Help For Enjoying Christmas With Dementia | Good Care Group

How to support someone with dementia this Christmas

Make the festive season inclusive for the whole family by taking simple steps to ensure loved ones with dementia enjoy Christmas too.

Christmas is a lonely time for many older people. And, with a condition like dementia, older people can inadvertently become even more isolated. Dementia contributes to confusion, memory loss and behavioural changes – all of which can make normal interaction more challenging.

How can I ensure loved ones with dementia enjoy Christmas?

Your loved one’s unique needs and preferences will form a major part of the Christmas planning process. However, these are some of the more general steps to think about:

1. Involve them in simple activities

Your loved one might well be used to contributing to, or even hosting, events themselves. If they’re no longer involved, they may start to feel like a burden.

Help your loved one feel included this Christmas by setting them a small task. You could ask them to help prepare fruit for dessert, or keep the kids occupied with stories, songs or games.

2. Go back to classic traditions

Dementia is such that, while your loved one might not remember recent events, they’re much more likely to remember the Christmases of their past.

Revisiting classic traditions could help them get more involved. You could even try some reminiscence therapy. Show them an object (e.g. a photo) or play a song from their past, then ask them to tell you about their memories of it.

3. Help the whole family prepare

Make sure close friends and relatives understand your loved one’s condition and how best to interact with them so they can help you share the responsibility over Christmas.

Provide a few activities that your loved one and attendees from all age groups can get involved with. Charades and simple word games are good ideas to get you started.

4. Be forgiving and don’t overreact

Hosting a Christmas event can be stressful and wayward plans often lead to disappointment.

The reality is, with dementia, your loved one’s needs and behaviours might be hard to predict. Try to let go of any negative feelings and be as forgiving as possible. Spending quality time together over Christmas – whether it goes exactly to plan or not – should be your main priority.

5. Avoid over stimulation

People with dementia are more likely to become over-stimulated, especially with the social requirements and hectic schedule of a Christmas event.

Over-stimulation could cause your loved one to become confused or agitated. Set aside a quiet space away from the main group. Let your loved one know they can relax there if they feel things are getting too much.

Amongst your busy festive preparations, give a little thought to how you can help loved ones with dementia enjoy Christmas. The result could have a profoundly positive effect on the whole family and create lasting, cherished memories.

Find out more about how live-in care can help ensure older people with dementia stay as active and engaged as possible by speaking with the friendly team at The Good Care Group.

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Content authored by Dr Jane Pritchard 28 November 2022

Dr Jane Pritchard is a consultant Admiral Nurse who specialises in the care and support of those living with dementia. She is a registered nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council specialising in mental health. She has over 20 years' experience working in care and has authored several publications on dementia care.

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