Holidays and Alzheimer’s During COVID-19
The holidays are often filled with sharing, laughter and memories. But they can also bring stress, disappointment, sadness — and due to the COVID-19 pandemic — heightened risk for spreading the virus, especially for older adults who tend to have underlying health conditions. A person living with Alzheimer’s may feel a special sense of loss during the holidays because of the changes he or she has experienced. At the same time, caregivers may feel overwhelmed by maintaining traditions while providing care and adhering to safety precautions.
The safest option is to avoid in-person holiday gatherings with people outside of your household, as there are other ways to stay socially connected. A holiday is still a holiday no matter where it is celebrated. Below are tips and ideas for safely engaging with family and friends during the holidays.
- The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. The current COVID-19 crisis is creating challenges that can feel overwhelming for many families impacted by dementia. It’s more important than ever to take care of your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
- Arrange for a group discussion via telephone, video call or email for family and friends to discuss holiday celebrations in advance. Make sure that everyone understands your caregiving situation, the safety precautions you’re taking to help keep your loved one healthy and has realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do.
- A conversation in advance is also a great time to let others know about any changes they might see in the person living with dementia. Read more about how to familiarize others with the situation during the holidays.
- Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably and safely manage — this likely means much smaller and more casual gatherings, if at all. No one should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event, especially during a pandemic.
- Consider celebrating earlier in the day so you can work around the evening confusion (sundowning) if it sometimes affects the person living with Alzheimer’s.
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