The days are getting shorter and temperatures are dropping. The holidays are upon us. While the holidays can be the most magical time of year, they can also be fraught with disappointment and agitation for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Our Family Home Nurse Manager Melissa Shannonhouse, LPN, has the following recommendations to help your family this holiday season:
- Give careful thought to the best place for a visit. The idea of having your loved one home for a meal or celebration sounds like the obvious choice. However, for some people with memory disease, new surroundings can be confusing or overwhelming. It’s alright to plan a special visit in their room or common area.
- Similarly, we’ve also found that returning back to a care center after a few hours away can be particularly distressing for others. I remember talking with the family of a resident who didn’t want to leave after dinner, recounting, “I had no idea that it would be so difficult to convince my mom to return to her home.” She didn’t understand the situation, became angry and refused to get into the car.
- Try to maintain balance. Indulgence is synonymous with the holidays. Whether it’s an extra piece of pie or another sweet treat, overindulgence can lead to mood swings and a general difficultly returning back to the familiar patterns that are important for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. While we want everyone to have a special day, balance is important.
- Our greatest advice is to find joy in the small moments. The holidays aren’t about where you celebrate, what you eat or how long you’re together. It’s about connection. Smile. Make eye contact. Speak in a slow, calm manner. Look through old picture albums or turn on soft music. Focus on the small touches that can have a big impact.
Happy holidays from Our Family Home!
In 2012, my mom lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Before her, my grandparents and now my aunt and uncles. I don’t share this for your condolences, but rather to let you know I understand. I’ve been there. These experiences had a profound affect on me personally and professionally as the catalyst for Our Family Home.
I started Our Family Home when I knew years prior, while working as a nursing home administrator in 1993, there needed to be the right care options for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Eventually, when I saw the early signs of Alzheimer’s with my mother, I acted on my vision and founded Our Family Home. I believed then and believe now that all people deserve compassionate, personalized care. As an organization, we remain steadfast in our commitment to this model of care. We have taken it a step further by focusing not just on personalized care, but also on livelihood.
During the time I was looking after my mom, I remember cherishing the good days. The days when things were clear and there was light through the fog. When she would sew, play golf, tennis, mow the lawn, read, and come to every one of my childhood events.
Today, I fondly remember the good days as do many of our families and that’s why we do what we do. It’s why we are trying our best to make each day the best it can be. Why we are striving for more good days.
First and foremost, we want more good days for our residents and their families. It’s why we prioritize their livelihood, adapt our homes to the needs of our residents and focus on their unique health needs. It’s also how we treat our employees. We believe in giving them the resources and training they need to make each day the best it can be.
For me, this business is personal and that’s how I look at it. I’m excited to launch our new blog and newsletter. I hope you will follow along as I share the stories of Our Family Home, the things that inspire me to keep fighting against this debilitating disease and the work that is being done to treat and manage the effects of Alzheimers.