How to cope with a family member who has Alzheimer's around the holidays
(NBC News) -
For a family that has someone with Alzheimer's, the holidays can mean hurt feelings when they forget who you are, when they yell at you or repeatedly ask the same questions.
One family from Texas explains how they handle these harder times this time of year.
This video was taken two years ago when Janice Sachs was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's .
This year is going to be different and the whole family is waiting with anticipation.
Kelly Ulanday, Janice's daughter said, "No sibling rivalry in the house, you have to, you have to keep things down."
Kelly's kids were young when their grandma was diagnosed.
But they understand the disease with open dialogue.
John Sachs, Kelly's father said, "You got to step into her world and try to look at what's going on through her eyes ..."
Clinical social worker with Houston Methodist, Rebecca Axline, says their family is doing everything right.
But adds a different explanation for families with younger children or learning about the disease for the first time.
Rebecca Axline, a clinical social worker said, "Six to eight years old you're just going to be simple about the explanation and then just say that things might be a little different. Grandma might forget your name because you look a lot like me and so grandma might get confused because she remembers me as a little girl"
John and Kelly say Janice can't remember them but still gives them comfort.
Kelly Ulanday, Janice's daughter said, "She said oh yes Christmas, I love Christmas, it's my favorite holiday. It's when all the kids and everybody comes over and we spend time together as a family. So even through all of this, our family, are the first thing in her heart. And she said I love my family dearly, they're the most important thing to me."
Experts say Alzheimer's patients can have memories from long ago easier than recent memories.
They say you can still include family members on holiday tradition by asking them multiple choice questions like do you like green Christmas trees or sparkly ones.
They can also sometimes remember bible verses or music.