The Fearless Caregiver: Tips for a
Less Stressful Holiday Season

Gary Barg - Editor-in-Chief, Today's Caregiver Magazine

There can be good deal of confusion for anyone during the holidays, with the hustle and bustle of preparing for extra company, fixing special meals and playing the host while trying to enjoy the whole experience as well. For a caregiver of a loved one living with Alzheimer's disease, this time can add a whole new set of strains to an already stressful situation.


1.    Try to include your loved one in some holiday preparations. Give him or her something to do that is within their abilities and that will make them feel useful. Occupying their time will help you get other things done as well.

2.    Maintain a sense of familiarity. Go easy on the decorations, and don’t move too much furniture to accommodate trees or other objects. Changing familiar surroundings can lead to confusion, especially for someone with memory or physical challenges. Extra cords, fragile decorations, and piles of gifts can be hazards to those with limited mobility.

3.    With all of the holiday hubbub, your loved one could become more confused and agitated. Try to limit the number of guests in your home at one time, and make sure that someone is always aware of the whereabouts of your loved one. If he or she tends to wander, there is a chance that this may happen when everyone thinks someone else is “on watch.”

4.    Ask for help! Don’t try to take on all of the burdens of caring for your loved one and preparing for the holidays. Something as simple as asking a neighbor or other relative to stay with your loved one for a few hours while you get some shopping done can make all the difference between a calm and a stressed-out holiday.

5.    Visit the newly enhanced Alzheimer’s Channel on to learn from articles such as “Helping Children Understand Alzheimer’s” and “Holiday Gift Ideas.”

6.    Most importantly, take time for yourself. Spend an hour in a bubble bath, read a book, play in the snow. Do something that you enjoy, and have fun. The holidays are about fun and enjoyment, so make sure that you have some of both.

Knowing that this might be a last Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc., we may feel enormous pressure to make this time especially significant for our loved ones. But keeping your level of expectations realistic will make the day go smoother for you, your loved one, extended family and friends. And that's something special in itself.


Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine



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