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Winter 2013 Newsletter
Keeping the Holidays Happy



The holidays are a time of family gatherings, traditions and special celebrations. For individuals with dementia and their families, this can be an overwhelming time of year-but it doesn't have to be. By including your loved one with memory loss in your plans and making some adjustments to your holiday season, you can continue to create warm memories while minimizing stress and challenges.

  • Keep it small. Have a few different gatherings throughout the holiday or host a more intimate dinner to avoid the crowds and noise that may aggravate or confuse individuals with dementia.  
  • Stick to the schedule. A familiar routine, including sleep and meal times, and familiar settings will help your loved one feel more comfortable.
  • Allow others to help you. Your visiting family may want to help but aren't sure of the best way; show them how they can lend a hand.
  • Modify traditions. Limiting or altering your traditions in a way that your loved one can participate will help the person feel included.
  • Engage the individual. Choose activities such as singing, dancing, storytelling and looking through photo albums that may help spark memories.
  • Enjoy yourself. The greatest gift caregivers can give themselves at the holidays: time. Carve some time for yourself-time for holiday shopping, dinner with friends or a walk through the park. 
Sit Down With Social Workers

Q: Each year, my family has attended the midnight mass at our church. I want to continue this tradition but my parents said that my grandmother, who has dementia, would not be comfortable. I'm unhappy giving up my traditions, but want to be supportive of my grandmother. What should I do? 

A:  Having a family member with Alzheimer's disease can be a big adjustment for everyone in the family.  It's important to remember that the needs and feelings of ALL family members (including you!) are valid. It may be useful to start off by thinking about the reasons why this tradition is important to you (i.e., it brings the family together, gives you a sense of connection to the community).  This may help you get to the heart of the matter so that you can begin a dialogue with your parents about how they can honor your feelings as well as your grandmother's needs.  


Together, you and your parents can brainstorm creative solutions that would satisfy everyone's needs.  Some ideas to consider may include:  DVRing a television broadcast of a midnight mass and watching it as a whole family together on Christmas day, attending a daytime service with your grandmother, and/or arranging for an aide to stay with your grandmother while you and your parents attend the midnight mass.  


Whatever you and your parents decide upon, the most important thing is for everyone to recognize and work around the fact that the family situation has changed.  Even if the tradition is not exactly as it was in past years, opening up a dialogue about your feelings will not only help to create new family traditions, but will likely help you to feel more connected to your family during this special time of year.  


Do you have a question for AFA's social workers? Email for inclusion in the next newsletter or call 866-232-8484 to speak directly to a social worker. 

Take Action Today! 
  • Start a Chapter and Help Our Organization Grow! Chapters are a great way to learn more about Alzheimer's disease; help raise awareness of the disease; build leadership skills; volunteer in your community; and carry out chapter programs including fundraising and educational events. 
  • Contribute a piece of artwork, poem, video or other creative work to our "Creative Contribution" website in honor of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. See samples...
  • Read, and contribute to,  a blog written for students by their peers and professionals in the field. Read our latest post ...
  • Participate in an interactive discussion board with other teens impacted by Alzheimer's disease. Log in here...
For information about how to begin a chapter or participate in any of these opportunities, please call 866-232-8484 or email 
December 23, 2013
Have You Graduated? 
Are you an AFA Teens subscriber that is now attending college? Graduate to AFA on Campus, a division for college students, by taking this survey...

The Progress Unlimited Inc., Owings Mills, Md.,  held a fall festival  to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's disease. The event included carnival games, a bake sale and a community yard sale. The chapter donated $65 to AFA following the event. 
AFA Teens welcome a new chapter this semester: McLean High School, Vienna, Va.
The AFA Teens Advisory Board welcomed three new members this semester! Introducing: 
Dina Gad, Vienna, Va.  
Aliya Farmanali, Las Vegas, Nev. 
Sydney Stepovich, El Cajon, Calif. 
February 15, 2014: Deadline to apply for the AFA Teens for Alzheimer's Awareness College Scholarship. For details and eligibility, visit...

February 18, 2014: AFA Teens Skype Support Group begins. The eight-week series will be facilitated by a licensed AFA social worker from 4-5 p.m. (ET) on Tuesdays from Feb. 18 - April 8. Space is limited. For more information and to register, call 866-232-8484 or e-mail 

May 19, 2014: Deadline to apply for the 2014 - 2015 AFA Teens Advisory Board. For more information, email or visit...
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Teens in the Spotlight


Paige McCoy, of Warwick, R.I,, hosted a night of awareness and fundraiser on October 26 to benefit the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.The event, which was in connection with a senior research project for school, featured raffles and a dinner for more than 75 people and was supported by the generous donations of nearly 30 local businesses. Paige was thrilled to donate $1,100 - a gift that will make a tremendous difference in the lives of individuals with Alzheimer's.  
Paige dedicated her senior research project and fundraiser to her grandmother, Frances Medeiros, who had Alzheimer's disease and passed away last May. 

AFA Teens offers teenagers the opportunity to get involved through AFA Teens chapters formed across the country. Chapters are student-led, activity-based offshoots of AFA that groom tomorrow's leaders and engage students in efforts to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease, volunteer in their community, facilitate educational and social programs and make a difference in a cause important to all of us.
Alzheimer's Foundation of America
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York 10001