Should I send holiday card to friends of my husband, who has Alzheimer's?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Katiebee asked...

Should I send Season Greeting cards to people I don't know just because they are friends of my husband's, who is now in moderate stage Alzheimer's? If so, what do I say? It tires me to think of the task as I am very sad this holiday season.

Expert Answers

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

As a caregiver for a spouse with Alzheimer's, your sense of sadness is understandable especially at this Holiday season time. Personal losses can seem even more poignant when you sit down to send Holiday Cards expressing good wishes and cheer. It is even more challenging when your task is to 'speak for' your husband and express wishes to people you don't even know.

Sometimes an occasion like this can be an opportunity for you and your husband to join together in a 'therapeutic activity'..a time for him to reminisce about people and events from his past. It is possible that even at a moderate stage of dementia, his long term memory might be triggered by a name or picture of an old friend and he might recall something special about that person. This would enable you to "write in his words" a memory and a wish.

Individuals with dementia so often lose contact with their social support system because they lose the capacity to initiate and this might be an opportunity to renew a lost contact. If even one of those contacted calls or send wishes, it can bring some joy for him in the 'here and now'. And your feelings of sadness can be peppered with some sense of 'a job well done.'

Community Answers

Katiebee answered...

Thank you for your caring response which was so well-written.

I did send out Holiday greeting cards, but did it alone as he cannot articulate his thoughts. His speech is garbled and doesn't make sense.

Perhaps my question and your answer will help other people in my situation.

Ca-claire answered...

This is a thoughtful way to prompt people to contact those with dementia. We did Vistaprint postcards for Dad, and in it put his address and phone number, with an invitation to visit or enjoy a meal with him anytime they are in the area. It did prompt one of his nieces (normally a cold distant person) to bring her daughter and grandson to stop by for a short visit! Every little bit helps. You never know, if someone from KatieBee's husband's past chooses to visit, his speech may clear up enough for him to be understood.