14 Simple Caregiver Tips for a Dementia-Friendly Holiday Celebration

Caregiver Tips for a Dementia-Friendly Holiday Celebration

With the holiday season right around the corner, we want you to know that families affected by dementia can adapt holiday gatherings to make them safe and dementia-friendly during this festive time.

Longing for yesterday can be a major emotion for those with a family member afflicted with a memory disorder.
Instead of being immersed in a celebratory period,  families of dementia patients may experience a sense of loss and a longing for yesterday and the way things used to be.

But patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia could enjoy and want to be included in holiday festivities. This can be done by adjusting your expectations and by modifying some traditions.

I’ve put together a list of caregiver tips for a dementia-friendly holiday celebration to help prepare for an exhilarating holiday for you and your family member with dementia.

Portrait of mother and daughter hugging on Christmas time at home

Tips for a Dementia-Friendly Holiday

Dementia-Friendly Holiday Decorations: 

  1. Begin with sharing pictures with your memory-afflicted loved ones to help in reminding them of who everyone is.
  2. Tone it down and keep it safe. Don’t use any blinking lights that can cause confusion. Avoid all decorations that require you to rearrange a familiar setting. This, too, could create confusion. 
  3. Substitute electric candles for all burning candles. Avoid any decorations that could be mistaken for edible treats, such as artificial fruit or candy canes. Secure the tree to a wall.
  4. Play music that has been a family favorite. It could bring back wonderful memories. Keep the volume relaxing. Anything else could be distressing.

Dementia-Friendly Holiday Activities:

  1. You and your loved one could bake holiday cookies together ahead of time. Don’t have high expectations based on memories. Keep your expectations low and revel in the fact that you have a finished product.
  2. Make simple decorations or open holiday cards together. Remember to focus on the activity rather than the outcome.
  3. Read a favorite holiday story, or watch a favorite holiday movie together.
  4. Sing holiday songs together.
African American Family Taking Selfie at Christmas High angle portrait of happy African-American family taking selfie photo while enjoying Christmas at home together Christmas decorations for old people stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Prep Your Guests:

  1. Please remember to prepare your guests and share with them anything that you think will be helpful for their visit.
  2. Keep it small. Too many visitors can be overwhelming to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  3. Provide a quiet place for the dementia patient to have time alone.
  4. Give your guests some communication tips ahead of time.
    The Alzheimer’s Foundation suggests:
  • Use the person’s name frequently.
  • Speak slowly but in a relaxed manner.
  • Be patient.
  • Don’t ask, Don’t you remember?!
  1. Keep a routine. When dementia patients are not following their regular routine, it can be jarring and confusing.

The Caregiver

Finally, I want to put the focus on you. Self-care is vital for caregivers during the holidays.
Remember, you are one person, and you cannot do it all.
Delegate jobs of cleaning, addressing cards, and shopping for gifts to other family members. Don’t be shy about asking other family members to give you a break and take over for a while.
And certainly, don’t be shy about calling Kabb Law with questions at 216-991-5222.
Our Social worker and I are available to help you plan a perfect holiday with your dementia patient.

Happy Holidays,

Rachel Kabb Effron