Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
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Katie Wooldridge
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Finding joy during the holidays

Houston, TX - 10/30/2013

Caregiver Tips for dealing with memory changes


For families living with Alzheimer’s, finding joy during the holidays can be challenging. By managing expectations and planning early, holidays can still be happy and memorable for every family.

“With the holiday season hustle and bustle, stress is a constant companion of planning parties, holiday shopping and family gatherings,” said Rebecca Axline, LCSW, supervisory clinical social worker at Houston Methodist’s Nantz National Alzheimer Center. “Making some minor adjustments to your family traditions, caregivers and their loved ones are still able to make the most of their holiday.”

Click on thumbnail for larger caregiving infographic.

When dementia and memory changes are part of the journey, it is helpful to consider the following suggestions:

  • Keep your loved one as involved as possible. Consider what areas they can be involved in safely to give them a sense of purpose - open cards together, discuss gift selections, or allow simple baking tasks. Try to focus on the moment about the memories you are making rather than the outcome or perfect results. 
  • Be consistent with medications and physician recommendations. Even though you are busy, you will find that maintaining the structure of medications, treatments and day programs will be better for your loved one and, ultimately, for you.
  • Choose decorations and allow yourself to make changes from past celebrations. Make sure your loved one’s living space is safe – lighted candles may be a hazard and large blinking lights can cause disorientation. You can still create a beautifully decorated home, accepting that the décor may be very different from years past.
  • Recognize the effects of overstimulation. Minimize overstimulation and your anxiety level as this can transfer to your loved one. Keep activities simple and alert your guests ahead of time about your own needs and wishes. Lessen the number of visitors; simplify the plan; and allow a few days on either side of an event to be quiet and relaxing.
  • Care for YOU. Make a list of the usual things you do during the holidays. Decide which you want to keep in your plan and what you can skip.  Allow others to help you and be clear in what your need for them to do. Include time away for yourself and ways that help you regain your energy.


For more information, please contact Katie Wooldridge 713.816.2215 or kjwooldridge@houstonmethodist.org.