Tips to ease the holiday stress for those with Alzheimer's

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month.

Tips to ease the holiday stress for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. (KNOE) -

Heather Medaries, the North Louisiana Program Coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association, says, "More than 87,000 Louisiana residents have a confirmed Alzheimer's diagnosis, and more than 232,000 family members are serving as their caregivers".

Medaries says it's important to recognize that the holidays can be a stressful time for those with Alzheimer's and their family and friends.

Here are some of their tips:

● Make sure others know: Let guests know what to expect before they arrive and tell them how they can help. For example, what activities can they do with the person living with Alzheimer's and how best to communicate with them.

● Build on traditions and memories: Take time to experiment with new traditions that might be less stressful or a better fit with your caregiving responsibilities. For example, if evening confusion and agitation are a problem, turn your holiday dinner into a holiday lunch.

● Involve the person with Alzheimer's: Depending on abilities and preferences, make sure to keep the person with Alzheimer’s involved in the celebrations, such as packing cookies in tins or helping wrap gifts.

How to Reduce Holiday Stress for Caregivers:

1. Learn about the disease: Learn its symptoms, progression, challenges. The more you know, the easier it is to find ways to help.

2. Offer caregivers a reprieve: Give them a break, a chance to go shopping, visit friends, make appointments, or attend a support group. Even a 1-hour break can make a difference.

3. Check-In: Caregivers can feel isolated. Starting the conversation or dropping by for a visit can make a caregiver feel supported.

4. Make the holidays easier. Offer help running errands, cooking, cleaning, or gift shopping. Offer to host this holiday.

How to Reduce Holiday Stress for the Person Living with the Disease:

1. Make sure others know: Let guests know what to expect before they arrive and tell them how they can help. For example, simultaneous conversations can be challenging, engage with them one-on-one.

2. Build on traditions & memories: When old traditions fail, take time to experiment with new traditions that are less stressful or a better fit with caregiving responsibilities. Example: If your loved one has evening confusion, change the holiday dinner to lunch.

3. Involve the person with Alzheimer's in safe preparation activities: Whether preparing food, setting the table, or gift wrapping, make them feel involved.

4. Plan ahead and let others contribute: Only do what you can reasonably manage. Speak with family members in advance about what you can do and what you need help with. Make arrangements for the person living with the disease in a worst-case scenario. Example: Let the host know if a quiet room is needed for the person living with the disease in case of noises, distractions, or fatigue.

● Plan ahead: When attending a holiday party, prepare the host for special needs, such as a quiet room for the person to rest in away from the noise and distractions or fatigue.

Eric Rutledge, with the Alzheimer's Association in Monroe, says Glenwood Regional Medical Center has a support group for caregivers, and the Ouachita Council on Aging has a support group for people with early-onset.

For more information, contact their office at (318) 666-8400 or their 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.