Dementia During the Holidays

Posted by Whitney Van Wagenen on Dec 23, 2016

In Assisted Living

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It’s hard to imagine Christmas without your loved ones; it’s the time of the year that brings everyone together. There’s no place like home for the holidays and there is no one you’d rather spend it with than your family.  But what do you do if one of your close family members that you have spent so many holidays with has dementia or Alzheimer’s and can’t remember anyone? It may be very difficult to accept that your loved one, and the way you celebrate the holidays with them, will never be the same. Despite the changes experienced, the holidays can still be an enjoyable and memorable time for everyone.  Here are some ways to keep your family traditions alive while considering the needs of someone suffering with dementia.  


Communicate what you have planned with your loved one.

Make sure to let them know what you have going on so that they are not completely in the dark.  Give them options, maybe a big party is too hectic and overwhelming for them and they would rather attend a smaller family gathering.  Allow them to decide what they would like to do and what they would rather skip.  


Try to prepare for their needs

Have a quiet place available for them to relax in case they feel anxious in their surroundings. Too many people and background conversations can cause agitation so it might be best to have them in a room that is a little separated. Have time set aside to take breaks from socializing and activities to help reduce their anxiety. Also prepare by making sure the environment is safe and easily accessible for your loved one. Try to make space for walkers or wheelchairs and avoid situations that could be harmful.  Make sure to never leave them alone and provide them with adequate company so they feel comfortable wherever they are.  

Keep them Involved

When planning activities, try to do things that will include everyone.  Think of things that your loved one can easily participate in that are simple and familiar.  Some examples include singing and listening to christmas music, frosting and decorating cookies, telling stories, and making cards. Be sure to ask them if they want to participate in everything you have planned and don’t be discouraged if they would rather observe at times.  

Most importantly remember that your loved one still appreciates love and affection and even though they may not remember you, they can still feel your love.  Enjoy the time you get to spend with your family this holiday season and have a Merry Christmas!