Alzheimer’s disease is stressful on the person who has the disease as well as the rest of the family. During the holiday season this stress increases because many loved ones will travel to see their family member with Alzheimer’s disease. The normal routine of your loved one is disrupted and it can cause them stress also.
It can be very stressful to visit a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease because of the decline in their mental functioning and limited memory. Preparing ahead of time can help you deal with the stresses of visiting a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease over the holidays.
Your Body and Stress
Stress can cause many physical illnesses, it is important to take care of yourself and try to limit the stress you have to deal with. If you know visiting your loved one is going to be a stressful situation, take the time before hand to relax and calm yourself. Be aware of your limits during the visit and step out of the room if necessary.
Visits can also be stressful for your loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease. You are interrupting their regular schedule and often asking them questions they do not have the answers to.
Depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s your loved one may have a difficult time remembering who you are and this can be a scary situation for them.
Preparing for the Holidays
It is important to contact the care takers of your loved one before going to visit for the holidays.
Call family members that live closer and ask how the loved one has been doing. Discuss any specific concerns you have about your visit or items that would be good to bring your family member with Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are visiting a nursing home, you might want to call and talk with the favorite nurse of your loved one, or their doctor, to clarify any limitations that need to be set for your visit.
Keep your planned visit short. It might be better to visit for 20 minutes on several different days than it will be to visit for one whole hour. Every day is a different day for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, so if they are having a bad day on one of your visits you might have a better day on a different visit.
You might also try visiting at different times of the day. Some Alzheimer’s patients do better in the morning than in the evenings, but you can discuss this with your loved one’s caretakers ahead of time.
You should set your expectations in relation to the information you know from your family and the caretakers of your loved one. Be prepared for the worse possible situation so you are not caught off guard. It can be very overwhelming to walk into a loved one’s room and not have them recognize you.
If you prepare yourself ahead of time it will not come as such a sock if this happens on your visit.
Alzheimer’s disease is an unpredictable progressive disease. Many family members struggle in dealing with this disease and understanding all the stress involved in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. If you prepare ahead of time and set reasonable expectations for your visit, you can have an enjoyable time with your loved one.
Don’t let the stress of the holiday season or your loved one’s condition, overwhelm you. Instead, take the time to visit your loved one after you have prepared and planned appropriately. Even if your loved one has advanced Alzheimer’s you should still make a plan to visit them, just limit your visiting time to short periods.