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Don’t Let Dementia Get in the Way of Your Holiday Celebrations

Guest Blogger: Courtney PriceVarietas DirectorTraditions of Lebanon

As we approach the holiday season, planning for your holiday events is important. We know you want to ensure everyone feels included, especially our loved ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

When planning your holiday celebrations, inform family members that your loved one may look different from the last time they saw them, and they may not recognize them any longer. It is important to remind the family not to ask if they remember who they are. Just be friendly and smile. Your smile will go a long way! 

Here are a few tips to help with your holiday planning:

1. Rather than planning a large get-together, try to plan events in smaller, casual groups so your loved one isn’t overstimulated and becomes overwhelmed and potentially angry.

2. If your loved one gets more confused or agitated (sundowners) in the evenings, try to plan the event earlier in the day. Consider what will be the most comfortable and enjoyable for the person living with dementia, while keeping safety in mind.

3. Maintain the person’s normal routine as much as possible so that holiday preparations don’t become disruptive or confusing. Focus on the things that bring happiness and let go of activities that seem overwhelming or stressful. Taking on too many tasks can wear both of you down.

4. Build on traditions and memories and experiment with new traditions that might be less stressful or a better fit with your caregiving responsibilities, such as watching seasonal movies.

5. When it comes to designing the holiday meal, stick with something you know they love and will recognize. Try to limit their food options to 2-3 choices so they don’t become overwhelmed.

6. If friends or family members ask what they would like for a gift, you may want to get something like easy-to-remove clothing, favorite music, audiobooks, photo albums, and maybe even their favorite treats.

Remember, your loved one is just happy to spend quality time with you. They don’t need big and elaborate; they need small and intimate.