Christmas is a time of cherished memories. Celebrating those memories with the ones we love and care about plays a vital role. What if someone in your family is faced with fading or non-existent memories? How do you make Christmas special for someone with Alzheimer’s? No one should ever have to leave their memories behind, especially during the holiday season. If you have an Alzheimer’s sufferer in your family, or as a friend, make an effort to see that they enjoy Christmas right along with everyone else.
On a personal note:
I’ve often thought how horrible it would be to lose my memory, especially concerning my family. What if I forgot the births or other important events of my children and grandchildren? I wouldn’t remember the little things either; consider days spent together doing nothing or the funny little things they said when they were young. What if all those silly moments were erased from my mind?
Ideas for helping Alzheimer’s patients live old memories.
*Begin a holiday story-telling session that starts with everyone sharing memories of the past. Be sure to include stories about the person with Alzheimer’s. Even if they don’t remember, it will make them feel they are a part of things. Have family members who are not present make a video or send pictures of themselves with a story for someone to read out loud. This is a wonderful tradition, even if you have no one with Alzheimer’s in your family.
*Tape your story telling session or make a video of the Alzheimer’s patient’s life as a gift. Whenever they feel lost and alone, they can play the video.
*Another good gift is a scrapbook of all the people who love and care about this wonderful person. This way they have a whole book of friends. If they live in a care facility, let the caregivers know about the book so they can give it to them to look at on down days. Include phone numbers on the pages so they can call you and talk, while looking at your page. This brings the book to life for them and keeps them close to you.
*Make traditional holiday dishes that are favorites of the Alzheimer’s patient in your life. Smells, especially food smells, invoke strong memories.
*Try watching some traditional Christmas programming such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” or even “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. If they don’t remember it, it’s OK. It will be like the first time they watched it, full of the wonder and excitement of a child.
Include the patient, even when memories fade.
The most important thing is to be sure the Alzheimer’s patient stays connected to you and you to them. Being left out is no fun for anyone, especially during the holiday season. Be sure to involve the Alzheimer’s patient in the festivities. Just because their memory is hampered by the disease, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy trimming the tree or making cookies. You may have to assist them, but they will appreciate being included.
Please note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. This article is not intended to replace medical advice.
This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.