Enjoying the Holiday Season with a Loved one who has Alzheimer’s

Holiday Season Kicks off with Thanksgiving and lasts until the New Year

The holiday season is about to kick off this Thursday, November 28, 2019 with Thanksgiving. The holiday season will continue from Thanksgiving into Christmas/Chanukah and end with the celebration of the New Year.

Holidays Pose Special Challenges for Caregivers of People Suffering from Alzheimer’s Dementia

Holidays pose special challenges for people suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia and their caregivers. Actually, holidays that bring families and friends together can trigger good memories and act like a kind of reminiscent therapy for people with Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, holidays can put a lot of stress on the family members and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. How does one cope who has their own needs during the holidays while having to care for a family member with dementia?

The Right Planning can make the Holiday Season Enjoyable for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has compiled a list of suggestions and hints to help family members caring for a loved one with dementia have an enjoyable holiday season.

Try to Include Person with Alzheimer’s in Preparations and Festivities

First of all, try to include the family member with Alzheimer’s as much as possible in holiday preparations and festivities, as long as this is not overwhelming.

Set Limits

At the same time, set limits as to what can be done together with the family member with dementia. Make this is very clear to other members of the family.

Prepare Guests who will be arriving for Changes that Have Taken Place

Prepare guests, who will be arriving, that changes have taken place since they last saw the demented family member. Explain to them that there may be hallucinations, wandering and incontinence. Warn them that it may be difficult for them to see a loved one who no longer can eat with a fork and spoon and who may dip their fingers into dishes of food on the table. Moreover, their biggest shock may be a loved one who no longer recognizes them and you should prepare them for this scenario. Impress upon them that this memory loss is a part of the disease and no one should take it to heart if their loved one no longer remembers who they are.

Prepare the Family Member with Alzheimer’s for the Arrival of Guests

About a week before the guests are to arrive, show your loved one photos of them. Explain to them who will be coming and who each person is in the photos. Do this on a daily basis. You might also try having them speak on the phone with a guest who will be coming for the holiday meal.

Keep Things Simple

Keep meal planning simple, so that you will not have to spend so much time in the kitchen, but will be able to keep an eye on your demented loved one. Try having a potluck meal where each guest will bring something to contribute towards the meal.

Home Safety

You can never be too careful when it comes to home safety for a person with Alzheimer’s. People with Alzheimer’s have a very high rate of unintentional falls. Make sure there is nothing for them to trip over. Keep the floors free from clutter. Also, never leave the demented loved one alone in a room that has lit candles, menorahs or a fire burning in a fireplace. Electrical lighting can also be dangerous. Make sure your Christmas tree is secured firmly so that it cannot topple over. Read more about home safety for people with Alzheimer’s at the National Institute on Aging.

Change in Routine can be Overwhelming for Someone with Alzheimer’s

A change in routine can be overwhelming for someone with Alzheimer’s. Also, being in crowds and seeing many people and new faces can also be overpowering. A good idea is to keep the loved one with Alzheimer’s in a separate room where family members can go in a few at a time.

If you are going out Make Sure there is also a Quiet Area

Going out to a new place can be overwhelming, so make sure there will be a quiet corner for the person with dementia to go and rest.

Avoid Noisy Places and Flashing Lights

Avoid places with loud music, flashing lights, very bright or dim lighting and lights that move around. A combination of flashing lights and loud music can be very traumatic for someone with Alzheimer’s.

No Alcohol or New Kinds of Food

Make sure no alcoholic drinks will be served to your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Also, that foods will be those they are familiar with. It might be a good idea to bring along some food from home that your loved one is used to.

Respite Care

If you need a break over the holidays or are invited somewhere that is not appropriate for your demented loved one, you could place your loved one for a short while in respite care. The best place for respite care is usually a memory care center in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. Here the staff will know how to treat people with Alzheimer’s and help them not to feel overwhelmed in a new setting. Memory care units are especially designed in all ways to help the person with dementia. You will be able to go away knowing that your loved one is being properly cared for and is safe.

Respite Care at the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York offers expert memory care for someone with dementia. They also have a fantastic venue of special holiday feasts and activities. Read more about amenities and recreation at Van Duyn in our blog post from May 30, 2018. If you are in need of a break for the holidays, you can send your loved one to Van Duyn for a short time for respite care. Read more about respite care in our blog post from August 21, 2019.


With the right preparation you will be able to care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s and enjoy the holidays. Respite care can also give you a break to do something for yourself over the holidays.


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