If you’re like us, you’re no doubt squeezing in those last Thanksgiving errands before the holiday gathering tomorrow! You may also be preparing for the arrival of a relative suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, which presents its own challenges; if that’s the case, we have some last-minute tips for you on how to make your Thanksgiving enjoyable for all:
Keep it simple. Dementia sufferers are prone to confusion and anxiety that can be provoked by clutter, noise, and heightened activity. Do a quick walk-through of the space and clear away any clutter or obstructed walking paths; designate a quiet room for Mom to nap or look quietly through old photographs; assign her a buddy who can stay with her and monitor her comfort level. And have someone in mind whom you can ask to take her home early, should Mom become too tired or agitated.
Keep them engaged. When they’re not needing to rest, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are more content when they’re focused on simple activities – particularly since following a conversation is usually difficult. Have Dad join in basic meal preparations, like folding napkins; filling bread baskets; sweeping the walkway; setting the table; or stirring ingredients, with supervision.
Be ready for downtime. Roasting that turkey can take a while, so consider some low-key ways Mom might like to pass the time before eating. If she’s a football fan, have someone pull up a comfortable chair with her and watch with the volume low. Or put out some simple card games like Uno or Go Fish that she could play with a grandchild. Sorting objects into groups is also a great activity; if you have collections of things like beads, buttons, or balls of yarn, have Mom sort into jars or piles while waiting for dinner.
If you have any on-the-spot issues or questions, the Alzheimer’s Association hotline is staffed 365 days a year, 24 hours a day – dial 1.800.272.3900.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday!