Can We Make Alzheimer’s Care a Celebratory Journey?
After receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the last thing anyone wants to think about is celebrating. But as many have found, positivity and gratitude are two effective ways of coping with a terminal illness or degenerative disease, reminding us to cherish what we have, for the amount of time we have left. If you have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in San Mateo or elsewhere, or your aging loved one has been diagnosed with it, remember: how you choose to live is still within your control. Family members with a loved one in hospice may want to consider turning their Alzheimer’s journey into a celebration of life. This attitude shift could improve overall quality of life, lift spirits, and give a sense of well-being and purpose.
Research shows that maintaining a positive perspective in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is key, with celebrations of any kind having significant benefits for those affected by the disease. The best thing to do when it comes to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is to stay as proactive as possible and keep a sense of humor, even when you’re having a bad day, says Everyday Health. Whether you’re just cherishing time together or honoring family milestones, it’s important to foster a spirit of celebration to help improve your loved one’s self-esteem while providing small moments of joy.
Maintaining Moments of Joy
Those moments of joy may get further and further apart as your loved one progresses through hospice, but they should still be there, shining bright. Yes, your loved one may have lost the ability to really understand what’s going on or to fully be aware of their surroundings, but those little times of celebration are still special – and important – for everyone in the family. Include loved ones with memory loss in family gatherings, holidays, and Zoom calls, while still taking the time to celebrate the special moments that are inherent in each and every day.
Even during the last stages of Alzheimer’s, even when your loved one seems almost out of reach, it’s critical for family members to remember their loved one isn’t gone. Rather, their loved one still deserves to enjoy life, even if they are unable to express it in the ways they used to.
Here are some tips on how you can go about that:
- Encourage your loved one whenever they accomplish a task, even simple ones like choosing an outfit for the day or making a decision on what to have for lunch.
- Spend time outdoors to observe and enjoy nature.
- Share quality time looking through photographs, scrapbooking, watching old movies, listening to tunes, and visiting with friends and family, even if it’s a virtual visit.
- Enjoy meals together.
- Talk about what you are all grateful for.
- Reminisce about the good old days.
- Record family recipes from your aging loved one so they are preserved forever.
- Keep a journal of old family stories.
- Focus on abilities rather than limitations: Don’t always emphasize their declining abilities; instead, remain focused on what they can still do and celebrate those remaining strengths.
- Get them involved: Include them in everyday activities to the extent they are able. Celebrate every day by doing activities they love, such as baking cookies, listening to a favorite album or sitting out on the front porch to watch the birds.
- Honor traditions: Even though their disease keeps them from remembering special dates like birthdays or anniversaries, honor the important traditions that come with those events anyway. This dedication shows you care, plus it helps them connect to their past memories.
Help your loved one embrace life’s big and small moments by staying positive and by looking for the best in all situations. Often times, we are all so busy with the busy-ness of our lives that we fail to see the small nuggets of wonder and glory present in each day. This is a chance to revisit that wonder and excitement, as seen through the eyes of someone who has meant so much to you for so long. Celebrate it all: the nice weather, new accomplishments, fragrant flowers, time spent with friends, etc.
When you share these moments with a loved one, you’re creating special opportunities to connect with them on levels you may never have before.
Yes, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is life-altering, bringing changes that can be tough for family members to accept. However, if you buy into the expectation that your loved one with dementia will withdraw and shrivel up, you’re buying into a self-fulfilling prophecy. When caregivers and family members see the disease as an end-of-the-line diagnosis, they can’t and won’t be prepared to help them continue leading a meaningful, fulfilling life.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Our hospice care team has extensive experience caring for those with Alzheimer’s in our hospice program. To learn more about how we can help you and your family make Alzheimer’s care a celebratory journey, contact us at 888-978-1306.