Alzheimer’s /Dementia: Tips for the Holidays

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Story Updated: Nov 23, 2010

The Holiday Season is upon us with gift giving, family gatherings, and Holiday parties. It continues to gain momentum till the end of the year. While the Holiday season is meant to create love and cheer, even those who don’t have Dementia will admit to increased Holiday stress. For those who have Dementia/Alzheimer’s the season can bring with it altered behaviors and increased confusion.

Tips for the Holidays


  • The Holidays can be just as enjoyable with simplification. Bake 2 dozen cookies instead of 10 dozen. Decorate with fewer decorations and avoid using decorations with blinking lights for they add to confusion and disorientation. Keep safety in mind and avoid using artificial fruits and candies that could easily be mistaken for edible food.

  • A person with Dementia finds routine to be comforting and less confusing, so maintain their routine and plan activities at your loved ones best time of day.
  • Everyone enjoys participating in holiday activities even someone with dementia. Involve them with simple tasks such as measuring flour or stirring the batter during baking preparation, opening holiday cards, wrapping presents, etc. Remember the process is the most important rather than the end result.
  • Plan holiday gatherings in a home that is familiar to the person with Dementia but not in their own home. This reduces the caregiver’s stress and allows them the ability to leave the gathering at any time. Large gatherings with spirited conversation and loud music can add to confusion for someone with Dementia. Planning small family gatherings with soft music will be less disruptive for a person with Dementia. If you do plan on entertaining in your home, minimize anxiety for those with dementia by arranging for family members to come over in small groups and on different days. A person with Dementia is more likely to welcome small groups but be overwhelmed with a group that is large.
  • Preplan the menu for the holiday gathering and delegate each dish to individuals who will be attending. This will eliminate additional noise in the kitchen and allow the party to stay on schedule.
  • When family members and friends offer to assist you with cleaning or other tasks, take them up on it.

The wonderful thing about holiday stress and pressure is that is predictable. We know when holiday stress will begin and when it will end. Therefore we can reduce holiday stress for ourselves and our loved one with Dementia by just following these simple tips for the holidays.

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