Independence Day to many of us includes patriotic music, cookouts with friends and families and of course, beautiful fireworks. But if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, you want to consider highly modifying how you celebrate.
Crowds and noises can be upsetting to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The further they are along in their journey, the greater the likelihood that he or she doesn’t know it’s July 4th or what the day represents. As I learned with my wife Elaine as her Alzheimer’s progressed, special days are no longer about our friends, community or how to enjoy a festive gathering. As a caregiver, you have to remember it’s their world now. If you find a happy medium, if you find a way to share a smile or a few kind words, consider the day a fantastic success.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s, we must leave expectations at the door. All of the joy we knew as children about the Fourth of July may be gone. Loud, crowded celebrations can make someone with dementia feel overwhelmed. You must watch and listen to your loved one for cues about what makes them happy or uneasy. Read her expressions and if she seems uncomfortable, it’s best for everyone that you kindly excuse yourselves and find a quiet place. Know that he or she may become easily agitated, by no choice of his/her own.
Patriotic music may set you free
We know that music can be a wonderful way to share quality time with a loved one with Alzheimer’s. He or she may hear patriotic songs and start to sing or tap their feet to the beat. Music is, after all, one thing that can bring someone with a dementia back to the present. They may like the colors, but may not remember that red, white and blue are our national hues, and decorations with them may provide a moment of happiness, much like seeing a flower in bloom during a walk.
Forgo bright lights
On the same level, you may think that sparklers are a quieter way to enjoy sights of the day, but like fireworks, they may be upsetting because of the flickering, errant light.
The bottom line is that your loved one with Alzheimer’s no longer has independent days. He or she is physically and emotionally in a different world and for you, the caregiver to enjoy a special day like July 4, you must enter their world, be patient and find celebration in unexpected, simple ways.