Making holidays dealing with dementia or Alzheimer's easier

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - For the 5.8 million families affected by Alzheimer's, finding ways to celebrate without upsetting their loved one is key. The Kensington in Hastings says in the afternoons is when people tend to begin to act up or "sundown". So celebrations should stay short.

The holiday season can be a source of confusion for people dealing with dementia. Local4 looked into ways to help families make things easier for their loved ones. (KSNB)

“The earlier in the day, the better. Their brains are going all day. They may not know certain people, they might not know exactly where they're at, so the earlier in the day the better,” Senior Living Consultant Krista Finley said.

While some may not think giving gifts can be negative, it could confuse people dealing with dementia. Memory caregivers say they don't need high-tech gifts. If they are not too far along in the disease, photo albums with name labels are a good way to jog the memory. But if they can't recognize family anymore photos could upset them.

“I think anything they can use. usually every Christmas we give our residents on our evergreen court a gift, something that may be familiar to them or something they may have done. What their job was, if they were a farmer get them a tractor. Something that will bring us those good memories,” Finley said.

Those family gatherings also are recommended to be just a few people close to the person. For those who may not have family nearby, places like the Edgewood Vista in Grand Island does what they can to make those connections.

“We do FaceTime and Skype messages with family members who live away from Grand Island so they still get to be present with their loved one,” Executive Director Kelly Hranac said.

They understand it takes a lot of patience, repeating yourself, and frustration not being recognized by a family member. But caregivers said spending that time together is what is important.

“It's just making those memories and enjoying the time you have with your loved one,” Hranac said.