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7 Tips to Make Holiday Celebrations Special for a Loved One with Memory Loss

Latest Update as of December 2022


For most of us the best time of the year we all look forward to are the holidays. The season of togetherness, fun, generosity, kindness and a little excitement. In the midst of joyous celebrations, stress often creeps in and dampens the fun. This is especially true for family members and friends with memory loss. There are different degrees and types of dementia and the symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Choosing the right setting can make all the difference, If you're planning to host a loved one for holiday celebrations.

Here’s seven helpful tips for them to make Holiday Celebrations special:

1. Beware of loud noises

The holiday music, happy sounds of children, and the Thanksgiving Day parade all fade into happy background noise for most people. For people with dementia, the combination of all these things can feel like chaos and even strong odors are enough to create stress for your loved one. Try to keep the noises coming from one source at a time, try giving noisy children a room to play outside of the living space while loved ones with dementia are in the area.

2. Keep the group small

The holidays are about family and friends. While most people want to see everything, your loved ones with dementia may be overwhelmed by the task. Offered the alternative of a separate event with just your loved one and family, If you still want to be with everyone. For example, you might consider hosting them for a simple holiday-themed breakfast before the rest of the group arrives for dinner.

3. Offer simple work as something to focus on

This might include peeling potatoes, tossing a salad or washing dishes. For loved ones with dementia, a simple hands-on activity can be grounding and a good distraction. This tip may not work for everyone. Be sure to choose an activity that is safe and has limited steps involved.

4. Enter the event that rested

A rested mind will often be clearer and better able to handle new information. Rest is very important for people with dementia. It is best if the event can follow recent sleep. Be sure to consider traveling for a loved one.

5. Make room for a calm retreat

Prepare a room for your loved one where they can relax and escape the noise of your event. It may be up to you and others to watch for signs of distress in your loved one. If you start to see stress building, allow yourself to calmly remove them from the situation to a more calm and familiar setting.

6. Please reintroduce, if necessary

If necessary, reintroduce the person and continue even among close acquaintances, loved ones with memory loss can lose track of who people are. As a tip, a small family album can be helpful as an on-hand reference. Long-term memories are often more accessible, so when the time comes for reacquainting, it can help to stir up old memories.

7. Trim the menu

Too many options can be overwhelming for loved ones with dementia. When cooking them, prepare a plate with no more than three options. You might also consider leaving some dishes on the kitchen counter for self-service, making way for a simpler tablespace.

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