Countless movies, television shows and jokes have been written about the horrors of a family holiday together. Any theme that popular must be rooted in a universal truth. Holidays together are wonderful - and wonderfully challenging. Here is a way to find the "wonderful".

When dealing with a person with memory loss, day to day events are easily forgotten; however, big events from their past are often etched into their memory. Just being surrounded by the visual stimuli of the holidays (Christmas tree, holiday lighted neighborhoods, menorah, Santa Clause) can often trigger a vast outpouring of stories from your loved one ("Oh, the Christmas the lights went out . . .").  My mother, during Christmas might forget if she had eaten lunch, but could tell me what dress she wore to the Christmas party at the "Big House" back in 1947. Listen to these stories (sometimes over and over and over) with joy that the holiday season can take your loved one back to times in their life which are vivid, detailed and alive. 

As for you, the caregiver, lighten up. See the humor, even if it is tinged with a bit of darkness. Enjoy the parts of the holiday that are dear to you. Utilize visiting family members to lighten your responsibilities. Don't hesitate to ask for help. Many hands make light work and your loved one will benefit from the variety of social contacts. Plus, your other family members can listen to the story about "the Christmas the lights went out" for three or four times, giving you a respite.

Happy, Contented Holidays Everyone

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