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Thanksgiving is here and Christmas around the corner. Always stressful but more so as a caregiver this year...

Please share your tips that have kept you from going off the deep end last year and ways to have a positive experience for family including the loved one you care for...

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I suspected that my cousin, who I care for, would not recall that it was Thanksgiving Day, but I went to visit anyway. I took her some brightly colored Christmas items to hang on her wall and a new nightgown with purple cats. She was excited to see those things.

The Memory Care Unit had already had their holiday meal when I arrived, but she couldn't recall what they ate .

She told me she was glad I was there, because she wanted to discuss our Thanksgiving Day plans. (She didn't realize it was Thanksgiving.) I told her that we could discuss it and maybe we could make a Christmas list. She said great.

Later, she said we could go to Sunnygirl's house or your house. (Both are me.) It's odd because we have a family friend who believes she has two daughters. Kelly I and the other Kelly.

It was still a good holiday. She was feeling well and we chatted. She had no distress over not leaving the Unit for Thanksgiving because she doesn't realize it's arrived yet.

For Christmas, the Memory Care facility is planning a Christmas Party, so that will be fun. They have games and involve all that can be involved. The one at Halloween went well. She enjoyed games, that I assisted her with for about 20 minutes, and then she was done and ready to go to her room. She gets uncomfortable around too many people and noise.
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I work for a family that celebrates Christmas before the 25th with her sister who is mentally challenged. This way the family has the time to devote all of their attention to the sister as she enjoys gifts. The family then celebrates with each other on the 25th. My grandfather would open his gifts on Christmas Eve, even when he moved into the nursing home we visited every Christmas Eve. I do meal prep a day or two in advance so when the holiday comes, I'm not in the kitchen all of the time and I can enjoy the family. I can heat the precooked foods such as ham, sweet potatoes and broccoli casserole. If I'm doing a turkey I bake it on the holiday. You just have to figure what is right for you. It really helps me to break up the meal with prep ahead of time. You can also delegate duties to family members, I do and it's working good. The holidays, for me is all about love of God and family, enjoy the celebration. Remember you can't do everything at once, enjoy your family.
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As others have mentioned, I too get a lot of the cooking done in advance. doing that alone really frees me to be avavailable for my parent's increasing needs. I used to waste time feeling mad at my 4 siblings since they never ever come to visit.....wait there was one visit from one about 30 yrs ago, and another from a different one about 18 yrs ago.......honestly I am so mad at them all, I can't be mad anymore. They almost don't exist in my parents' minds either....they are just these voices that call up on holidays and say "Miss you, Love you both, wish we were there" and then they don't exist anymore. Well this Thanksgiving, I am not expecting anything different. Keeping expectations low, and being grateful for the people who actually are in your presence, is my key to sanity.
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Everyone knows mom has dementia, is incontinent and confused. She lives with us, it's exhausting and the house won't be perfect that's no secret so I make no apologies
She is part of my life, lives with us and so she is included in all festivities, conversation and whatever she can manage that day.
Thanksgiving/Christmas month : I bake, cook and freeze whatever I can ahead then throw them in the oven over the course of the (holiday) day or for unexpected guests.
Tree trimming party: everyone brings their favorite from soup to nuts to feast on while they do the work for me.
Having mom around is a lot like having a baby.If she needs a bathroom break, quiet time or feeding I know my guests /family can do without me for a short while.
I stopped worrying and hope those who visit will learn that old age is not a disease to be ashamed of.
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What stresses me more when I get attitude with no grattitude during this holiday season.
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I make it simple. I do buy Christmas cards and mom passes them out to her friends. I decorate her door . I bake a cake for the staff
It feels like Christmas when you do things that remind her of the holiday.I do the best we can
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Find the easiest way to do the least extra stress-inducing stuff. Remember that holidays are stressful because we let them be. It's arbitrary, right? I mean, we invented these events, parked them on our calendar, and then we think we are bound to "celebrate" them. We all need to think twice about what that means to us, and take it lightly!
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KISS - that's an acronym in business, but I think it applies to caregiving a loved one with dementia. Keep It Simple Stupid (I didn't make that one up). The less you plan, the less stress there will be. Just go with the flow because when the person with dementia wakes up Thanksgiving or Christmas, they will be a different person from the night before. Go with that day, and let them decide how they want to spend it. They may not have any meaning for the holidays. My husband, who was an airline pilot, was always flying on the holidays so everyone else could enjoy their holidays so he was never home, just in planes and hotels. We keep it simple, am having pork this year at his request, his favorite stuffing and coconut cream pie (he doesn't like pumpkin). I don't get stressed because I know by next year he will have forgotten this year.
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Maybe you can get your mom to do something for some other seniors that have no visitors or celebration. Perhaps some small item that she can give to others on her floor - a picture, a flower, a card?
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It's stressful for me. My mom is at the NH now. I just feel it's so important for her to feel she is still part of the family.
The last 3 years we celebrate Christmas with my mom day after Christmas. Most family members get together to the NH. I reserve a room and we meet and have a party. It helps me know that I celebrated with my mom. Although I go every day up to Christmas eve and visit. I know I've done my best to make it feel she is important. It's not good enough for my mom. Cause she complains and carries on with a stone face and looks sad. This year my our grandson with his mom and dad will visit us and hopefully that will brightened her day. I bring appetizers and refreshments and we exchange gifts. I feel mom is at the Nh for her safety and never forgotten. I'm there everyday and she gets many more visitors than most residents there. I do my best and put effort to take care of her needs daily. Outings, dr visits, extra meals, laundry. I still feel guilty at times but I remind myself it's for her safety. Take care.
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For me, I celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas the Sunday prior to the actual date. Like today was our Thanksgiving turkey dinner having my parents over to my house. I buy a fully cooked turkey dinner from the grocery store... a nice large Butterball turkey with all the fixings... all I need to do is heat and serve :)
It went well, the meal was great, but oh am I tired.

Another thing about having the celebration days earlier, the grocery stores aren't overloaded with shoppers, thus lot of items in stock and no long lines.
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