Enjoying the Holidays When Your Loved One Has Dementia

Adjustments to Your Home

Hosting a guest with dementia may require you to do some adjustment to your environment. In combination with some of the challenges of aging, dementia can affect how a person perceives their surroundings, such as depth perception and balance, so area rugs, low furniture, and stairs without handrails can pose a risk. Clutter can be confusing, and harmful items like cleaning products should be stored out of reach.

For more information on adjusting your home, visit the National Institute for Aging’s home safety checklist or this helpful resource from the Alzheimer’s Association.


Keep Them Involved

Just because your loved one has dementia doesn’t mean their desire to connect and enjoy the holidays goes away. Keep them involved with simple dementia-friendly activities.

Simple tasks like tidying up before gatherings, decorating or making easy holiday arts and crafts are a great way to connect with your loved one. They may also enjoy cooking simple recipes, viewing Christmas lights together or listening to their favorite holiday music. 


Use Name Tags

If your loved one has difficulty with name recollection, or if you’ll be having some new faces at this year’s gathering, having name tags can be helpful. Write in bold, clear letters and introduce family members as they arrive. You might even consider keeping a family photo album on hand to help them remember and reminisce.


Prepare Your Guests

Letting your relatives and friends know about your loved one’s dementia diagnosis is important, especially if their dementia has progressed since their last visit. A personal phone call or family letter explaining your loved one’s situation can help set family members’ expectations.

Be honest about your loved one’s abilities, and prepare family members for whom these changes may be painful. Let them know how they can connect — the activities your loved one enjoys or topics they like to talk about.


Make a Gift List

Complicated activities and tasks can frustrate or confuse someone living with dementia which may affect gift selections. Give your family members a list of suggested gifts for your loved one that are personal and something they might enjoy. Consider such websites as https://best-alzheimers-products.com/ or https://www.alzstore.com/ or  https://joyforall.com/ for some wonderfully curated products that have been tested and designed for persons living with dementia.  


Have Patience

Between cleaning, shopping, and family dynamics, the holidays can be stressful. Add in care partnering with a loved one with dementia, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Try to be patient with your loved one — and yourself. As a care partner or family member, it’s normal to feel sad, tired or frustrated. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that it isn’t personal. Your memory-impaired loved one has good and bad days that they can’t control.


Don’t Do It Alone

If you’re a care partner for someone with dementia you might feel obligated to do it all yourself. But everyone needs a break sometimes. As you prep for the holidays, with shopping, cooking, decorating or cleaning, don’t feel guilty about asking for help with caring for your loved one. Ask a trusted friend or family member to spend a few hours with them, or look into local options for adult care or respite care. 


Bond with Your Loved One

The holiday season may come with stressors, and when your loved one has dementia, your family traditions may change. But at the end of the day, the holidays are about spending cherished time with your friends and family. Follow these tips, and with a little extra patience and care, you can turn the holidays into an opportunity to bond with your loved one.    

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