Tips for Holiday Celebrations With Loved Ones Living with Dementia

For many people, the holiday season is a joyful time when loved ones gather to celebrate together. It can be a time of sharing, reconnecting, and often larger groups—and sometimes commotion. However, for families affected by dementia, this time of year can be particularly challenging. It’s essential to adapt your holiday celebrations so they’re enjoyable and comfortable for all. Below, we offer you a few tips to create a festive and inclusive atmosphere for everyone during the holidays.

Create a Festive yet Calm Space

Decorating your home for the holidays is a cherished tradition for most, but for those living with dementia, decorations can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing. Here are a few ideas for creating a calm and comfortable environment.

  • Get Your Loved One Involved: Include your family member with dementia in the decorating process as it might bring back fond memories. Keep decorations simple and avoid overwhelming displays.
  • Safety First: Be mindful of potential safety hazards. Avoid burning candles and fragile decorations that can easily be reached. 
  • Soothing Sounds: Play familiar holiday music at a relaxing volume to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Ask your loved ones which songs they enjoy most. 

Adapt Your Holiday Activities

To ensure an enjoyable holiday season, consider adapting your usual holiday activities to meet your loved one’s needs. 

  • Prepare Together: Engage in activities like decorating cookies, opening holiday cards, or creating simple decorations. Focus on the process and be mindful of every moment. 
  • Small Gatherings: Host intimate gatherings to maintain a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Timing Matters: Plan holiday events at the best time of day for your loved one as keeping their daily routines intact is very helpful. 
  • Quiet Spaces: If hosting guests, provide a quiet area for your loved one to retreat to when needed. Consider one-on-one visits instead of larger groups.
  • Meaningful Activities: Engage in meaningful activities like reading a favorite holiday story, reminiscing over photo albums, or watching their favorite holiday movies.
  • Short Outings: Keep outings brief, whether attending a gathering or going shopping. Plan for rest breaks if necessary.

Adjusting Travel Plans

If traveling to visit loved ones during the holidays, you can still do so with some preparation and realistic expectations.

  • Maintain Routine: Keep your loved one’s daily routine in mind when making travel plans.
  • Direct Routes: Plan for the most direct travel route, minimizing layovers if possible, and keeping travel to four hours or less.
  • Identification: Ensure your loved one wears an identification bracelet with contact information in case of separation.
  • Time Buffer: Allow extra time during your travels to accommodate unexpected situations and minimize stress.

Closing Thoughts

The holiday season can be a joyous time for everyone, including your family member with dementia, especially if you plan ahead. Simplify your celebrations and set boundaries to minimize stress so you can create a pleasant holiday experience for all. 

Sopris Lodge’s Memory Care Program

At Sopris Lodge at Carbondale Senior Living, we understand the unique challenges that dementia can present, especially during the holiday season. Our Day Retreat at the Lodge and Memory Care Community are designed to provide specialized care and support to residents with memory impairments. With a team of dedicated professionals, we create a safe and nurturing environment that fosters well-being and encourages engagement. Our goal is for families and residents to enjoy the holiday season with peace of mind.

If you have questions or need assistance in providing the best possible holiday experience for your loved one, feel free to contact the team at Sopris Lodge or call 970-340-4460. We’re here to help you make this season memorable and full of love and understanding.

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