Monday, December 21, 2009

Alzheimer's & The Christmas Holiday

Christmas time can be confusing and exhausting for an Alzheimer's patient. It can also be a positive experience.

Like most things, I can't tell how Pat will react. At least, not until I see her facial expression change, her hands start to shake, and the confusion fully planted behind her eyes, and by then it is too late. I'm sure this is the case for most caregivers.

There is no blueprint for Alzheimer's patients. While there are similiarities, it is not cut and dry. I thought I would point that out before discussing how our Christmas preparations with Pat are going.

This weekend was the launch of our "Christmas season". We began with decorating the tree and sugar cookie making. Pat did okay with both. Last year she could care less about the tree but this year she hung a few different ornaments without direction or hesitation. The sugar cookies were a hit for her too. It took us a while to get her out to the table. Once I realized it was because she thought we wanted her to cook the cookies, I was able to coax her out. She thoroughly enjoyed  our mistakes and various candies that didn't fit the color scheme.

Sunday was the party with her family. That morning she signed her cards without much confusion and we were done within 20 minutes! I had expected it to go a lot slower for her, but I think having something to focus her mind on, grounded her. Plus, we left around noon and had the party earlier than normal so she would be at her best point during the day.

Getting out the door was a little stressful. The normal worries about hat, boots, the newest confusion about my coat being hers, and we were off. The ride up was quiet. I tried to keep her focused on where we were going by talking about seeing the kids and grandchildren, but she couldn't retain it.

Once we got there, out of the car with the normal sneakers in the plastic bag, gloves put back on, getting her legs under her, shuffle to the steps, in the door, okay- go all the way through... ahhhh, we had a great time!

It was so nice to see her laughing... and living. Her whole family was there and my heart welled with happiness for her. It is so hard to get everyone together and I know it is what she needs. She needs more than Mark and I, especially during the holidays. She needs those warm hugs from those she loves the most. When I see her hug others, I feel she is trying to hang on with each one.

This morning she remembered yesterdays party still. She slept past 7:30 until 10:30! We started to worry because she NEVER sleeps in. She seems to be happier today. By tonight she may not remember any of it but she had it for a while.

So far Christmas has been fun for her and us. It is going to seem so strange without her here on Christmas morning because she is such a big part of the family. Still, it will be nice to wake up Christmas morning and not have to tell her that it is indeed Christmas day over and over and over again. Pat will be with other family this year for Christmas and I think that's great! They can give her the Christmas cheer and extra love she needs this year.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Christina,

    I hope you, Mark, Pat and all your families have a Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
    I will write some time in the holidays.

    Kind regards,

    Mags. xxx