Caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s during the holidays

[anvplayer video=”5079619″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar held a virtual roundtable Wednesday morning on caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease this holiday season. Klobuchar, local caregivers, and health care professionals highlighted challenges families face and discussed coping strategies and resources.

Klobuchar’s father passed away this May after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Tips for caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia during the holidays from the Mayo Clinic include:

  • Planning for the holidays together by including a loved one in meal preparation, baking, decorating, and gift-wrapping activities;
  • Building on traditions and memories by playing favorite holiday music or movies and singing familiar songs;
  • Setting expectations with family members and explaining to outside guests that memory loss is the result of the disease and is not intentional;
  • Keeping gatherings to a small number of people and in a quiet space if possible;
  • Maintaining the loved one’s daily routine that is as close to normal as possible;
  • Creating familiar foods, tastes, and holiday smells and having favorite holiday objects on hand to engage different senses;
  • Ensuring there is adequate time to rest; and
  • Advising guests to give simple gifts, avoiding things like complicated electronic equipment, challenging board games, or tools.

Klobuchar was joined by David Friese, Pine Island Mayor; Dr. Katie Toering, family member of an Alzheimer’s patient; Kathy Scheid, Elder Network Executive Director; Marie Hlava, Southeast Minnesota Area Agency on Aging Board Member; and Joe Lobl, Resounding Voices Board President.

More than one in nine people in the U.S. over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. It is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. and is the 6th leading cause of death among U.S. adults. In 2021, over 6 million Americans lived with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is projected to grow to 14 million people by 2060. Additionally, over 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.