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The holiday hustle affects everyone differently, especially those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Not only can it be physically demanding, and it can also include some emotional trials along the way. If you anticipate hosting a soiree at your house to which a loved one or friend with mild cognitive impairment will be invited, try following some of these tips from other caregivers to ensure an anxiety-free gathering for everyone in attendance.

Prior to the holiday gathering:

  1. Consider the time of day in which the person with Alzheimer’s disease is at his or her best. If that is the afternoon, a brunch or afternoon festivity may be more appropriate than dinner.
  2. Understand triggers and do your best to eliminate them in the environment you will be attending.
  3. Share changes in cognitive abilities with guests. This eliminates day-of-surprises in altered behavior, cognitive ability and communication skills.
  4. Don’t overextend yourself. Hosting a group of six is much easier than entertaining a group of 30. If scaling back isn’t an option, consider asking other guests to bring a dish. It can be a fun potluck for friends and family. Other options include catering dinner or hiring a private chef.
  5. Incorporate traditions that are meaningful to the person affected by Alzheimer’s disease. This provides a sense of comfort and could help alleviate any prior triggers that could be present.

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Day of the gathering:

  1. A person with Alzheimer’s repeat his or herself often, which may cause interaction to require the patience of others. It’s important to remain attentive and let them finish their thoughts.
  2. Invite this person to help with preparations. Making him or her feel included in the day’s activities will markedly boost his or her spirits.
  3. Give gifts that are useful including clothes, walking shoes, baked goods and movies. It’s alright to be slightly nostalgic, but understand if these could be potential triggers.
  4. When the guests leave, take 30 minutes to enjoy some quiet time to yourself. It’s better to allow time to decompress from everything to prepare for the ride home.

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but it’s important to help those with Alzheimer’s during an emotional time. If you have further questions, consult a professional to help you provide ways to make the evening easier for the caregiver, your patient and their family.

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