No one can predict how much impact Alzheimer’s will actually have on a person until it starts happening. When your dad has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to consider what stage he’s at when you’re making holiday plans. If you had holiday traditions, he may not embrace them as thoroughly as he did. Holidays won’t be exactly as they used to be for him or other close family members. It’s important to take his feelings into consideration. Here are things you need to consider and how Alzheimer’s care can help.
His Tastes Change
Don’t be surprised to learn your dad hates foods he used to love. He always raved over your pumpkin spice cupcakes, but now he says they’re disgusting. He used to love shrimp, but he won’t touch them now. It happens.
Be ready with simpler foods that may appeal to him more. Instead of a turkey dinner, you may need to have chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese ready for him. A wide variety of options helps assure there’s something he’ll want to eat.
Another common issue is that he demands one thing, so you make the other, and he doesn’t want that either. Serve it anyway, as it’s likely he’ll forget what he said and eat every bite. That’s also common behavior with Alzheimer’s.
Chewing and Swallowing Become Difficult
Chewing food properly will change in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. Because he could choke, have softer foods available. Mashed potatoes, pureed butternut squash, and soups are easy to swallow. If he wants meat, cut it into small pieces for him.
He Won’t Be Comfortable In Crowds
It’s a tradition that all of the kids, grandkids, aunts, uncles, and cousins gather for a holiday meal. Typically, this means about 20 people are in your dad’s house for the day.
People with Alzheimer’s typically withdraw and feel anxious in large crowds. You need to consider your dad’s comfort level. If having everyone over causes him to retreat and be anxious, avoid a large gathering. You can have one on your own, but don’t bring your dad to it.
Only allow people he’s closest to at a dinner in his home. He might be comfortable with only his kids. Leave the grandkids and spouses at home and do what makes your dad happy.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, he will withdraw more and reach a point where his care needs are very advanced. Alzheimer’s care aides are the next step. Even if you’ve been providing his care to this point, the time comes when you need a break.
His care needs will reach a point where he needs help with toileting, feeding, ambulation, and bathing. He may be very resistant and fight his caregiver. An Alzheimer’s care aide has a lot of experience and training to ensure his care needs are met, even if he’s having a particularly bad day.