Preparing for the Holidays

School holidays can cause mixed feelings for a family affected by dementia.

Families may experience a sense of loss for the way things used to be. For caregivers, the holidays may create added work. You’ll also have to consider the needs of the person living with dementia during holidays.

By adjusting your expectations and modifying some traditions, you may find meaningful ways to spend the holidays.

  1. Creating a safe and calm space.
    To create an appropriate environment during the holidays for the person with dementia.
    Playing familiar or favorite music may be enjoyable. Adjust the volume to be relaxing and not distressing.
  2. Adapting holiday activities. To help the person with dementia enjoy the holidays:
    – Prepare together. Mix batter, decorate cookies, or create a piece of art. Focus on the task rather than the outcome.
    – Host a small gathering. Aim to keep celebrations quiet and relaxed.
    – Avoid disruptions. Plan a gathering at the best time of day for the person with dementia. Keep daily routines in place as much as possible.
    – Provide a quiet place. If you are having guests over, provide a quiet place for the person with dementia to have time alone or to visit with one person at a time.
    – Plan meaningful activities. You might read a favorite holiday story, look at photo albums, watch a favorite holiday movie or sing songs.
    – Keep outings brief. If you’ll be attending a holiday gathering, plan to be brief or be prepared to leave early if necessary. Make sure there is a place to rest or take a break.
  3. Taking care of yourself. Self-care is crucial for caregivers during the holidays.
    To make the time enjoyable:
    – Pick and choose. Focus on the holiday activities that are most important to you. Remember that you can’t do it all.
    – Manage others’ expectations. Set realistic expectations for what you can contribute.
    – Delegate. Let family and friends help.
    – Make time for yourself. Ask a family member or friend to give you a break so that you can enjoy a holiday outing without caregiving responsibilities.