Tips on Including Those with Dementia in Holiday Celebrations

The holidays are here, and celebrations are in full swing. While many families are packing, cooking, decorating or gift shopping, some are also preparing their loved one with dementia for the holiday celebrations ahead. In fact, some caregivers and families may be planning how to keep their loved one included despite all the hustle and bustle.

If your loved one is among the 5.8 million people in the United States living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, we’re here to help make your season – and theirs – less stressful and more joyous for you both. Check out our tips on how to celebrate the holidays successfully and safely with those with memory loss.

Managing the Holidays as a Dementia Caregiver

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for people with dementia, the holiday hustle can feel overwhelming. This makes it important to keep some of these points in mind.

Decrease safety hazards.

Not only can a change in routine and scenery make a person with dementia feel unsafe, confused, or agitated, but it could also increase the likelihood of wandering. Consider additional ways to increase safety, like purchasing a wearable GPS device or alarms for doors and windows.

Adapt holiday gatherings.

If hosting, plan to celebrate during the time of day your loved one is at their best. It can also help to have only a couple of family members and friends over at a time. If you plan on traveling, leave plenty of time to rest and relax. If needed, you can also decline holiday invitations you feel might be too much for yourself or a loved one to handle.

Prepare your loved one a space to retreat to.

Create a safe area full of their favorite comfort items. They can go there when they need a break or want to rest. Watch for clues that your loved one may be getting overwhelmed during holiday gatherings, and pull them away for some peace and quiet – and perhaps a calming activity.

Ways To Include a Loved One with Memory Loss

If you know a senior living with memory loss, help them feel included in the festivities by:

  • Asking them to help prepare food or set the table.
  • Reading holiday stories together.
  • Singing well-known holiday songs.
  • Going through old photo albums or making new ones.
  • Watching a holiday movie matinee together.
  • Baking favorite recipes together.
  • Going for a drive to look at the lights.
  • Sharing your favorite holiday memories.
  • Making holiday cards or ornaments.
  • Decorating a gingerbread house.
  • Making phone calls to friends and family members they talk about frequently.
  • Giving personalized gifts.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Manage expectations.

Your holiday can still be joyful, even if it looks a little different this year. Create new traditions that are simple enough for your loved one to enjoy. Don’t take on more than you can handle and be realistic about what you can manage. It’s OK to say no to things as needed.

Prepare and educate visitors.

Updating visitors can help them know what to expect and changes they may notice in your loved one. You can use this as an opportunity to share ideas on activities they can still do together successfully and how to keep your loved one involved in festivities.

Maintain your routine.

Keeping a normal routine can help decrease negative behaviors in your loved one. While holidays will inevitably cause a disruption, do your best to keep major changes in routine to a minimum.

Ask for help.

Whether your family picks up some groceries, gets your loved one’s prescriptions, helps you wrap presents, or does an activity with your loved one, this can allow you to focus on things you need to do.

Take care of you.

As you care for your loved one, remember to focus on yourself, too. Take time to rest, give yourself grace, accept offers of help, and shift your mindset to enjoy this season.

Bridges® by EPOCH: Bringing Joy to Families and Those with Memory Loss

For more tips or information on how to make your holiday celebrations a success, contact our team. We’d be happy to support you and your loved one in having a joyous holiday season.

Reach out to the community nearest you today.

Enhancing Quality of Life

Bridges® by EPOCH memory care communities have been developed from the ground up to anticipate, meet and exceed the needs of our residents and their families. Our team of remarkable people, the exceptional care and services we offer, and the purposeful design of our buildings all combine to create the most rewarding, secure and nurturing lifestyle possible for our residents.

Bridges® by EPOCH communities are located in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in the following towns: Norwalk, CT; Stamford, CT; Trumbull, CT; Andover, MA; Hingham, MA; Lexington, MA; Mashpee, MA; Pembroke, MA; Sudbury, MA; Westford, MA; Westwood, MA; and Nashua, NH.