Avoid flashing lights, choose suitable gifts, recover old photos and popular music: some tricks to face the holidays with Alzheimer's sufferers
Put in the indications and distancing rules related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Add the stress related to the moment we are living in. Mix it all up and you get a cocktail that surely may require some attention in the upcoming holiday season for frail people, such as those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Here are the advice of the Italian Society of Neurology on the subject.
Attention to the evening hours
First rule to observe: we try to help people reduce the level of anxiety that can be created in this situation, especially in the evening. This means making the best use of the possibility of practicing a simple physical activity, however going out to distract yourself. But above all, let's not forget that limiting “evening” contacts can also have positive repercussions on the state of emotional tension that can arise in those suffering from the degenerative disease.
"There are some indications in the last Dpcm – explains Amalia Bruni, President of SINdem (Italian Society of Neurology for Dementia) – that correspond to the needs of patients with Alzheimer's disease: the ban on celebrating with many people in favor of visits to the maximum of a couple of people at a time, for example, is functional to avoid the chaos and bustle of the Christmas celebrations that generally stress the patient and amplify the state of uncertainty and confusion that often dominates the intermediate and advanced stages of the disease. Just as the ban on circulation after 10 pm will favor more opportunities for meeting at lunch than at dinner time, without thereby aggravating the frequent state of agitation that characterizes patients towards the evening hours (sunset syndrome) ".
For the rest, like every year, it should be emphasized that the time of holidays, with the inevitable "variations" compared to normal daily rhythms, can represent an additional problem, regardless of the presence of the pandemic. "In these days of celebration, the routine inevitably changes – is the opinion of Gioacchino Tedeschi, President of the Italian Society of Neurology – and it is therefore important to involve the patient already in the preparatory phase, in a cheerful, welcoming atmosphere and perhaps preceded by clear signals , such as decorations and decorations that mark the upcoming event.
It is also important to adapt the environment according to the needs of the most vulnerable people to ensure that the Christmas period becomes a special occasion for the whole family: beware of flashing lights that can confuse or scare a person with dementia.
Even gifts must be chosen and adapted to the wishes of the person (not family members) and must be suitable for the stage of illness: comfortable clothing, audio cassettes of favorite music, videos and photo albums but also, for example for women and if in phase severe, a big and soft doll, awakens the never dormant maternal instinct ”.
Focus on memories
Experts point out that people with Alzheimer's disease need to "find" the atmosphere of the past in some way. For this reason, in the many hours that are spent anyway at home during the Christmas holidays, it is important to foresee suitable pastimes to be carried out all together: the person with Alzheimer's can find comfort in singing old traditional songs or leafing through family photo albums, telling and be told. It is also important to involve her in organizing the preparations, such as wrapping gifts, decorating, setting the table, even cooking.