Controlled Celebrations

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Today is my husband, Marshall’s birthday, and we celebrated with a small group for lunch–just my sister, Patti, brother-in-law, Parke, and daughters Lisa and Erin. Lunch time is Marshall’s best time of day as he is up and going but not yet into sundowners. And six adults at one table in a quiet corner of a family restaurant offered enough of a group to be festive but small enough not to have more conversations going than he could handle.

Celebrations with loved ones with advanced Alzheimer’s are best when closely controlled. All of their limited and diminishing brain power is required to complete basic tasks leaving them with little energy to process additional stimulation. Every person, sound, flashing light, and movement requires energy they do not have. No doubt they are quickly depleted.

Celebrating milestones and holidays with our loved one is important to us, but we have to ask what is best for them. The event is not beneficial to them if they are left agitated, frustrated, and exhausted.

Think creatively, and you will find a plan that allows you and your family to include your loved one without causing them undue stress.Here are a few points to consider:

  • Weather. People with Alzheimer’s are often chilled. Cold, damp weather makes them uncomfortable.Most often, they require more layers than we do.
  • Travel. Getting in and out of a vehicle is difficult for unstable individuals, and traveling is tiring. It’s best to limit travel time.
  • People. Large groups are not only exhausting but also can be frightening. Loved ones may recognize that they don’t remember names of people who feel familiar and also not recognize the majority of people around them, causing them great stress.
  • Stimulation. Lights, loud music, and large numbers of people moving around them has to be processed. Events such as weddings are most often too stimulating for them.

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(Have you seen my posts on my blogs Midwest Mary and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page?)

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3 comments

  1. Happy Birthday to Marshall!!! I am so happy y’all were able to celebrate it. Oh the “sundowners!” How that brought back memories for me. One thing which used to help us and Mom, I would take her riding around and get her a malt. For some reason it seemed to calm her and she would always get sleepy. Sleepy also meant she would get calm. Hang in there Mary and I love the picture! Thanks for sharing so much. Love you, Marshall, and God Bless, SR

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    1. Thank you, SR. Ice cream is like magic, isn’t it? To think a malt could do the trick, but it is understandable. So smooth, cool, and sweet. The caregivers at Marshall’s home remind me, “redirection, redirection, redirection.” And what a great way to redirect?

      I appreciate your comments, SR. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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  2. Trudy Monti · · Reply

    Mary and Marshall, Harry and I just tried to call unsuccessfully the telephone numbers that we had for you to wish Marshall a happy birthday and to catch up on his status. I’m glad you posted this so we could catch up over the Internet. We think of you often and just wanted you and Marshall to know that we’re thinking of him on his special day. Our prayers are with both of you.
    Our love always,
    Trudy & Harry Monti

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