Embrace the possibilities of connecting with senior family members with dementia this holiday season. Be sensitive to their needs and patient with them. Remember to include them, comfort them, and even involve them in story telling.

Remember that Making them Feel Comfortable and Loved is Key

Planning is the key to enjoying a successful season when a loved one has Alzheimer’s. Here are a few tips to help you plan this year.

Planning Family Gatherings

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • A Familiar Location is Comforting: Remaining in a familiar environment provides more independence and less stress on those with dementia. Have their bedroom or another quiet space prepared for them to retreat to if the party gets to be too much. Play soft music and have some of their favorite magazines ready for them to engage in.
  • Time of Day is Important: Host your Holiday Celebrations at the time of day that is best for your loved one. For some adults with Alzheimer’s, the early evening hours can be tough. Those who suffer from “sundowning” might be at their worst during what is traditionally considered the cocktail hour. It might be better to plan a brunch or lunch instead.
  • Involve your Loved one: In years past, your senior loved one likely played a key role in hosting holiday gatherings. So, try to involve them in any way you can this year. Some tasks a senior with dementia might be able to help with are washing vegetables, setting the table, mixing up cookie dough, and filling candy dishes.

Holiday Gifts for an Adult with Dementia

If you are looking for gift ideas for a loved one with dementia, we have a few suggestions:

  • Practical Gifts: While they might not seem very exciting, practical holiday gifts should also be considered. A jogging suit that is easy to pull on and off, comfortable pajamas, and a pair of slippers with non-skid soles are all good gifts for an adult with dementia.
  • Music Gift Ideas: Headphones, CDs with nature sounds or SIMPL Music Player (found on Amazon) that comes pre-loaded with up to 40 big band hits and additional songs can be easily downloaded are nice gifts. Research suggests that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavior benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Sensory Stimulation: Scented lotion made with organic ingredients makes a great gift. Scents that can be especially soothing include lavender, sage, rosemary, and peppermint.

Holidays Can Be a Wonderful Time For Them to Reminisce About Childhood Memories

  • Many seniors take comfort in remembering pleasant holiday memories. Provide them with the opportunity to share their favorite memory from when they were young and what traditions they may have had during the holidays with their families and loved ones.
  • Get out the old photo albums and ask them to tell the stories of what is going on during the time the photos were taken. Recalling memories from photos can be a wonderful way to jog their memories and you can learn a lot about them from simply listening to the stories they have to share.
  • Remember that the time you spend with senior loved ones is precious. Smile. Laugh. Hug and hold hands with them. Simply let them know how much they mean to you. You will never regret the time you express love to them and make them feel valued and loved.

Guide to Finding the Right Memory Care Community for Your Loved One

Looking for the right memory care community can be challenging. You want to make sure you find the best place for your loved one, while dealing with a range of emotions. The entire family feels the impact when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or a related form of dementia.