By Jacob Simburger, Communications Manager with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter

With COVID-19 surging across the country, families are struggling with decisions about the upcoming holiday season—weighing concerns about the safety of gathering with the desire to spend time with family and friends.

For those who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, these decisions are even harder, especially since many families have forgone visits with older relatives during the pandemic. The key is to begin to have discussions right now to allow time to make arrangements and communicate with a loved one.

The Alzheimer’s Association created a guide of tips and things for families to consider in their decision-making. These tips include how to plan and prepare for the holidays, such as:

  • Schedule a family Zoom or FaceTime to talk about upcoming holiday celebrations and visiting a loved one with dementia. If there is a family member serving as the primary caregiver for the loved one, be sure to include them in the discussion.
  • Consult the official COVID-19 guidelines, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for the latest recommendations on visits with individuals deemed higher risk/vulnerable. (Here are the CDC’s tips for Thanksgiving.)
  • Think about what is best for the person with dementia and assess risks of various options for family gatherings and in-person visits.
  • Reach a consensus among family members and make a decision for the holidays that everyone supports.
  • Detail how you’ll celebrate the season and divvy up responsibilities and assignments to make it happen.

The Alzheimer’s Association is also providing practical advice and creative ideas to help families plan appropriately for a meaningful and enjoyable holiday season, such as:

  • Virtual holiday celebration ideas
  • How to make plans for a safer in-person visit
  • Communication tips for sharing information about holiday plans
  • How to support a caregiver you won’t be seeing over the holidays
  • Gift ideas for a loved one with dementia and a family caregiver
  • Making the holiday meaningful for a loved one in a long-term care community

By following some of these tips, families can appropriately celebrate smart and safe this year.

To read more about navigating the holidays this year, visit alz.org/mohelp.

 

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