Familiarity Can Lift the Spirits of Alzheimer's Patients

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Mom’s eyes lit up tonight. The reason – a holiday greeting card addressed to her and Dad had just arrived from Mom’s old roommate, Junior. Mom slowly opened it and painstakingly read every word that Junior had written. Ten minutes later after she finished deciphering Junior’s words, Mom carefully handed the card and envelope over to me. I then proceeded to read the card aloud to my father (with the idea that Mom would hear Junior’s message again, in case she had misread anything).

    Getting a holiday card – or any kind of personal note – means a lot to people with Alzheimer’s disease. Mom won’t remember that she received Junior’s card tomorrow, but I’ve carefully placed the card in a key spot in her nursing home room. Hopefully, when my father visits tomorrow, he will bring Mom’s attention to the card so that Mom gets another opportunity to reconnect with a friend. Dad will take another card over that just arrived from their friend, Bob. Thus, by continually pointing out the cards from her friends, we’ll be able to help Mom have some link to the holiday season.
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    Seeing Mom’s joy in getting the card has added a new twist to my parents’ holiday traditions. Dad has volunteered to address Christmas cards (which was always Mom’s task). He’ll then take the cards to the nursing home so Mom has an opportunity to sign the cards before sending them. Thus, Mom will be able to be in touch in her own way with people she has cherished, such as Junior and Bob.

    Finding ways to keep a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease engaged in the holidays isn’t easy. Many of the old traditions fall by the wayside as the love one’s memory slips. But sending and receiving Christmas cards and holiday letters provide one great way for your loved one to connect with the true spirit of the Holiday season.
Published On: December 27, 2006