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Preparing for the dementia-friendly holidays: Tips for caregivers

Dementia-friendly holidays

The holiday season is a special time filled with joy, family gatherings and cherished traditions.

For people living with dementia and their caregivers, holiday celebrations can also be a time of unique challenges; many people chatting in the dining room, loud background music or unfamiliar places can all contribute to an overwhelming experience and overstimulation.

However, with the right support and preparation, family members and caregivers can plan for meaningful and memorable celebrations. Below are some practical tips for making holidays and family events more dementia friendly and enjoyable.

Plan the visit around the time that is best for the person
While many gatherings take place in late afternoons or evenings, this can be exhausting for people living with dementia. Consider scheduling visits in the morning or in the middle of the day. Every person is different, so check with the families what is best for them.

Plan for smaller gatherings
Consider holding small gatherings and allowing more time between visits. Social interaction encourages communication, but large groups can lead to overstimulation and someone living with dementia – especially in the later stages - may become overwhelmed. Having a quiet room where they can take breaks can also help.

Encourage the person to participate
Focus on the person can do by giving them tasks that allow them to contribute to the festivities, such as setting the table or helping to decorate. If it is safe to do so, consider going for a walk together so they can get a breath of fresh air. If the person is living in long-term care, check with the staff about any special activities for people living with dementia and see if they want to take part.

Reminisce together
Recounting memories can be a way to bring families and friends together. To engage the person living with dementia, create an environment filled with sensory stimuli like photos, seasonal music and their beloved dishes.

Self-care for caregivers
The holiday season can be stressful for everyone, but especially for caregivers. It is important to take good care to avoid burnout. Don't be afraid to ask for help, like shopping or cooking, from friends and relatives. Schedule time to relax and slow down.

Preparing for a dementia-friendly holiday involves understanding the unique needs of the person living with dementia, seeking support and adapting plans to accommodate their changing needs. By following these tips, families affected by dementia can enjoy a meaningful holiday season.

Upcoming in-person education in Penticton

Want to learn more about how to prepare for a dementia-friendly holiday? Join the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s upcoming in-person education workshop, “Preparing for the holidays”. Through education and discussions, participants can explore how to adapt holiday plans, learning tips on how to minimize stress and maximize connection with meaningful activities.

• Date and time: Thursday, Nov. 30, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Location: Penticton resource centre, 104 - 35 Backstreet Boulevard.

To understand how everyone can play a role in building a community that is inclusive, supportive of and safe for people living with dementia, the Society also offers a workshop, “Dementia friends (We all have a part to play! Becoming a dementia friend)”

• Date and time: Friday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

• Location: Penticton resource centre, 104 - 35 Backstreet Boulevard.

People living with dementia and care partners are also welcomed to join the “Dementia-friendly Café” where they can make connections over coffee and meet new friends who are on the dementia journey. This is a collaborative project between the Alzheimer Society of B.C., OneSky Community and the Penticton Public Library.

• Date and time: Monday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (meets weekly)

• Location: Penticton Library

• Registration required: Contact Gail at 250-488-7455

For more information about these education sessions, call the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Penticton resource centre at 250-493-8182 or call the First Link Dementia Helpline at 1-800-936-6033.

The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is here to help.

To learn about the First Link dementia programs and support services, watch this video:


This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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