More than one in nine people in the U.S. over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease

Klobuchar’s father passed away this May after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) held a virtual roundtable this morning on caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease this holiday season. Klobuchar, local caregivers, and health care professionals highlighted challenges families face and discussed coping strategies and resources. Klobuchar’s father passed away this May after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Millions of Americans across the country have family members suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia,” said Klobuchar. “I know from my own experience with my dad, who passed away from Alzheimer’s earlier this year, that the holidays can be both a challenging and meaningful time to share with them. I was glad to talk with Minnesotans about steps they can take to connect with their loved ones and enjoy this special time of year.”

Tips for caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia during the holidays from leading researchers and caregivers include:

  • Planning for the holidays together by including a loved one in meal preparation, baking, decorating, and gift-wrapping activities;
  • Building on traditions and memories by playing favorite holiday music or movies and singing familiar songs;
  • Setting expectations with family members and explaining to outside guests that memory loss is the result of the disease and is not intentional;
  • Keeping gatherings to a small number of people and in a quiet space if possible;
  • Maintaining the loved one’s daily routine that is as close to normal as possible;
  • Preparing quiet distractions to use, such as looking at pictures, playing older familiar music, recalling a favorite day from years ago through story-telling, or going for a walk, if a loved one becomes upset or overstimulated;
  • Creating familiar foods, tastes, and holiday smells and having favorite holiday objects on hand to engage different senses;
  • Ensuring there is adequate time to rest; and
  • Advising guests to give simple gifts, avoiding things like complicated electronic equipment, challenging board games, or tools.

Klobuchar was joined by Julie Praska-Moser, Lutheran Social Service, Caregiver and Respite Service; Tara Giese, Lutheran Social Service, Statewide Program Director and family member of an Alzheimer’s patient; Jennifer Cole, Northwoods Caregivers, Dementia Program Manager; Emily Kollar, Eventide on Eighth Care Center, Executive Director; and Maicie Bentley, Hawley Senior Living, Clinical Nurse Supervisor, RN, LPN, CNA.

More than one in nine people in the U.S. over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. It is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. and is the 6th leading cause of death among U.S. adults. In 2021, over 6 million Americans lived with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is projected to grow to 14 million people by 2060. Additionally, over 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

More information on holiday tips can be found on the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s Association, and Mayo Clinic websites.

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