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Supporting a Family Member with Dementia During the Holiday Season

Elder Care in Connecticut and Dementia

The holiday season is typically a time for celebration. Festive lights, decorations, and home-cooked meals consume the senses. It’s a time for thankfulness and gift-giving. But for some families affected by dementia, the holidays can be filled with challenges.

Elder Care in Connecticut - Supporting a Family Member with Dementia

Some families experience a sense of loss for how the holidays used to be with their loved ones. They must also consider the needs of the person with dementia at holiday gatherings and high-sensory festivities. So, adjusting expectations and modifying some traditions may be necessary. Here are a few ideas to help get the family through the holiday season a little easier.

Be Inclusive

Pick easy activities a loved one with dementia can participate doing. Ask them to help set the table, sing carols, or participate in crafts with the children. Encourage them to reminisce about past holiday gatherings. Just keep it simple and redirect them if they show signs of struggling.

Create a Safe Environment

Celebrate in a comfortable and safe setting free of hazards. Consider keeping decorations simple in familiar rooms and avoid blinking lights to minimize confusion. Use electric candles instead of burning ones. Keep fragile items well out of reach. Playing favorite holiday music for a parent with dementia can also create a calm experience. Just be sure to keep the festive songs at a relaxing and non-distressing volume level.

Give the Gift of Patience

Give a family member with dementia the gift of your best self. Caring for them can be difficult, and it can be hard to remain calm in the middle of a crisis. Offer some undivided attention at the gathering for a bit of time. Avoid things like correcting them and let the conversation roll. Just because a loved one isn’t quite who they used to be doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the holidays with their family. Your patience and understanding will make all the difference.


Do you have a parent or aging loved one living with dementia?  We provide elder care in Connecticut and Rhode Island that can help.

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