The holidays are here, and it’s time to celebrate! As family and friends pour into the house to share in the cheerful spirit, it can be a lot of fun, but it can also become a bit overwhelming for seniors with dementia. Loud noises, big crowds, excited children – all of these can be a bit much for aging loved ones with dementia. However, there are some ways you can adjust your holiday gatherings to make sure that seniors with dementia enjoy the season as much as everyone else. 

Here are some tips that may help seniors with dementia enjoy the holidays with family and friends without becoming overwhelmed: 

  1. Adapt holiday activities to fit the aging adult’s needs – As dementia progresses, you don’t need to completely change your holiday traditions. You just have to tweak them a bit! For example, they may not be able to handle making your favorite dessert on their own this year. Try to share some quality time with an aging loved one by helping them prepare the dish so they don’t get frustrated.
  2. Establish a calm space for the aging adult to go during gatherings – Seeing family and friends for the holidays can be a great time! However, with everyone laughing and telling old stories or maybe even blasting their favorite holiday tunes, it can become stressful for seniors with dementia. Make sure you establish a room away from the crowd where the aging adult can go if the crowd becomes a bit too much for them. 
  3. Prepare your holiday visitors – Speaking of family and friends, it’s not just seniors with dementia who you may have to prepare for holiday gatherings. Your guests may need a briefing as well. It can be helpful to update visitors on an aging loved one’s condition so that they aren’t caught off guard and so that they can avoid upsetting the senior with dementia. For example, if a senior with dementia is particularly sensitive to loud noises, it could be helpful to remind your guests before they come in to try to keep their voices down during dinner.
  4. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well! – Sometimes, the most important part about spending the holidays around senior loved ones with dementia is making sure that you are taking proper care of yourself! Between hosting guests and caring for aging loved ones, it can be easy for you to get overwhelmed during the holidays. Make sure you take time for yourself so that you can put your best foot forward this holiday season!

If you have a loved one with dementia in a care facility, there are a few other tips you might want to consider if you will be visiting during the holidays. It can often seem impersonal to celebrate the holidays in a care facility, but aging loved ones may prefer to celebrate with family and friends in the familiarity of their facility.  Make sure you ask their opinion before bringing them home for the holiday festivities. And as family and friends start to visit, encourage them to come in shifts or on different days. Having too many people show up at once can become overwhelming or stressful for seniors with dementia, so seeing a few people throughout the week may be better than having everyone visit at once.

If you’re worried about how to best spend the holidays with a senior with dementia, don’t panic! Home Care Assistance is here to help. We provide elder care in Raleigh, NC and the nearby areas, and our expert caregivers can help you engage seniors with dementia in holiday activities in a way that is enjoyable and comfortable for them. If you’d like to hear more about how we can help, contact us online or at 919-436-1871.