We had not seen my brother in almost 2 years. I was worried that if he didn't come for Christmas, who knows what mom would be like by the next holiday. However, there was a little thing called a global pandemic.
We turned down opportunities for gatherings and background acting work. We turned down everything that could be optional. We kept our distance from everyone at church and left mom at home to watch online. We did not want to take any chances.
That is what it's like when your loved one has Alzheimer's disease. You have to prioritize. You have to say no to some good things and good people. We are playing the long game here.
We know we may not have it all right now. We give up for now to get the most out of today. It has all been well worth it!
Making it work
It's funny - I don't miss any of those things we gave up.
I'm not sad that we watched the Christmas Eve service online. We gave up our seats so others could attend in-person. We got to watch at our leisure in safety and comfort. We could pause for potty breaks and video chats with family across the country.
We made it all work.
New traditions, new memories
I cooked a lot, we got take-out some, and we ate a lot of leftovers. We played games and watched movies. I must say, I am very surprised that my Hallmark and vintage Perry-Mason-loving mother really got into Die Hard, a Christmas classic.
We paused when our son had to leave, but she wanted to keep watching. She even asked questions, like, "Do you think he will have enough bullets?" Maybe the intense action kept her attention. Usually, she falls asleep and doesn't know when one Hallmark movie ends and the next movie begins - most people have that criticism.
Tonight, we are watching Tremors, a monster movie from 1990, as we wait to ring in the New Year. My brother made it after all, so we let him pick. I know the rule of thumb is not to let them watch the news or anything too intense because they can get agitated.
These movies seem to be working in her favor! She is rooting for them and talking to the screen telling the characters to "Get out!" Just like the rest of us! She said she wasn’t really scared. "It was interesting to see what they were going to do about it."
She is such a good sport.
Family and being together
The holidays, for me, are about family and being together. Every year I am grateful to be together. I don't take it for granted. Maybe I don't get all the parties and all the cookies, but there are enough to need a resolution in the new year. I can pick and choose.
I choose making memories with those closest, even if the memories are a little wacky and out of the box. They can be the best ones! The holidays in a house with the unwanted guests of Alzheimer's disease or a global pandemic can still be happy holidays.
What are your family traditions? What new things have surprisingly worked for you?
Which, if any, of the following most often trigger agitation in your loved one living with Alzheimer's disease?