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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Watson

Thanksgiving and Alzheimer's

There is a new guest this year for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately it is not a very welcome guest. Alzheimer's, Dementia... It goes by different names. Often it creates anxiety.

Anxiety is felt, not only in the one with this dreadful disease but also in the adult child or spouse. They often are upset because they do not know what to do.

"Should we bring Mom to the house for the holiday?" a son asks. "I really hate to leave her alone on a holiday but I don't know if I can handle her behavior" a daughter laments. Families experience an array of emotions from fear to guilt.

We Want To Do the Right Thing

We want to do the right thing for mom or dad. Not having them at the annual Thanksgiving Day celebration would just seem awful. And let's face it, many of us are worried about what other family members will think if Mom is not there. We also know that those who have not been around much will be surprised at what they see. They may judge us.

No Matter What You Choose To Do There Will Always Be Those Who Judge

If you bring mom, some will say you shouldn't have. If you don't bring Mom, others will say it was awful that you excluded her. So stop trying to please others.

If You Are The Primary Care Manager- Do What is Best for Both You And Your Mom

If mom is prone to anxiety and exhibits behavioral problems bringing her to a family gathering may not be a good situation. The noise, crowd and flurry of activity may be more that she can handle. And if she gets upset you probably will also. Then Aunt Susie or your brother Tom will step in to tell you how you are "doing it all wrong".

Their Intentions Are Good

They really want to help. And they feel guilty. So they step in and to you it feels like they are stepping all over you. Suddenly that happy family meal is feeling more like a riot.

Help Them to Feel Included

After you family meal, suggest that small groups take turns visiting with mom in her new home. One could bring dinner to eat with her, another dessert and another could bring some family photos to reminisce.

Everyone is experiencing pain with this illness. Remember to be kind to yourself, your parent or spouse and your siblings. Everyone is grieving and we all do it differently. Try to focus on what is good and be Thankful.

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