Dementia and the Holidays

Posted on: December 10, 2015 | 0 Comments | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We all know that the holidays can be wonderful – but also stressful and overwhelming. If you have a loved one who’s suffering from dementia, this time of year can be even more difficult for them.

When a person has dementia, it is more challenging for their brain to process information. Settings with lots of people and activity can be frustrating or even frightening, even if the location and people are familiar. Increased anxiety and behaviors are common consequences of too much stimuli.

It is important for family members to keep this in mind when planning holiday events for their loved one with dementia.

Some things to remember this year…


Limit travel time for your loved one

Travel can be stressful for anyone, but especially from someone living with dementia. Unfamiliar situations or locations, sensory stimulation, and other factors can cause a lot of distress. Keep your loved one’s travel to a minimum to avoid some difficult situations.

Try to keep the get-togethers small and brief

Spending time with family and friends can be a lot of fun, but also overwhelming. Some relatives may not fully understand how to adjust for your loved one’s memory loss, and the stimulation of a long, crowded gathering full of people your loved one may not remember could be tough.

Consider bringing the party to them, instead of taking them out of their home

Your loved one may find the change of scenery to be disorienting. Additionally, imagine how frustrating it could be to enter your own home and not remember where things are. In some cases, it’s better to set yourselves up for a cheerful holiday by bringing the festivities to your loved one, instead of the other way around.

Be willing to be flexible and forego some traditions

This can be incredibly challenging, but keep in mind: your loved one may no longer be able to enjoy the same holiday traditions as before. Be patient with yourself and with them. You’re both going through a period of change.

Try not to disrupt their daily routine

For someone with cognitive impairment, a disruption to their routine can feel very jarring. You can still celebrate the holidays together, but you may need to adjust your plans to fit into your loved one’s current routine.


Of course, the holidays can be an amazing time of year for everyone. During this time of year, many families finally have the chance to get together to catch up and celebrate. Even for those suffering from dementia, the holidays can still be as warm and wonderful as before.

Just remember to adjust your activities and attitudes to make room for the changes that have occurred.

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Jamie's Journey

In 2007, Jamie Wilson (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.

Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, but also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring for someone with dementia.

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