Manage the Holidays While Caring for Your Loved One with Dementia

We’re well into holiday season, and your to-do list probably feels like a mile long. You have gifts to buy (don’t forget your loved one’s incredible nurses and aides at Regency!), family dinners to plan, cards to send, and so much more.

The holiday season can sometimes feel frantic, but it’s also lots of fun. Is it as enjoyable for your loved one with dementia?

Whether or not your loved one lives with you, the hustle and bustle of this jolly season can be stressful. People with dementia need stability and routine, and any slight change can be very disorienting to them.

Here’s how you can help them weather the holiday season calmly—while keeping yourself sane:

Keep to routine

Staying on schedule is the best possible gift you can give your loved one with dementia during the holidays. If your loved one is an LTC resident, visit them at the same time you always do. This may be hard with all the extra errands you have to do, but try to keep to it as much as possible.

Include them in your preparations

Ask your loved one to help you decorate the table, bake cookies, taste test a recipe, or anything else they can do on their own. They’ll feel included and needed and part of the holiday cheer.

Reminisce with them

Many people feel nostalgic around the holidays, and people with dementia feel it even more. Listen to their stories of holidays past, and talk about some of your own favorite Christmas memories. Keep an eye out though, for blurring of past and present. If your loved one starts looking around for family members who have passed, or become anxious, change the subject to the current holiday.

Say “no” to nonessential tasks

The holidays are a time for giving, and if you can step outside your comfort zone to give a little more that is certainly great. However, you must remember that you’re a caregiver—and you can only give care when your own tank is filled up.

The holidays are for enjoying family time together, so remember to stop, enjoy the time, and take shortcuts in order to stay as present as possible.