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5 tips to celebrate a safe Christmas with a person with Alzheimer’s

This atypical year 2020 comes to an end and, with it, the typical Christmas celebrations. Traditional dinners and lunches during these holidays will be unusual due to the restrictions imposed to contain the transmission of the virus. In addition, having a relative with dementia among our guests implies taking extreme precautions, following the instructions of the Department of Health and the Ministry of Health, since dementia can make them even more vulnerable.

This Christmas will be different for all of us, but it will be even more so for people with cognitive impairment who have had their lives and routines altered for almost a year. For this reason, from Fundació ACE we want to provide family members and caregivers with some advices to celebrate these holidays with people suffering from a dementia:

1. Involve the person with cognitive impairment in the celebrations. Do not leave her alone, even this may lead to an alteration in your schedule. If she has afraid of being infected during a family gathering or does not want to take the risk, make her feel accompanied during the day. You can visit her and bring her a gift, have a coffee with her, decorate her home together, play a board game, or just have a nice and calm conversation… during this holiday season the most important gift will be your time with her.

2. In the same way that she needs to be a part of Christmas festivities, the main caregiver must be helped. It is important to organize yourself so that one person does not carry all the work. Rest and fun are necessary for both, people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.

3. If we have a person with cognitive impairment among our guests, take extreme precautions. Ventilate the spaces, make sure that all attendees perform adequate hand hygiene, keep a safe distance and wear the mask as long as possible.

4. We must control the food and drink. People with Alzheimer's sometimes do not detect a feeling of fullness and continue to eat, which can lead to discomfort later. With the drink we must be careful, since it could interact with the medication. Antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs enhance the effect of alcohol.

5. We have to try to maintain habitual cognitive and physical activity on holidays. Reading, playing, going for a walk, painting, dancing... You also have to try to keep the same schedules in terms of medication and rest.

Despite the extraordinary measures that we are obliged to follow, it is possible to celebrate a safe Christmas if we follow the instructions of the health authorities, respect the hygienic rules (hand washing, use of a mask and maintain a safe distance) and help people with dementia to keep to them.

We wish you a safe and happy Christmas and a hopeful new year.

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