Memory Mondays: 4 Ways to Help Loved Ones with Dementia Enjoy the Holidays

As joyous and sentimental as the holiday season can be, there also tends to be tremendous stress involved in gift shopping, event planning and more. Add a loved one with dementia to the mix, and both positive and negative emotions can intensify significantly.

Making sure your family member or friend with dementia enjoys the holidays can be daunting. Here are four ways to improve holiday experiences for everyone involved, especially caregivers and those with dementia.

Be forgiving.

Before holiday events are underway, it’s essential to come to terms with the fact that no one – and nothing – is perfect. Mistakes are inevitable, and it’s crucial to be forgiving across the board. Whether it’s being gentle with yourself, your family or your loved one, forgiveness has the capacity to support a happier, less stressful holiday season for everyone.

Be inclusive.

Just because your loved one has dementia doesn’t mean they should be excluded from holiday activities. No matter where they are in the disease, ensure they are involved with holiday events and traditions by:

– Requesting help with simple tasks

– Reminiscing on past holidays

– Including them in conversation

Be your best self.

Taking care of yourself is perhaps most important in achieving a successful holiday season when a loved one with dementia is involved. This may mean getting enough sleep, taking some time away for yourself or setting aside time for other loved ones. In any case, kindness, patience and appreciation are what you’re striving for as you interact with your loved one with dementia this holiday season.

Rethink your definition of success.

Consider what matters most to you this holiday season. Is it producing the picture-perfect holiday dinner, or is it making a connection with your loved one with dementia? Is it finding the perfect gift, or is it sharing a special moment?

Your loved one with dementia is suffering from a progressive disease with no cure. This holiday season will likely be harder on them than the last, and next year harder than this year. It may become more and more difficult for them to enjoy things.

That’s not to say it’s not okay to spend time preparing decorations, cookies or whatever details your holiday entails. However, when it comes to ensuring that loved ones with dementia enjoy the holidays, putting feelings ahead of festivities may be the ideal what to celebrate the season.