The smell of turkey in the air, the sounds of laughter echoing down the hall, the sight of kids playing from room to room, isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?
For some of us ABSOLUTELY! It may, however, not be so ideal for our loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Loud noises, large groups, unfamiliar faces, and even smells can create an uncomfortable atmosphere for them. You may not be able to celebrate Thanksgiving as you always had. For one family this is all too true.
Isaura Galicia remembers how a year before her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s they decorated the tree and hung the wreath on the door. They cooked a big meal with tamales, buñuelos, turkey, rice, and dessert. The couple’s kids and grandkids joined them for the Christmas celebration, and, as was customary, they set up the karaoke machine and played ranchera music. They sang, danced and exchanged gifts.
By the next summer her husband was found to have Alzheimer’s. Since then he has slowly forgotten the meaning of holidays. “Our way of seeing these holidays has changed,” says Isaura, Because her husband sometimes hallucinates when fatigued, celebrations end early and include only family. “We still sing, we laugh …” says Isaura, “but things are not the same.”
Does this sound familiar to you?
If so, here are a few tips for a Happy Thanksgiving:
While preparing the food, reminisce about past Thanksgivings.
- But don’t ask, “Do you remember when …”Limit the number of guests at the meal
- You might even want to have two different Thanksgiving meals if there are a lot of people who would want to come.
Watch for signs of fatigue.
- Make sure there is a place for the person with dementia to rest if he or she feels overwhelmed.
Fill your home with pleasant and traditional aromas.
- Smells that are familiar to your loved one will be soothing.
- Incorporate the person with dementia in food preparation.
- As appropriate, but safety is the priority.
Although it may not look like it always has, the true idea is to be together and enjoy each other. For more tips for Thanksgiving, you can visit here: How to Cope