Living with dementia

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Celebrating the holidays at home

If you're caring for someone at home

  • Plan ahead; have a family discussion and set realistic expectations. It may be a good time to start a new family tradition.
  • Organize a series of small events instead of a day-long celebration. This will be less distressing to a family member who is in the later stages of dementia.
  • Plan festivities around a time and day that is best for the person with dementia.
  • Host family gatherings in a familiar place to avoid confusion.
  • Limit family gatherings to small groups.
  • Check your home for anything that might be dangerous. See safety tips.
  • Avoid decorations that look like candy, fruit or other food items.
  • Decorate your home gradually so the changes are less jarring for the person with dementia.
  • Ask the person with dementia to help with holiday preparations; give them safe, manageable tasks like wrapping gifts. Tell them their help is valuable.
  • Organize meaningful activities such as looking at old family photographs or singing favourite songs.
  • Make a list of doctors and pharmacies that are open during the holidays in case of emergencies; be sure you know where the nearest emergency department is.
  • If the person is taking medication, make sure they have enough to get through the holidays.
  • Have a quiet area where the person can retreat if gatherings become too hectic. A family member or friend should keep them company so they won’t feel isolated or excluded.
  • Buy gifts that have meaning; reactions are hard to predict so don’t be surprised if the person’s reaction is less than enthusiastic.
  • Don’t overload their plate with rich food; overindulging can agitate the person with the disease. Consider making their favorite meal.

Last Updated: 04/11/14
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