!).
Those with Alzheimer's need visual and tactile stimulation in the comfort of a safe, known environment so they can focus on the experience. The least I could do was respect that and hopefully, create wonderful moments and memories for me to look back on. Even after Christmas, I kept up these visual and tactile gifts because she enjoyed them so.
Believe me when I say I know how much it would mean to YOU as a family member to bring your loved one home. But it's not necessarily good for THEM. After all, as healthy people, we get overwhelmed with the holidays. Imagine what it must be like to be so overstimulated and unable to process everything that is happening!
What are you doing, as a family member of a loved one with Alzheimer's, to cope with your emotions this holiday season?
I appreciate you sharing this @PamAlzDaughter. I love the actions you took to bring your mom joy! My grandmother had Alzheimer's and I wish we had done some of your suggested moments to make memories while she was still with us 🎄
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