You are probably experiencing mixed feelings about the Thanksgiving holidays, anxious about all the preparations, family visits and everything that's involved surrounding the holiday.

Keeping traditions and making the holiday special can be reassuring to the affected person, giving him or her a link to a familiar past and opportunities to reminisce with family members and friends.

It does take some effort to create a balance during this time for you as well as your mother. There are boundaries and limitations. Your situation is different from family and friends, and you do not need to measure up to anyone's expectations.

For your mother, try to involve her in some simple food preparations as much as possible. This will make her feel useful, and it can promote conversations and reminiscences about Thanksgiving and provide great enjoyment for her. Employ her assistance with the holiday decorations, for instance, or folding napkins and setting the dinner table.

Keep the atmosphere of the Thanksgiving dinner warm and supportive. A large family gathering may confuse or frustrate her so you may want to stagger visits by family members and friends so she won't get overwhelmed. Loud conversations, lighting that is too bright or too dark and indulging in too much food may make her very anxious, so prepare a quiet room for her to retreat so she can be alone or accept one or two visitors at a time.

If it has been a while since family members have seen your mom and witnessed her condition, then it is a good idea to prepare them beforehand. If she is having certain behaviors, such as experiencing hallucinations, eating with fingers or wandering excessively, let them know. The most important thing to convey to family members prior to their visit is that while your mother may not remember them or their names, the day is about creating meaningful moments for her, which is all that matters.

For your mother, in the flurry of activities during holiday season, try to keep a structured normal routine for her as much as possible. A structured routine will cause less confusion and anxiety in the long run.

Remember to take care of yourself. Try to do some activities you enjoy, and if you are invited elsewhere for holiday fun, enlist family or friends to sit with your mother while you benefit from the respite. Finding time for adequate rest and refraining from overdoing can ease stress and make this special holiday a treasured experience for you both.

Questions about Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, director of services at Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area at or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.