Easing holiday stress on Alzheimer’s patients

Helpful tips include having familiar holiday movies, songs on hand

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – When Richard Weiss met his wife Penny 62 years ago, it was love at first sight.

“The minute I laid eyes on her I was gone,” Weiss said with a smile.

Their first date sealed the deal.

“She told her Aunt she met the fellow she was going to marry,” he said. “The chemistry was phenomenal.”

They shared a vibrant life together until Penny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

“I lost my wife about 8 years ago,” Weiss said, referring to how the disease steals the mind and memories of its victims.

Licensed physical therapist Mateo Martinez created a company called Mind and Mobility, which deals with a variety of physical and mental challenges.

“From neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s to basic orthopedic conditions like a total hip or knee replacement,” Martinez said.

When it comes to memory disorders, Martinez said the holiday season can lead to troubling changes.

“With a lot of clients during the holidays there’s an increased amount of confusion or an increased amount of agitation and the family should know that,” Martinez said.

To reduce problems, Martinez recommends setting aside a quiet space for the affected family member to go for breaks.

Also, have favorite movies and music at hand, and appoint family members to share duties, Martinez adds.

“The last thing we recommend is if the individual needs additional help, engage in respite services with a licensed home health agency,” Martinez said.

While holding on to the memories Weiss and his wife created, he said his philosophy on life remains simple.

“It is what it is. Don’t try to change it or complain about it, just accept it for whatever it happens to be,” Weiss said.

Martinez said behavior during the later stages of Alzheimer’s can be unpredictable, which is why the more information family and friends have on a patient, the better the experience will be during holiday gatherings.

About the Author:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.