Help for Spending the Holidays with a Loved One who has Alzheimer’s or Any Type of Dementia

Nov 20, 2023

I, Alder Allensworth, have wonderful memories of my grandparents during the holidays: special food, presents, singing carols, playing in the snow, decorating the house and parties.

The holidays can be the "most wonderful time of the year." They can also be very stressful, especially if you have a family member with Alzheimer's disease or any type of dementia. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease and the level of stress changes as the disease progresses.

How do you create and maintain these memories for your children? Below is an overview of frequently asked questions and things to remember during the holidays for each stage of the disease.

Do you change anything to accommodate your loved one who is in the Mild Stage of Alzheimer’s disease?

People in this stage of the disease might not exhibit too many changes in behavior. Family holiday planning in this stage could look the same as it does every year. However, one important tip is to keep to familiar activities. New activities could be confusing for the person who has Alzheimer’s. 

What should you keep in mind when planning holiday activities for your loved one who is in the Moderate Stage of Alzheimer’s disease?

People in this stage of the disease will have a lower tolerance for noise and confusion. It is important to keep days structured and stick to activities that your family usually does at this time of year. It’s important to build in time to rest for the entire family.

How do you include your loved one in the holidays when they are in the Severe Stage of Alzheimer’s disease?

People in this stage may be in bed a lot, or in a facility. To keep children involved, encourage them to share what they’ve been doing, and to read a holiday story or sing holiday songs when they spend time with their loved one either in person, over the phone or zoom. Children can make their loved one cards to send to them or present to them personally. Once again, keep the noise level down when near your loved one who has Alzheimer’s because they have a hard time recognizing the difference between fun loud voices and voices of fear and confusion.

For a more comprehensive list of tips, we have created a free pdf for you called 10 Holiday Tips for Families with a Loved One who has Alzheimer’s or Any Type of Dementia.

Print out the pdf so you have these tips readily available.

 Happy Holidays!

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