Tips for making the holidays manageable

Some suggestions if you're the family elder:

Adjust your expectations. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage.

Choose activities and traditions that are most important to you, and eliminate the rest. If time with family is the priority, skip cooking and host a potluck or get restaurant meals to go.

Some suggestions if you're the son or daughter:

If Mom or Dad insists on playing host but can't handle the job, organize other family members to take over tasks. Frame the change as the passing down of family traditions to the next generation. Allow your parent to retain as much control — and dignity — as possible.

If siblings are pitching in, arrange a pre-holiday meeting or conference call so everyone can get on the same page.

Stay focused on what matters and what doesn't. If Mom wants to wear pajama bottoms to the family holiday party, perhaps that's OK.

Involve Mom and Dad in the festivities. Bake together, look through family photographs. Ask Mom or Dad to teach traditions to the next generation.

If people outside the family usually come, send a note in advance explaining the new tradition: "Cousin Susie will be hosting us for Thanksgiving this year as we look to hand down our family traditions to the next generation. ..."

If a family member lives in a care facility, consider joining him or her in holiday activities there. Bring a favorite holiday food to share. Sing holiday songs; ask if other residents can join in. Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud.

For more suggestions, go to or call the 24-hour hotline, (800) 272-3900.

Source: Alzheimer's Assn.

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