Our top 6 tips on how to support a person with dementia at Christmas

The weeks around Christmas are typically considered a time for celebration, the experience can be very different for those living with dementia.  

There is always so much to think about during the holiday season, so at Crouched Friars we have put together some tips to help you support your loved one during these times. 

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Keep it familiar

It’s important to keep things simple for someone living with dementia, especially during the Christmas period when many of us feel overwhelmed anyway. 

Keeping the day’s activities low-key will help your loved one to relax. It’s a good idea to keep meals at regular times and in familiar surroundings to help to limit any potential confusion.

If your loved one attends church during this time but are unable to, consider online or televised services instead. People living with dementia love routine, so try and stick to your loved one’s as much as possible, despite festive disruptions. 


Take a trip down memory lane

Reminiscing, or sharing memories of the past is a great way to connect with someone with dementia. It helps them to feel valued, contented, and peaceful as they recall happy times.

With dementia, people typically lose short-term memory, but are often still able to recall older memories. S it may be that your relative used to enjoy a classic Christmas film or Christmas song, so be sure to reintroduce them to these things. Creating a family photo album or memory box could be another nice way to send time together. 

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Involve your loved one with activities on the day

Make sure your loved one feels part of the day by including them in the preparations and activities.

Perhaps they could lay the table, or help chop the veggies. They may even want to add a bauble to the tree or even serve the christmas pudding. All of these things will help to bring back those special memories.

Less is more

Although Christmas is a time for overindulging, it’s important to remember that eating and drinking can become increasingly difficult as dementia progresses, therefore a full plate can be daunting for someone living with dementia.

Try not to overload your loved one’s plate. The Alzheimer’s society has some great tips to help with eating and drinking on their website. 

Be flexible

It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas traditions and stick to what you’ve always done over the years, but your Christmas may look different as dementia progresses.

Although it might seem that planning ahead is the right thing to do. Bear in mind that it’s always worth having a plan B, and be prepared to change your plans if a particular element isn’t working. 

Be conscious of their needs and emotions

Lastly, Christmas day isn’t just about your relative joining in with your day, it’s especially important to consider their needs during this time.  If they don’t remember it’s Christmas don’t keep reminding them all the time, as it can cause anxiety.

Christmas days can be a noisy event – try to reduce unnecessary noise such as crackers, loud music or blaring television when people are also talking. A noisy environment can be difficult to deal with.

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Christmas day can be tiring and confusing for a person with dementia, so ensure it is manageable. If you are dropping them home, try to take them home in daylight rather than wait until it gets dark so that they are able to see where they are.
Don’t worry if things don’t go quite to plan – just try and enjoy the day!

At Crouched Friars, our residents’ mental and physical wellbeing is of the utmost importance. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here, we’re able to support you and offer you as much information as possible as to how we can help you and your relatives.

For more information, visit our website, or call us on 01359 230773. 

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