Health / 02.12.2016

Christmas with dementia: how to care for your loved one

By Francesca Specter
Make the day as special as ever for your loved one


While Christmas is typically a time for tradition, this isn’t so easy when a loved one has dementia. You may be used to doing things in a certain way, but this might provide difficult or even stressful for those suffering from the condition.

READ MORE: I’m always forgetting names, do I have dementia?

Lindsey Edgehill, a representative from Helping Hands home care, says: ‘The sights, sounds and unfamiliar routine of the Christmas period can be stressful for a person living with dementia. While it’s important to make sure your loved one feels fully included in the festivities, you should also be prepared to make some adjustments to make the celebrations as stress-free as possible.’

By applying a flexible approach and making simple changes, you can help to make the day as special as ever for your relative, so that they feel comfortable and you afford any family crises. Edgehill has provided 6 expert tips in order to do this:

1 Reduce clutter on the Christmas dinner table

Vision problems associated with Dementia can make it difficult to spot objects on patterned surfaces. Use a plain table cloth when setting the Christmas dinner table and choose plain plates with a contrasting edge to make it easier to identify the food on the plate.

2 Make your house dementia friendly

Placing signs on cupboards showing the items inside and on doors to indicate which room they lead to will make it simpler for everyone visiting to find items around the home. Placing plain rugs on patterned carpets or on shiny floors will also make it easier for your loved one to get around the house. A Dementia Toolkit including room cards can be requested from the Helping Hands website

3 Make one room in the house a quiet room

The loud noise and hustle and bustle of Christmas can be agitating for a person with Dementia. Making one room a quiet room in the house will give your loved one somewhere to take a few minutes to relax and calm down until they’re ready to rejoin the festivities.

4 Close the curtains as soon as it becomes dark

Reflections in windows can be intimidating for those with Dementia, so draw the curtains as soon as it gets dark to avoid this. Mirrors can also be taken down or covered up to reduce reflections around the home.

5 Try not to break from routine too much

Changes to a regular routine can be the hardest thing about the festive season for a person with Dementia. Bringing reassuring items from your loved one’s home – such as a favourite mug or cushion –  can help them settle in your house.

6 Allow more time for everything

Be prepared to allow more time for regular Christmas activities and when you drop your loved one back at their own home. It’s possible that after a few days away their own house will feel unfamiliar, so allow an afternoon to spend settling them back in and familiarising themselves with their surroundings.

Christmas with dementia: how to care for your loved one
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Christmas with dementia: how to care for your loved one
While Christmas is typically a time for tradition, this isn't easy when a loved one has dementia. Here are the small, expert changes to make a difference.
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