Why do National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and Thanksgiving fall in the same month, November? Perhaps to help us to express thankfulness for the good things we have, in spite of the challenges. Similarly, we learn to express thankfulness for the good times we shared with a loved one before they got Alzheimer’s. We can do this, in spite of the challenges the disease presents now.
Tips for Easing a Thanksgiving Celebration for A Person with Alzheimer’s
For people who have Alzheimer’s, a large family gathering might become a source of confusion. For family members, it can be a challenge too, to be meet somebody whom they do not understand.
Here are a few ways suggested by Alzheimer’s Weekly to help the whole family come prepared. In this way, the Thanksgiving event can be a pleasure for all involved.
- Family members who are old enough should be made aware that the person has Alzheimer’s disease. They should understand the nature of the disease and take on a non-blaming, understanding attitude. The way they can do this, is by self-education, reading on websites, e-books or printed information about Alzheimer’s.
- Involve the person with conversation and activities, on a level that they can handle. This is very important for their health. Below we will give some tips for holding a conversation with a person who has Alzheimer’s.
- Patents should teach youngsters tips on how to handle a conversation with their relative who has Alzheimer’s. Truthfully, if a child sees that a trusted adult is at ease talking, they will be at ease too. If a child is uncomfortable, parents should not force the issue, and let the child keep the communication brief.
- In preparation for Thanksgiving (and for every day), develop good listening skills, patience and understanding. This can really take a conversation/communication to a new and successful level.
Tips for Face to Face Conversation with a Person who has Alzheimer’s
Here is a collection of tips for holding a conversation this Thanksgiving with a person who has Alzheimer’s. Different tips will be more or less helpful. This may depend on how they feel that day and how far the disease has advanced. Read more of these tips by the Alzheimer’s Association, where communication is described in terms of the Stages of Alzheimer’s.
- It is alright to give the same answer, to a repeated question.
- If they ask a question, answer with a positive tone and interest in your voice.
- Do ask them about distant events – a holiday from their childhood will be more easily recalled than one from a couple of years ago.
- If you asked them a question, allow extra time to respond. Don’t jump in and supply the answer.
- Here’s an important one: it is alright to laugh when appropriate in the conversation. Laughter lightens the conversation and can make it enjoyable.
- Sometimes one-to-one conversations are easier than a group discussion. Face the person as you talk to them.
- Speaking slowly and clearly is always important. It is especially important for talking to people who have Alzheimer’s.
- Add to the conversation with visual cues, written cues and natural-looking signing.
- Don’t challenge them to recall something. That may only make them anxious.
- It can be hurtful to ignore the person and talk around them to their family or carer.
- Avoid arguing, by letting the conversation trail off if you don’t agree with what they said. You don’t have to give a full answer to every comment, you could just let it pass.
- Don’t talk to a person in a condescending or undignified manner.
- You don’t have to make conversation the whole time. It is alright to be silent sometimes and enjoy the companionship.
Now is the perfect opportunity to put these tips into practice, when the National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and Thanksgiving feature together.