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Have a dementia-friendly Christmas to support your loved one

Having a dementia-friendly Christmas will enable you and your loved ones to all enjoy the festive season!

Christmas is a time for family and festive fun, so making these simple changes as recommended by The Alzheimer’s Society will help your loved one enjoy the festivities this Christmas.

Tips for caring for a loved one with dementia this Christmas

Have a dementia-friendly Christmas with the guidance and support from us here at Trinity Homecare and The Alzheimer’s Society.

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1. Introduce Christmas decorations gradually

The home environment usually offers great comfort in familiarity to people living with dementia, so making any changes with unfamiliar decorations can be distressing and unsettling for a loved one who is living with dementia. Putting decorations up gradually will give your loved one some time to adjust to the changes without feeling overwhelmed.

“This year I put the tree up on the first of December to brighten the place up and it made ‘C’ so happy, she especially likes the old wreath she has had for years even if she doesn’t recognise it.” Nae Sporran, Talking Point

2. Keep the daily routine familiar and simple

If your loved one is accustomed to a particular daily routine, the sudden changes on Christmas Day can be unsettling. Keeping the day’s activities simple and maintaining the daily routine with consistent mealtimes and activities will help your loved one to relax. A regular routine in familiar surroundings will help to limit any potential confusion.

3. Get everyone involved

Having a dementia-friendly Christmas will involve getting creative to simplify festive tasks like pre-printing Christmas cards or putting large loops on baubles to hang on the tree, which will help your loved one feel included in the Christmas preparations. Ensuring your loved one is able to get involved with the festivities will give them a purpose and help to boost their confidence.

“With Christmas cards, my mum still wanted to send them out, so I got her to write her name on a piece of paper. I then scanned, resized and copied them and printed them out onto computer labels. Mum helped me to stick in a few of the labels so she felt involved.” Soobee, Talking Point

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4. Create a safe space

Christmas is a time for family, friends and festive fun, but crowds of people can feel overwhelming for someone living with dementia. Asking loved ones to spread their visits over the festive season will help to limit the number of visitors at any one time and designating a room as a ‘quiet’ room will provide a safe place where your loved one can relax if they feel overwhelmed.

5. Use prompts to reminisce and remember

Whether it’s an old song your loved one used to enjoy or a classic Christmas film, there are many objects, sounds, smells, and activities at Christmas time which your loved one can associate with fond memories. Making a family photo album or memory box could be a nice way to spend time together.

“I have created a memory iPad which has nothing but hundreds of photographs of friends, family and places. Using my computer I have added names, year dates and place names. It has been a long labour of love but it has paid off” Agzy, Talking Point

6. Be conscious of food

A Christmas dinner is a meal that many of us look forward to all year, but large platefuls can be daunting for someone living with dementia, particularly if they have difficulties in eating. Serving smaller portions will help your loved one feel more confident when eating, and offering more servings once their plate is clearer will ensure they’ve eaten enough. For more information, visit The Alzheimer’s Society’s advice pages

7. Go with the flow

Christmas traditions can sometimes take hold of the festivities, but it’s important to be flexible and to be prepared to change your plans if a particular element isn’t working. Your festive season might begin to look different as your loved one’s dementia progresses, but managing expectations and remaining flexible will help everyone relax.

Wishing everyone a happy festive season!

Our friendly Trinity team, The Alzheimer’s Society and their online support community are all available to offer their guidance and advice to help your prepare for your dementia-friendly Christmas. You can find more information in our dementia guide, or contact us to speak with our team.