The holidays are a time to celebrate and gather with family and friends, but you may wonder how to proceed if you now are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
With some good planning, you can make the holidays enjoyable both for your loved one with dementia and others who will see that person this season.
Here are a few tips for celebrating the holidays with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
7 Tips for Dementia- and Alzheimer’s-Friendly Celebrations
- Don’t overdo the decorations. Less is more, especially when it comes to flashing lights that may startle a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Watch out for any safety hazards that may come with decorations, such as burning candles (use LED ones instead) or wires on the ground that connect to lights (move them out of the way to avoid falls).
- Let your loved one with dementia/Alzheimer’s know what to expect in advance. This could include details on who will be at your holiday celebration and what you’ll be doing while there. You also may want to update your loved one with dementia/Alzheimer’s on who certain family members are, using photos you can show them when possible.
- Reserve a quiet room in your home. This quiet room gives your loved one a place to escape from too much noise and merriment that can be part of holiday celebrations.
- Update other family members in advance of how your loved one with dementia/Alzheimer’s is doing. They’ll want to know what to expect. This would be a good time to share any changes in appearance and some tips to communicate better with your loved one, such as letting that person repeat information without interrupting them. If needed, you can suggest that family members re-introduce themselves if the loved one will not remember them.
- Find activities that are suitable for one-on-one time. Outside of any larger family celebration, choose some easy, fun activities that you and your loved one can do together, such as mixing batter for cookies, listening to nostalgic Christmas music, singing holiday songs, and going through old holiday pictures.
- Try to maintain your loved one’s routine as much as possible before or after any holiday events. We may take it for granted, but a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s thrives on that routine.
- Remember that a little can go a long way when it comes to special activities. Your loved one probably does not need drawn-out time at celebrations or even doing holiday activities. A short amount of time before they become tired or upset could be just enough to help them celebrate the holidays.
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