Merry and Bright: Have a Dementia-Friendly Holiday

The holiday season is here, which means shopping, wrapping, and planning for festivities. During this season, you may also be experiencing mixed feelings about your loved one with dementia and how to ensure they have a special holiday season. Whether they join you at home or celebrate here in the community, we offer some tips for having a dementia-friendly holiday.

Focus on Being Present

The holidays are for making memories, so try to focus your energy on what’s happening in the moment. A person living with dementia may not engage in holiday festivities like they used to, but what matters most is being with their loved ones. Avoid comparing previous holidays to today, and instead, reminisce with them about past traditions. Even if they cannot fully remember, they will sense your mood as you share your own favorite memories and pick up on your cues. Your mood influences theirs!


“I remember when we all used to go look at the window displays at Marshall Field’s. They always had the best decorations! My favorite was….”

Image: HB-07690-D, Chicago History Museum, Hedrich-Blessing Collection

Prepare Family Ahead of Time

Explain to family and guests that your loved one may display different behaviors than what they’re used to and prepare them for any “unexpected” behaviors or interactions. 

Don’t try to test your loved one’s knowledge by asking, “Do you remember who this is?” Instead, introduce family and friends to your loved one and help them feel welcome!

Find the Right Balance

Be prepared to make changes to holiday plans to both accommodate your loved one and create the least amount of stress for yourself. Group size, environment, and time of day are all important factors to consider if a person living with dementia will be joining your celebrations. For a dementia-friendly holiday, try to keep their routine as consistent as possible and avoid overstimulation.

Happy holidays from Central Baptist Village!

Helpful Titles

We suggest these titles for further reading:

Taking care of your health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Baylor College of Medicine experts have plenty of tips to help you stay healthy. Visit Health Hint: Dementia care | BCM Family for more information.

Discover vital holiday advice for Alzheimer’s caregivers at the National Institute on Aging, providing essential tips for navigating the festive season with loved ones affected by the disease. Visit Holiday Hints for Alzheimer’s Caregivers | National Institute on Aging for more information.