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Celebrating the Holidays with Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s or Dementia


The holidays are often considered “the most wonderful time of the year” – a time of festive celebrations and reveling in time-honored traditions with friends and family.  However, the holidays can also take a toll on your time and emotions, especially if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. To ensure the holiday is “merry and bright” for all, keep these tips in mind.

Plan ahead

Along with your shopping and invite lists, take a moment to speak with your loved one’s care provider before holiday festivities. Find out what is the best time of the day for your loved when they are most awake/or alert and plan events or visits during that time. And while many family members may want to join you in bringing joy to your loved one, consider limiting the number of people at each event or visit. Too many people at once can create anxiety for your loved one. Small groups of people may not be as overwhelming.

If you’re planning to bring your loved one home or to a family gathering, speak with their caregiver about your family member’s daily schedule, and stick to it as best you can. Keeping to a routine will help them to feel safe and secure.

Another way to prepare ahead of time, and make your loved one feel more at ease on the day of festivities, is by showing them pictures of family members you’ll be celebrating with and talk about each person. The day of festivities, have friends and family in attendance wear nametags. In addition to being a great activity for the smaller kids to contribute to the celebration, the nametags will help your loved one throughout the day connect names and faces.

Be flexible

The holidays can hold a number of personal, family and religious traditions but keeping up with them and the needs of your loved one may feel like a burden. Decide which holiday activities and traditions are most important, and communicate with your family who can help you keep the traditions alive by taking over certain tasks. You don’t have to do it all. Remember that’s what family is for

In addition to being flexible on how you celebrate this season, be sure to be adaptable with your loved ones needs. Don’t feel you need to entertain or fuss over your loved one throughout the event. Let them enjoy the holidays too. Set up a room where your loved one can retreat to if things become overwhelming or just needs to rest. Sometimes during the holidays we all need a break.

What’s more, you may find that your loved one is ready to leave a holiday gathering sooner than anticipated. To ensure a smooth transition, be in touch with the caregiver and talk to your loved one about who will be there to greet them when you arrive.

Make new memories

While you may relish having a loved one home for the holidays, sometimes a change of environment can create more anxiety for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Consider making a new memory with family by celebrating the holiday at the retirement community where they live.

In addition to making your loved one’s holiday special, you may find other residents without family near who will take pleasure in having your company to share a meal, sing a carol and enjoy good tidings of comfort and joy.

To learn more about our specialized services and supportive programs for our memory care residents and their families, call a MBK Senior Living community near you.


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