Tips for holiday family gatherings with those experiencing dementia symptoms


The holidays are a time for family unity. However, for families with members affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s, these occasions can pose unique challenges. Symptoms might manifest as confusion or diminished enthusiasm, which can affect their overall holiday experience. This can be distressing for family, but efforts can be made to accommodate their unique needs.

If your loved one experiences memory issues, it’s still entirely feasible to host a heartwarming holiday celebration that resonates with everyone. To ensure everyone enjoys the festive season, here are some tips.

Adjust Event Timing

A strict schedule is useful, but ensuring everyone’s attendance is paramount. Dinner might be challenging for those with dementia due to symptoms like sundowning, which can lead to evening agitation. An earlier dinner or a brunch can be beneficial. The joy of seeing everyone at the meal outweighs the shift in timing.

So maybe try moving dinner to 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

Inform Family Early

Dementia can progress rapidly. Keeping family updated about your loved one’s health status ensures no surprises arise. With everyone informed, they can collaboratively create a supportive, joyful environment.

Consider a family group chat where updates about your loved one’s condition are shared to ensure everyone is prepared and understanding during gatherings.

Maintain Their Routine

Those with dementia symptoms often find solace in routines. Incorporating aspects of their daily life, such as preferred meals or activities, can make holidays smoother and more enjoyable.

Your loved one might find comfort in their morning crossword puzzle, so incorporating that into the holiday morning could make them feel at home.

Encourage Involvement

You don’t have to overhaul the entire holiday plan. Engage everyone in activities like cookie baking or ornament crafting. The emphasis is on family bonding rather than perfection.

For example, despite her condition, Mom still loves baking. So, make sure she is involved in the pie-making process, which she thoroughly enjoys.

Family Dementia Care Counseling

Caring for someone with dementia symptoms can be daunting. By being dementia-aware, caregivers can manage everyday situations with confidence and compassion. My family counseling sessions offer:

  • General dementia education
  • Caregiver stress reduction coaching
  • Home modification suggestions
  • Management strategies for challenging behaviors
  • Activity engagement techniques
  • Dining experience improvements
  • Respite and ongoing care resources

Each session caters to specific family needs, emphasizing compassionate care. Your dedication and love can make a transformative impact. For detailed insights, click here.

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