Holiday from FTD? Not Bloody Likely! Top Ten Tips for Handling the Holidays

pumpkinsThanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year,  Kwanzaa. Whatever your choice of end-of-year festivity, you may have your work cut out to retain your sanity.

It’s that time of year. For those of us who are deeply entrenched in FTD, it’s the beginning of a season fraught with even more stress that usual.

You have managed to get through the last twelve months of attending to your loved one’s every need and whim. He or she may have deteriorated significantly during that time. There will have been new ‘phases’ every week month or even daily.It’s a lot to deal with.

And now, you’re expected to deal with that and all the other things your family want you to do. The usual.

The usual traveling, cooking, shopping. Wrapping, eating drinking.

Of course, your FTD’er probably doesn’t care about any of that. To him or her , it’s just another day.

You so desperately want to do the things you usually do. The family traditions. The foods you eat, the gifts you give, the places you visit.

Of course, things may be so significantly different now that some of these things are impossible. Maybe they can’t or won’t eat their once-favorite meat, side dish or gravy. Maybe all they want is dessert.

Maybe they want cereal. At every meal.

Traveling may now be impossible. Shopping will require  small army of sitters to watch over your loved one while you go out.

Here’s the biggest tip of all:

Don’t do it.

I’m not saying don’t have Christmas or Thanksgiving or Hanukkah.

I’m just saying forget any ideas you may have about making the holiday like it’s always been. The minute you accept that it will be different, it will get so much easier.

  • Traveling at peak times will be almost impossible if your loved one is anywhere near the middle stages of the disease process. Truculent – (there’s a nice old-fashioned word!)  doesn’t even begin to describe how stressful it will be at an airport, bus station or in your vehicle. Don’t do it.
  • Having large, noisy family gatherings at your house isn’t a good idea either. Being unable to follow conversations, or join in the fun will only lead to frustration for all. Don’t do it.
  • Short visits to friends or family may be ok, as long as you go to them and can choose to leave whenever your loved one gets fidgety.
  • If you have a small family group over at your house, be sure to encourage a nap time for your FTD’er and provide a quiet space they can go to escape.
  • When you serve food, just give them what you know they will eat.
  • Your loved one probably won’t get the “Holiday spirit” idea. It’s just another day to them.
  • Try to keep the routine as unchanged as possible. Fit visits to your place of worship into their usual schedule. Carry on with walks or other forms of exercise that they normally do.
  • Buying expensive gifts for your loved one probably won’t be appreciated or recognized. Go for practical.
  • If you want to get in the spirit and go gift shopping or out with friends, arrange a reliable sitter and go for it.
  • You deserve a break. Don’t turn down invitations to go solo.

And, as always – expect the unexpected. A new phase can start any minute. But don’t live in dread of it. Embrace your family and friends with as much joy as you can. Enjoy the time with your spouse/partner/friend. Make the most of every minute.

As I always say, love, love, love.

The holidays are about love, whatever your choice of festivity.

Give thanks that  you are together for one more year.  holiday image 1

4 thoughts on “Holiday from FTD? Not Bloody Likely! Top Ten Tips for Handling the Holidays

  1. Dear Deborah, this is SO how my daughters and I have started to view/deal with Mr. We do go to our own holiday cottage in the town where he was born so he still feels comfortable there. I drive him. However, we have already decided that Christmas lunch for him may be egg and chips, whatever – but when other people serve him meals he still eats what is offered. We have already done his last visit abroad to stay in hotels and then I booked the ‘special’ needs’ service at the airport so that we had our own attendant and were taken through side channels. Not sure if that service is available in US. Last year he had no idea what Christmas meant and wasn’t interested in presents. He wouldn’t touch the shirt our daughters gave him so we returned it to the shop. He didn’t know! This year it will be a boxed set of DVD’s of his favourite & the only TV programme he watches – NCIS! But I will have to operate the DVD as that understanding has long gone. I am in the process of booking respite care for next year as we will all need a Mr-free holiday by then. It will cost mega-bucks but it’s worth the peace of mind. You gives such sound advice.


    1. Thanks Toni!
      Ther is assistance service st US airports, but unfortunately I didn’t realize we needed it until it was too late! Its funny how you think things are not quite as advanced as they are sometimes. I think the respite for next year is a good idea. As you say, Mr doesn’t know about presents, time or holidays anymore. Time to take care of yourselves.


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