Holiday Hints for Alzheimer's Caregivers

alzheimers holiday hints inline 0In the Lehigh Valley, with its festive displays and holiday traditions, holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for both the person with Alzheimer’s disease and his or her family. Maintaining or adapting family rituals and traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging and family identity. For a person with Alzheimer’s, this link with a familiar past is reassuring.

However, when celebrations, special events, or holidays include many people, this can cause confusion and anxiety for a person with Alzheimer’s. He or she may find some situations easier and more pleasurable than others. The tips below can help you and the person with Alzheimer’s visit and reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors during holidays. South Mountain Memory Care in Emmaus not only cares about our residents — We are concerned about your peace of mind as a caregiver, too.

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Help for Long-Distance Caregivers

Being a caregiver is a challenge in and of itself. The current pandemic has made travel and visitation difficult, leaving many caregivers wondering how to meet the needs of their loved ones — even wondering if they are meeting their needs, as well as their own needs. Many times, caregivers feel they occasionally need caregivers of their own.

Local agencies are available in the Lehigh County area that can help take the stress out of worrying if your loved one is being taken care of when you can’t be there.

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Is My Loved One in Danger of Wandering?

The Lehigh County area has many wonderful attractions and places to visit for people of all ages. However, any place can be threatening for a person with dementia. One significant danger for a person with dementia is the possibility of him or her wandering off without notice and often without proper clothing, medicine, or other essentials. An estimated 60% of people with dementia will wander off at some point. A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or address and can become disoriented and not know where they are or where they are going.

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How to Cope when Mom and Dad Say, “Nope!”

old man angryAs parents age, their needs and preferences change, from simple things like TV shows to life-altering needs for new surroundings. When a loved one has lived in his or her home or neighborhood for decades, or has lived alone without help for most of his or her life, facing a major change can be frightening and even insulting. It can be seen as the last step to eternity, as being discarded, or the person may feel useless, especially after a lifetime of working and raising children. It may feel like the end of freedom or a chance for the family to manipulate their “doddering fool” parent.

 

Needless to say, under any of the above scenarios, conflicts can threaten relationships between aging parents and their adult children, just at the time when understanding and support are needed most. Bad feelings, such as resentment and fear, can undermine any chance of working together. Parents being parented is a difficult transition to make.

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Is “Pandementia” a New Risk for Older Adults?

We may not realize it, but loneliness is a health risk. It is an emotional equivalent of physical pain, and even triggers the same responses in the brain. The feeling of loneliness and disconnectedness lets us know that we need to find companionship and security to remain emotionally healthy. Confusion can come easily to dementia patients, and the new circumstances surrounding the pandemic can reinforce the feeling of isolation that often accompanies this disease. Tragically, healthy older adults who experience prolonged feelings of isolation and loneliness can suffer related health consequences, such as premature death, heart disease, and stroke. More in keeping with our subject, older people who are lonely can be up to 20% more likely to develop dementia. This author has coined the word “pandementia” to categorize the effect the coronavirus is having on older adults with respect to cognitive performance.

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