Visiting a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) over the holidays is a great way to check on your family member to evaluate first-hand any changes in his/her disease process. It is well known that AD is a progressive disease that worsens with time, so watching for clues of deterioration is vital during your holiday visit. In the early stages of the disease, you may notice symptoms improving-particularly for those individuals following their physician’s protocol of medications, diet and changes in lifestyle. Watching for improvement or decline in symptoms is equally important.
An in-person visit will enable caregivers to observe subtle changes that may be difficult to identify long distance. You will be able to see for yourself any clues regarding your loved one’s daily routine which will inform you (and his/her physician and medical team) just how he/she one manages activities of daily living.
A caregiver’s responsibility is to respond to his/her loved one with a positive supportive perspective. Spreading the holiday spirit to your loved one with AD is also an important aspect of the holiday visit. It’s vital to keep a positive attitude and to try to avoid feelings of pity or other negative emotions (particularly when in the presence of your loved one with AD).
Keep in mind that the change in routine resulting from a holiday visit may cause additional stress to your loved one. Your attempts to keep the routine as normal as possible will help to keep stress at bay for your loved one-which will help you to more accurately assess the level of functioning he or she is experiencing.
Perhaps your usual family holiday traditions will need to be adjusted a bit in order to reduce stress for your loved one and keep the routine as normal as possible. One example of this may be keeping the guest list to just a few family members instead of having a huge holiday meal or party.
Observe you’re loved one with AD for obvious signs of decline such as weight loss or gain, noticeable frailty or the inability to manage independently-sign up for our 25 lesson course for caregiver’s at AlzU.org by CLICKING HERE to learn more about specifically what to observe for in various stages of Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one is still driving, make an attempt to oversee him/her behind the wheel and look for obvious signs of trouble driving such as small dents in the vehicle.
While you are home for the holidays consider making time to accompany your loved one on the next physicians visit and be sure to report any observations you have made-whether it is an improvement or decline in functioning and/or symptoms of AD.