Helping Loved Ones with Dementia Enjoy the Holidays

Helping Loved Ones with Dementia Enjoy the Holidays

The holidays are often spent with family, but when a loved one suffers from dementia, there can be extra challenges to face during this special time of the year. Many holiday traditions include tactical and visual experiences that we share together with people we’re close to. That can be difficult, sometimes, for a person suffering from dementia. If that person is a family member you care about, it can be hard for everyone involved.

Patience and a willingness to forgive is central to dealing with dementia. Mistakes will happen when someone has cognitive impairments, and it’s essential to not let negative reactions to these less than perfect events build up as stress. Embrace the moment and remember that perfection is a postcard, not life. Where possible, look for ways to include your family, all of your family, in the events of the holiday. Dementia sufferers sometimes still have some ability to function normally, and allowing them to participate can both help and bring comfort and happiness to you all. Even simply talking to them, or interacting with them in a warm and familiar manner, can be very beneficial.

And if necessary, change the definition you apply to a successful holiday day. You’re living life, not making a movie that will be perfect. The little things will matter, even if they’re a bit more of a challenge than they might otherwise be.

Key Points:

  • 1Be prepared to forgive and forget during the holidays; there’s no need to let stress ruin the holidays.
  • 2Include your loved ones, regardless of what effects they might be suffering from dementia.
  • 3Focus on a flexible definition of a successful holiday; there’s no need to have a perfect holiday season when good enough will suffice.

Help your loved one feel like they are involved no matter where they are in the disease process by:
Asking for their help with easy activities
Encouraging reminiscing
Including them in conversations
In later stages, simply offering a gentle touch or reassuring word

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