Tips on how to navigate the holidays with loved ones experiencing Alzheimer’s

Health Watch

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — With more holidays coming up, one group is asking anyone with loved ones who may be experiencing Alzheimer’s or Dementia to adjust their expectations this season.

Planning is key when it comes to navigating our loved ones who may be suffering from cognitive impairment. WNCT caught up with the Eastern North Carolina branch of the Alzheimer’s Association and found out a little bit more on ways to help.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia, click here.

“I would say patience, I would say adjust your expectations,” said Brooke Vallely, the program manager for the Alzheimer’s Association of ENC.

Adjusting expectations proves to be very important, especially after another year of a pandemic. The Alzheimer’s Association of Eastern North Carolina is now calling on those with loved ones suffering from forms of Dementia to have a plan.

“Especially since we’ve been in this pandemic, there may be a lot of family members that haven’t seen a person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia a lot in a while. So, letting them know ahead of time, what to expect, you know, and let them know that these are symptoms of the disease, not the person,” said Vallely.

Vallely said making sure people at your celebration are aware of how to keep their loved ones engaged is most important.

“Give them some suggested activity, so, they can interact more comfortably. And tips for communicating like always maintaining eye contact, using a softer voice, maybe even leaning in and introducing yourself,” said Vallely.

Vallely also said it is important the guests read up a little on the disease beforehand to get a better idea. She said this can also help when it comes to gift-giving and making sure you are keeping those suffering from cognitive impairment engaged.

“You know, we are giving gifts, look at things that are practical and comforting, maybe their favorite foods, a sweater that’s easy to get off and on without zippers, buttons, or snaps. Music is always great, no matter the person’s age or ability,” said Vallely.

Vallely also noted it’s important to also remember the caregivers this season.

“The caregiver definitely needs to still be thought about, you know, one of the things to think about respite care, whether it’s hiring outside help or you yourself offering to come by, you know, once a once a week for an hour, once a month for an hour,” said Vallely.

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