The holidays bring their own certain kind of stress. For a person experiencing memory issues and those who love them, it can ramp up to unforeseen levels. This stress only increases memory problems and the correlating domino effect that creates. Caregivers feel it too, even more so than their loved ones at times.
Loving and caring for someone with memory problems can be draining, especially at the holidays, but there are ways to help. Here are a few tips to help those with memory loss at holidays or anytime:
- Manage Expectations. Don’t expect loved ones to remember every family story, holiday tradition or great grandchild’s name. It’s not that they don’t want to, or can’t remember some part of it, it’s that in that moment they literally can’t or it may take some additional time. Which leads us to…
- Be Patient! Older adults and especially those with memory issues need additional time to process, function, and remember. They may be able to recall that same memory, but they won’t if stressed or pressed to do so. Be patient with them and yourself in all things.
- Pick and Choose. Some traditions are great and always appreciated at holiday time. Others may create more stress than is needed or wanted this time of year and season of life. It’s okay to pick and choose the people, events, and timing to best suit your loved one’s needs and abilities.
- Redirection Helps More than Correction. If a loved one can’t remember, it’s helpful to redirect to another subject if the recall is causing stress. Correcting them or being impatient only creates more stress and anxiety for everyone. Eventually they may remember, but maybe instead we ask ourselves which is more important the memory or the person.
- Be Present. This is helpful for everyone. Those with memory issues often have good moments as well as bad. Being present in the good will allow all to enjoy that precious time (and create more positive memories for the caregiver and family in the future). Being present in the bad moments will allow all to feel valued and assist in being aware of any limitations or progression of symptoms.
Life with memory loss affects not only the person experiencing it, but all those who love and care for them. It’s not an easy road but still can be one full of memorable moments to be cherished. As a caregiver myself, I can testify to this truth. To that end, after a season of care giving and loss, I’ll be taking a brief break from the blog to fully be present with my loved ones this holiday season. I’ll be back in a few weeks with more memory wellness insights, tips and strategies.
Until then, I wish you all a blessed and very memorable holiday season full of love, hope, joy, and peace.