Coping with the Holidays for Caregivers

Written and Compiled by Rachel Harding, MSW, Alzheimer’s Family Services PRN Social Worker

Holidays are bittersweet for many Alzheimer’s disease caregivers. The happy memories of the past contrast with the difficulties of the present, and extra demands on time and energy can seem overwhelming. Finding a balance between rest and activity can help. Here are some tips from the National Institute on Aging Caregiver Guide: Tips for Caregivers of People with Alzheimer’s Disease.

•Keep or adapt family traditions that are important to you. Include the person with Alzheimer’s as much as possible.
•Recognize that things will be different, and be realistic about what you can do.
•Encourage friends and family to visit. Limit the number of visitors at one time, and try to schedule visits during the time of day when the person is at his or her best.
•Avoid crowds, changes in routine, and strange places that may cause confusion or agitation.
•Do your best to enjoy yourself. Try to find time for the holiday things you like to do.
•Ask a friend or family member to spend time with the person while you are out.
•At larger gatherings try to have a space available where the person can rest, be alone, or spend some time with a smaller number of people, if needed (National Institute on Aging, 2010).

Remember to cherish the moments with your loved one during this special season. Here is a short untitled poem written from the perspective of a person with dementia. As you go through the busyness that the holidays can bring, keep this sweet poem in mind. Most importantly, take care of yourself. Try to get your rest, and slow down so you may enjoy the special moments with your family and friends. Happy Holidays from Alzheimer’s Family Services!

Do not ask me to remember. Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you are with me. Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond all concept, I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you—To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me. Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting, Can’t be different ‘though I try.

Just remember that I need you, That the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ‘til my life is done.

–Author unknown

Poem retrieved from AgingCare

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