Enjoying Christmas with a loved one who has dementia

Date published: 18 December 2017

Christmas can pose challenges for people living with dementia, and those close to them. Here are some tips to help everyone enjoy the festive season.

Involve your loved one

In the lead up to the Christmas period, involve your loved one who has dementia.

Things you could do include:

  • discuss with them what they would like to do over the Christmas period - do they want to visit friends or would they like friends to visit them in their own home
  • if family and friends cannot come home for Christmas, consider setting up face time or video calls, this is a fabulous way of people keeping in touch
  • if you haven't done so already, involve them in putting up the Christmas tree and decorations - it provides a perfect opportunity for them to reminisce about their early memories of Christmas and the enjoyable times with friends and family in years gone by
  • if they enjoyed shopping but are less mobile, encourage online shopping, and give them independence over choosing presents for their loved ones
  • arrange for them to go to their local church and/ or carol service over the festive period
  • if they like to be involved in the preparation of food, continue this tradition so that it makes them feel that they have an active role to play and they don’t feel excluded

Advice for carers

If you are a carer:

  • share the caring duties, if family members are home over the Christmas period ask them to help out with the caring role
  • devise a rota for caring duties and have some back-up plans in case agreed arrangements don’t fall into place (grandchildren, friends and neighbours may also wish to be part of a ‘one-off’ rota for caring or befriending, this can allow you to have a night out or a day’s shopping in the run-up to Christmas)
  • you need to spend precious time with your own family, such as husband, wife, partner, children and grandchildren - you should not feel guilty about someone else doing your caring duties 
  • don't forget your own health and wellbeing - plan in advance what you wish to do if you get a break at Christmas from your caring duties

Dementia

You can find information about the signs of dementia, how to get a diagnosis, and where to find help and support in the dementia section.

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