Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver around the holidays can be like waiting for a bomb to go off.

Humor can get you through the holidays. In all seriousness, being an
Alzheimer's caregiver around the holidays, populated with strange faces,
blinking lights and open flames, can be like waiting for a bomb to go off.

Balance is the key to getting through the holidays without drowning your
sorrows in eggnog. It's not always easy but with a little creativity and a few
adjustments, you can lessen your loved one's stress levels without losing your
own quality of life.

Here are some tips for getting through the holidays:

Not everyone needs to be in the manger: Hold festivities in
the place where your loved one is most comfortable and with the few people he
or she knows best. If there are a lot of people who want to visit, try to have
them visit in small groups.

Don't over-deck the halls: Sometimes, decorations can make
your loved one's house seem like someone else's home. It may be less confusing
to forgo the extra decor.

Santa has elves for a reason: Even the big guy can't get it
all done in one night without a little help. Let a family member bring the
mashed potatoes and help with the clean up.

Don't be a saint: No one's going to scold you if your
cranberry sauce is in the shape of a can. Sarah Lee can make the pumpkin pie
and Cool Whip can bring the toppings.

Wrap it up: Luckily, Christmas comes with activities
galore. Have your loved one help decorate cookies or wrap presents.

Santa doesn't have to come at midnight: If your patient is
at their best in the morning, a holiday brunch may be a good option.

Cozy up by the fire: Schedule some time for yourself. You
can only be a good caregiver if you're not overloaded with stress. Have a
family member watch over your loved one and give yourself a much needed break.

Be the ghost of Christmas past: No matter what you do,
there will always be new faces around the holidays. Try to ask your Alzheimer's
patient questions about the holidays of yore. For example, my Uncle Dick
couldn't remember what present I had given him that morning, but could tell us
about the Christmas's he had as a boy.

And let's not forget the most important part of the holidays: gifts!

Games are often a good idea — puzzles with large pieces, memory games or
Bingo.

Lastly, try not to think of scaling back the holidays as losing tradition
but creating new memories. Having a less chaotic holiday will make looking back
more pleasant.

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