Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 24th 2015 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, December 24, 2015
THE BOARD OF INLAND REVENUE
WISHES TO ADVISE THE PUBLIC THAT
ALL ITS OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED AT:-
THURSDAY DECEMBER 24, 2015
THURSDAY DECEMBER 31, 2015
THIS INCLUDES THE OFFICES AT --
• TRINIDAD HOUSE ST. VINCENT STREET -- PORT OF SPAIN;
• VICTORIA COURTS - QUEEN STREET, PORT OF SPAIN;
• SOUTH REGIONAL OFFICE -- CIPERO STREET, S/F'DO;
• EAST REGIONAL OFFICE -- 6 PRINCE STREET, ARIMA;
• TOBAGO REGIONAL OFFICE -- VICTOR E BRUCE, FINANCIAL
COMPLEX, 14-16 WILSON ROAD, SCARBOROUGH, TOBAGO;
• ALL DISTRICT REVENUE OFFICES IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.
NB: The Cashiers' Units at these offices will close at 11:00 A.M.
PAY YOUR TAX EARLY AND AVOID INTEREST
ANY INCONVENIENCE CAUSED IS REGRETTED
TAXPAYER RELATIONS SECTION
"Changing the way we interact with People!"
On the northern Virginia farm where Helen
Downs spent her childhood, Christmas meant a
freshly butchered hog and an epic family meal.
When she had her own kids, Helen brought this
spirit of abundance to their home.
"When I think about Christmas growing up," her
son Terry says, "I remember my mom cooking in
the kitchen for hours." There was turkey and glazed
ham, two kinds of stuffing, buttery yeast rolls flecked
with cinnamon and pies---chocolate, lemon and
cherry. She made it all, and she made sure everybody
got a present. For the Downs family, Helen was the
heart of Christmas.
Then Helen was diagnosed with Alzheimer s and
moved in with her son. As she slowly forgot how to
make her famous yeast rolls and use her microwave,
her daughter-in-law Mary helped her send out greet-
ing cards, buy presents and bake loaves of banana
bread for everyone at Helen s day care centre. She
took on the Christmas dinner, too.
Caring for Helen as her mind deteriorates has never
been easy for Terry and Mary, but the holidays make
things harder. They have to strategise about how to
celebrate without disrupting Helen s routine. They
struggle with how to prepare relatives for Helen s
inevitably worse condition and brace for the anger
and disappointment they ve come to expect when
fewer friends turn up every Christmas.
Some five million Americans have Alzheimer s,
and more than 13 million family members care for
them. "There are families in every town, in every
state across the country that are dealing with the
realities of Alzheimer s disease at this holiday season,"
says Ruth Drew, who runs the national phone helpline
for the Alzheimer s Association.
Caregiving is plenty trying without the emotional
freight holidays carry, Drew says, and the expectations
surrounding a family celebration can make the season
Things have changed in the seven years since Helen
moved in with Terry, 54, and Mary, 53. She s still
charming at age 86, with her southern warmth and
cap of silver curls, but her condition is taking its toll
on everyone. "We re tired," Terry says. "We re just
trying to get through Christmas now." As Helen has
declined, the Downses have had to accept a new
"We can t make everybody s Christmas anymore,"
Mary says. "To try to pretend that the losses aren t
happening doesn t do anybody any good. It doesn t
help your family members understand what s hap-
Being open with family is important, says Drew.
As ever more people are diagnosed with the dis-
ease---the association estimates some 14 million cases
in the USA by 2050---understanding how to navigate
difficult holiday situations will only become more
Emailing or calling relatives ahead of time to brief
them on what to expect and how best to support
the person with Alzheimer s can help, Drew says.
Smaller gatherings can make things easier for care-
givers and those with Alzheimer s. Noisy events and
big groups can be overwhelming, so Drew suggests
preparing the ailing relative by talking about holidays
ahead of time, and looking at photos of family mem-
bers. Providing a quiet room where the person can
rest during the celebration is helpful too, she says.
For Mary and Terry, taking off some of the pressure
has made Christmas more bearable, but they can t
shake the sense of loss that comes with it. "For me
the hard part is that my mother-in-law is still with
us physically, but mentally she s not there," Mary
says. "It s almost like having somebody that s a
stranger at Christmas."
Last year they took what felt like a radical step---
they left. With Helen in good hands, they flew to
Hawaii to spend Christmas at the beach. This year
they ll be at home, but that s all they ve decided.
Maybe they won t celebrate at all.
But Terry will put up a tree in the small apartment he and
Mary built onto their house for Helen. She s sitting at a table,
25 puzzle pieces spread out in front of her, when Mary brings
out a box full of ornaments.
"Helen, Christmas is coming up soon," Mary says. "What
do you want for Christmas?"
Helen looks up from her puzzle. "All I ask is to be in good
spirits and in good health so I can come and show myself off
when we have the party."
Mary raises her eyebrows and glances at Terry. "You want
to have a Christmas party this year?" (NPR)
'When mom has Alzheimer's,
a stranger comes for Christmas'
Helen Downs looks through some of her old recipes with her daughter-
in-law Mary Downs. Helen used to be a big baker, but now Mary does
most of the cooking.
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