Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Avoid Stress and Overstimulation Over the Holidays

The holidays are a time to be joyful! For many, they mean seeing family and friends that have traveled near and far to spend this special time together. There’s always something delicious cooking in the kitchen, large groups of people gather around the fire to reminisce about fond memories, and the laughter often doesn’t die down until late into the night.

But, for those living with Alzheimer’s, the holidays can mean increased feelings of agitation, a great deal of unease – and even prompt wandering. Here are a few ways you can quell the feelings of stress in your loved one this year:

1. Stay Well Rested: "Sundowning" is a state of increased agitation occurring late in the day through the evening hours. Research now indicates that being overly tired may have more to do with “sundowning” than previously thought. If a nap is out of the question for your loved one, try to encourage some quiet time away from the TV and other sources of stimulation.

2. Plan Wisely: Those with Alzheimer’s are generally better able to tolerate outings and events earlier in the day. Manage expectations with your family and friends so that they know when to expect you and what to expect. Try coordinating a quiet breakfast or brunch in the morning rather than a busy dinner in the evening.

3. Calm in the Face of the Storm: If an episode begins to come on, try guiding your loved one away from that particular source of stimulation. A quiet space where they can feel comfortable may be all they need when the world around them seems so loud.

Alzheimer’s Disease is unpredictable, but if you can prepare for unexpected episodes and look for the sources of stimulation that might trigger one, we can focus on what the holidays were meant to be about. Enjoying and relishing the company of those we love.

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