It is the holiday season! The family has not been together for a couple years now due to the pandemic. It is going to be wonderful. Nanna is looking forward to seeing her boys and their families. Nanna was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. She lives alone but has a wonderful neighbor who has been able to assist with transportation, shopping, and companionship.

One of Nanna’s sons has invited the whole family to his home for the Christmas holiday. He has the space and has not been able to see Nanna as much as he had wanted since the pandemic mandates were lifted. This left him a bit unsure about how she was doing or how she is managing her diagnosis. He had about 6 weeks to prepare so he decided to check in on her status and make the arrangements for her transportation.

He made a call to her neighbor and talked with his brother, who recently visited Nanna, to help with a few things around the house. He was surprised to hear she was experiencing progressed confusion and a thing called sundowning. She was mobile but didn’t want to use a cane for stability, most of the time.

After his conversation with those she had recently interacted with he had a long talk with his brother. They both were feeling at a loss, not really knowing how to deal with the holiday and how to accommodate Nanna. They also knew they would have to make some changes for her care in the new year. Her son searched the internet and made a few more calls.
He was looking for help in understanding her disease and what he could expect during her day with the whole family. There could be up to 20 people in the house at one time. He found a reference for Aging Life Care Managers® and saw some local listings. This sounded like a great place to start.

He contacted the first care manager on the list, and she was able to advise him on what he could do to prepare for her visit, and then she talked about ways that she could also assist the family and Nanna in planning for the future. This was such a relief. He spoke with his brother, and they agreed to sign up for care management services. When the care manager made the first visit to Nanna’s home to do a meet and greet to figure out the right transportation for the holiday, Nanna was very welcoming. The care manager asked Nanna if she could come back for another visit and Nanna was excited that she would come again for a visit.

Here are a few tips she shared.

  • Advise those attending that Nanna was not what they remembered, she may not remember them, or events that they want to talk about.
  • Ask her questions but don’t press for an answer if she doesn’t remember or is incorrect in her recollection.
  • Noise and bright lights may be agitating so it will be important to provide Nanna with a quiet place to visit with a smaller group or take a quick nap.
  • Do include her in table setting, meal prep or what ever she is up for. She may need directions through out the day, so be patience and kind in providing those directions. At times she may say, “I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing,” the aging care manager observed her saying that when she met with Nanna and noted it was stated a couple of times.
  • Reassure her that she isn’t supposed to be doing anything, tell her to just enjoy yourself, or suggest she give you a hand. Put some music on for a group sing along or to wake up some memories of the past.
  • Make sure she is hydrated, don’t offer alcohol, know that sundowning starts in early afternoon, so energy, mood and another level of confusion may present itself. She may be ready to leave sooner than the family wants, so make sure the main things you wanted to do with her are done early in her visit, like opening gifts or eating.
  • In Nanna’s case, she would gladly have dessert and miss dinner.

With these tips in mind her son planned a wonderful day. His brother picked her up about noon and she spent 4 hours with her loving family and grandchildren. There were a few challenges but due to the prior planning tips the care manager provided so there were no big surprises. Nanna was so happy to see everyone. When she was ready to leave, she made sure she hugged everyone on her way out the door and tried to repeat their names.

On the ride home she asked if that nice lady, the care manager was going to be dropping by again. She wanted to make sure she had tea and cake on hand. Her son said she would be seeing her soon; they were going to meet about making plans for Nanna. He was glad to hear her desire to visit with her again. It helped remove any doubt that he and his brother were on the right path for Nanna’s future.

The care manager let us know that she could come back for a longer visit to assess where Nanna was in her journey and to make some recommendations for both short- and long-term needs. Over time the recommendations she made were very helpful and really showed her expertise and consideration for Nanna. Nanna was very welcoming so the visits were successful for immediate needs and provided some insight to what may be needed for the long term.

It all started with a holiday party and shifted into a valuable resource as Nanna’s health deteriorated and they were able to get her the right care to meet her needs and give her a quality life despite her illness. If you have an aging parent or grandparent who has had an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, please give us a call at 585-787-0009 or email us at We’ll be happy to assist!