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5 Tips to Handle the Holidays as a Caregiver

The holiday season can be a time filled with nostalgia and tradition, but when you're caring for an elderly parent or relative, it can also be a time filled with stress and uncertainty. One of the best things you can do to get through the holiday stress is to simplify wherever possible.

The "Holiday Season" - that time from Thanksgiving through New Year's - is supposed to be happy times filled with get-togethers between friends, neighbors, and family.  They are a time of celebration and joy; a time to remind us all of the brilliant, wonderful things life has bestowed upon us.

Unfortunately, for many people, this special time of the year turns out to be a time when joy is replaced with sadness, love with anger, and contentment with anxiety. The demands on each of us during the "Holidays" are enormous. 

As we enter the Holiday season, most people find a bit of a tug at their hearts... All those Hallmark cards seem to bring a tear to your eye that much quicker. And yet, after the Holidays are over, it's back to our normal selves where we easily become overwhelmed by the problems and concerns of everyday life.

Will you be visiting your parents for the holidays?

Adult children of parents who are aging may not always look for changes that are happening to their parents, and often overlook them as they're painful to see.  In these instances, spouses may be the ones to prompt this conversation and point out something out of the ordinary that may be worrisome. 

It's typical of siblings who live closest to parents or those who visit most frequently to disregard warning signs (majority are gradual and easily unnoticed).  When other adult children or siblings visit during the holiday months, they're the individuals who are alarmed by their parent's condition.

Don't Fall for False Health Claims

You can't turn on the TV or scroll through social media without stumbling across new claims on how to beat Alzheimer's or dementia. While these reports often boast promising breakthroughs, how do you know if they're legitimate? The good news is you don't need to be a scientist to think like one. Follow these tips from the Alzheimer's Association to navigate the often confusing world of research.


How Caregivers Can Help Reduce Elderly Anxiety at Night

Facing reality is tough. Your aging parent needs you more than ever. Maybe Mom gets confused and moody, especially in the evenings. Or, you've had to keep a watchful eye on Dad, because he is now prone to agitation and pacing at night. 

Of course, you'll naturally worry about Mom or Dad, especially at night. You don't want your elderly loved one to suffer anxiety alone. But like many adult children, you can't stay overnight at his or her house.

Meantime, it's likely Mom or Dad's "Sundowning" syndrome will worsen. Sundowning behaviors may indicate dementia or the beginning of Alzheimer's. "Up to one out of five people with Alzheimer's get sundown syndrome. But it can also happen to older people who don't have dementia," according to  WebMD.

Don't wait. Be prepared now to get professional help for Mom or Dad, because if your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, his or her chances of falling are on the rise.

"In Our Right Mind" Documentary to be Screened on December 5

See a one-day free screening of the documentary "In Our Right Mind: Alzheimer's and Other Dementias' Impact in Communities of Color" on Thursday, December 5 at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theatre in Baltimore. In Our Right Mind questions why communities of color are disproportionately impacted, how a collaboration of faith based, community and service organizations that frame health issues like Alzheimer's as part of a larger story of health disparities and inequalities can all work to change the narrative from one of despair and resignation to hope and empowerment.

A question-and-answer session with the filmmaker Renee Chenault-Fattah will follow the film. You must register to attend.