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18 Fearless Years


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief Re-combobulation


I received an email request recently from a reader:

A small online support group is already starting to stress over holiday plans…our members are all caring for folks in the mid to late stages of AD - There are physical demands as well as mental/emotional demands on us.  One tiny problem can really upset the apple cart.  So, as you can imagine, we need lots of help and support. 

Please, please start your holiday advice columns soon before we all are too far gone!

Message received.

First thing to do is – take a deep breath.  We need to take the best advantage of these weeks before the holidays to create a plan of action with a clear mind. Caregiving can be tremendously discombobulating.  We need to slow down and re-combobulate (for lack of a better word) before starting our holiday planning.    

Here are some of the best things to remember:

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.

Play your loved one’s favorite holiday music throughout the holiday and surround them with familiar holiday mementos and pictures.

Fearless Caregiver GuideMaintain 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.

A potluck meal for the holidays can be a fun way to get everyone involved and take the pressure off of you to cook everything. How about festive holiday-themed paper plates and cups?

During the holidays, 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 designated to know 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.”

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.

Don’t focus on how the holidays used to be, but focus instead on what a wonderful gift it is to have your loved one with you for yet another holiday season.

Most importantly, take time for yourself.  Do something that you enjoy. The holidays are about fun and enjoyment, so make sure that you have some of both.

So let the re-combobulation begin.


Send us your ideas, comments or the challenges facing you this holiday season.


  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Monday October 22, 2012


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