Posted 4th December 2023

Supporting people with dementia at Christmas

Supporting a person with dementia during Christmas

The Christmas season can be both enchanting and challenging for individuals with dementia. While Christmas is a time of celebration, it’s essential to approach it with sensitivity and awareness when supporting someone with dementia. Here are practical tips to ensure a warm and inclusive holiday season for individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

1. Create a familiar environment

Maintaining a familiar and comfortable environment is crucial for individuals with dementia. Consider decorating the living space with familiar items and subtle Christmas decorations. Avoid overwhelming them with excessive or flashy decorations that might cause confusion.

2. Keep routines consistent

Consistency is key for those with dementia. Try to adhere to regular routines as much as possible, including mealtimes and daily activities. Familiarity brings a sense of security, especially during a season that might already be disorienting for them.

3. Involve them in preparations

Engage individuals with dementia in the holiday preparations to provide a sense of purpose and involvement. Simple tasks like wrapping presents, decorating cookies, or listening to holiday music together can be enjoyable and meaningful.

4. Plan quiet spaces for rest

Christmas gatherings can become noisy and overwhelming. Designate a quiet space where those with dementia can retreat to if they need a break. This ensures they can participate in festivities at their own pace without feeling pressured.

5. Be mindful of gift choices

When selecting gifts, select items that bring back positive memories or sensory experiences. Consider items related to their past hobbies or interests, or gifts that engage the senses, such a soft blankets or their favourite music.

6. Adapt activities to their abilities

Modify traditional Christmas activities to suit their abilities. If they enjoy baking, simplify recipes or opt for no-bake options. Choose activities that align with their cognitive and physical capabilities to ensure they can participate without frustration.

7. Monitor their wellbeing

Keep a close eye on their well-being throughout the festivities. Look for signs of fatigue, stress, or discomfort, and be prepared to adjust plans accordingly. Prioritise their comfort and ensure they have the option to rest when needed.

8. Seek support

Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally demanding. Reach out for support from friends, family, or local support groups. Sharing experiences and advice can help alleviate the challenges associated with caregiving during the holidays.

Remember, the Christmas season lies in creating moments of joy and connection. By approaching the celebrations with empathy and adapting to the unique needs of individuals with dementia, you can ensure a meaningful and positive Christmas experience for everyone involved.