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Ingleside at Rock Creek Blog

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2019

Observing the Holidays When Your Loved One has Dementia

It would be a rare family who hasn’t experienced tension while preparing for the holidays. But for those living or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the season can bring on additional stress. Yet that doesn’t mean there’s no joy to be found. With some careful planning and consideration, this time of year can still be meaningful for your loved one, family and friends.

As the holidays approach, take some time to think about what celebrating might look like in your family this year. There may be traditions that will need to be scaled back, but happiness can still be experienced. These two suggestions may help jumpstart your plans:

Don’t Hold Yourself to an Impossible Standard

Even without the challenges inherent in living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the holidays can cause many to hold themselves to unreachable standards. The sooner you acknowledge that perfection is impossible, the quicker you can be more realistic in what can be accomplished. Holiday anxiety and the additional work can push anyone to the limit. Remember, your stress will also be felt by your loved one. It’s more important to be flexible and decide to enjoy what you can and let the rest go.

Consider Your Loved One’s Comfort and Coping Abilities

The size and extent of the celebration will depend on how far your loved one has progressed in the disease and the individual’s ability to cope with such a change in the daily routine. Ask yourself the impact and comfort level that will most likely result from the different foods, activities, having guests in the house and the overall excitement or stimulation of the event. 


Tips for Making the Holidays Merry

When getting ready for the holidays, you’ll want to consider where the majority of activities will take place. The following points may help you minimize the anxiety whether the gathering occurs in your home or a memory support community.

Celebrating at home

Celebrating at a memory support community.

The above suggestions are also helpful if your loved one lives in an assisted living or memory care community. You’ll still want to update out of town family or friends who will be visiting and let them know what gifts may be appropriate. It’s always a good idea to prepare ahead of time for quiet activities if the distractions become too much. But there will also be additional opportunities you may find enjoyable to share.

  • Join in with your loved one at any planned holiday celebrations at the community
  • Bring in favorite foods or treats to share
  • Brighten their room with much-loved decorations  
  • Sing or listen to favorite carols or music together
  • Share childhood or past holiday memories or stories

Taking Care of Yourself

Those that care for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia are under a level of stress that might not be understood by others. During the added tension and stress of the holidays, it can also be common to lose sight of all you do in the midst of the season. Reach out to others, recognize the limitations, appreciate the opportunities - but also be kind to yourself.

Ingleside’s Memory Support Assisted Living

We understand the importance, joy and stress of the holidays and the impact that it can have, not only on those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia but the families as well. At Ingleside, we can help you and your loved one create a meaningful celebration.

Please call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.


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