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Alzheimer's and Dementia

5 Tips for Celebrating the Holidays With a Loved One Who Has Dementia

The holidays are here, packed full to bursting with meals to prepare, celebrations to plan and end-of-year deadlines to meet. This is a joyful but also stressful time of year, especially for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and the family members who care for them

However, by managing your family’s expectations around the holidays this year and modifying a few of your traditions, this time of year can be just as merry and bright.

Involve Your Loved One

Involve your loved one as much as possible in the festivities. Easy, repetitive tasks like decorating cookies, making papercraft chains or working on a puzzle can bring the whole family together without adding undue stress or frustration for your loved one. As your loved one’s condition progresses, this may simply mean bringing them into the kitchen with you to observe the cooking, or inviting grandchildren to sit and watch a favorite holiday film with them in the living room.  

Plan a Smaller Celebration

Large gatherings may feel overwhelming for your loved one, so be sure to minimize visitor traffic during the season. One way to achieve this is to hold several smaller gatherings over a few weeks instead of one large gathering. Before visitors arrive, be sure to update them about your loved one’s condition and manage their expectations about the level of interaction they may be able to have. If your loved one is unable to travel and family lives far away, schedule a few Zoom calls to keep connections strong even when you can’t be in the same room.  

Create the Right Atmosphere

If possible, try to keep celebrations in a familiar setting and avoid traveling to holiday resorts or other environments that could confuse your loved one. Keep loud music to a minimum, and avoid lighting that is too bright or too dark, both of which could be triggering. Whether you are traveling to another family member’s home or holding a gathering in your home, ensure there is a quiet room where your loved one can retreat for a little time to themselves if they become overwhelmed.

Adapt Holiday Activities

Some holiday traditions, like ice skating or destination holiday gatherings, may no longer be possible this year. However, there are still plenty of activities your loved one can participate in with the whole family, depending on their abilities and comfort level. While your loved one may need to go to bed early or take frequent breaks, your family can still enjoy time together watching holiday films, enjoying meals and exchanging gifts. 

Take Time to Enjoy the Experience

Finally, be sure to take some time to yourself this holiday season to enjoy the time with your friends and family. Above all, remain positive and take breaks when you need them. If there is a beloved holiday activity that you want to participate in that is no longer possible for your loved one, reach out for help to a friend or family member who can take over caregiving responsibilities while you enjoy yourself. We only get so many holiday seasons in our lives, and it’s important to make each one count.  

Explore Memory Care at Newcastle Place

As your loved one’s needs change, you may begin to explore memory care options at a senior living community like Newcastle Place. Here, our experienced and compassionate team members create personal wellness plans for your loved one, offering enriching and stimulating activities in a safe and comfortable environment. We all also have numerous services and amenities here to cater to their every need.   

Contact us today to learn more about our memory care community, or to schedule a tour.

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