From the faint smell of pine and freshly baked gingerbread to the twinkling lights that brighten the evenings, the holiday season is a magical time of year. However, even though this is when many families come together and spend more quality time with one another, the holidays can also be a source of added stress.

In addition to your regular responsibilities, you may be rushing to complete your holiday shopping, trying to get all your decorations up, or preparing your home to host family members or guests. This is a lot for anyone to tackle on their own, but for those who are also caring for someone living with memory loss related to Alzheimer’s disease, the holiday season can present its own set of challenges.

Enjoying this time of year is all about knowing the best ways to celebrate the holidays with your loved one. If you are mindful and accommodating, your celebrations will be both meaningful and magical for the whole family. Our team at The Grove on Forest Lane is sharing a few tips and ideas on how you can do this.

Keep the Season Simple

It can be easy to get swept up in the holiday spirit; going overboard with decorations and filling up your calendar with gatherings, activities, and to-do items. However, it is best to temper sources of overstimulation when celebrating the holidays with a loved one living with memory loss related to Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, focus on what this time of year is really about – connecting and spending quality time with friends and family.

Hosting or attending elaborate holiday parties may be appealing to you, but environments like these can increase confusion for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease, or other dementias, making them feel isolated and out of sorts.

Furthermore, do not feel obligated to attend every gathering you are invited to. Instead, select only the gatherings and holiday parties that are the most meaningful to you and your loved one. By doing so, you are setting a more relaxed pace to the holiday season – one your loved one will find inviting and positive as opposed to stressful.

Celebrate with Your Loved One

The most important way to celebrate the holidays with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is to make sure they feel included. Mental and physical stimulation can go a long way in promoting brain health and delaying the progression of cognitive decline, and involving them in preparations and activities can encourage both.

Honor your family’s holiday traditions, such as adding ornaments to the tree together or decorating your home. Or ask your loved one to help you with simple tasks such as decorating cookies or setting the table before the holiday meal. In addition, “build on traditions and memories and experiment with new traditions that might be less stressful or a better fit with your caregiving responsibilities, such as watching seasonal movies (”

Reminisce about past holiday memories or play their favorite music. These types of activities can keep your loved one engaged and living in the moment.

Prepare Other Family Members Beforehand

Dementia and other conditions that cause memory loss are progressive conditions with symptoms worsening over time. That being said, a lot can happen in a year, and it is likely that some of your family members have not seen your loved one since the last holiday season.

Prepare family members, friends, and guests on what they can expect and how your loved one may have changed since the last time they saw them. Explain the basics of memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and their condition, reminding your family to treat your loved one with the dignity, respect, and patience they deserve.

Even though this year’s holiday season may look a little different than years past, that does not mean you cannot enjoy your family’s traditions and celebrate with your loved ones. Just make sure to take your loved one’s feelings into consideration and make any adjustments when needed.

From all of us at
The Grove on Forest Lane, have a safe and happy holiday season!