Holiday tips for families dealing with Alzheimer’s

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - For many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  For those dealing with Alzheimer's, the holiday gatherings can be overwhelming and stressful. "They want to be involved, they want that family connection still. So keep them involved, but find ways to do it that make them comfortable," said Michelle Cain with the Alzheimer's Association.

Cain said the best thing you can do for your loved ones living with Alzheimer’s is be flexible. "Maybe your loved one can’t be around crowds, maybe a lot of background noise bothers [them]. Take into consideration where they are and adjust your plans accordingly."

But if they become over-stimulated, Cain says there is an easy fix. "Take a time out, remove them from the situation, maybe take them to a different room, where they’re still a part of the festivities, but they’re not in the middle of it."

Even if you don’t know of anyone in your family having Alzheimer's, Cain said the holidays can make the symptoms of the disease more noticeable. "Mom’s cooked the same meal for 40 years, things aren't right, things aren't the same. She needs to follow the recipe more, and she's known this recipe for forever or it doesn't taste right."

Paying attention to symptoms, and giving proper care to those dealing with the disease will help make your gatherings joyful for all. "It's all about us coming together, enjoying one another. It's about family, it's about fellowship, it's about love, and that's what our loved ones need."

They also want to remind caregivers to not be afraid to ask for help during the holiday season, so everyone can remain stress free and enjoy the holidays.

They have a toll-free 24/7 help line available at 1-800-272-3900 or you can contact them at alz.org.