Enjoying Christmas with a loved one who has dementia

Enjoying Christmas with a loved one who has dementia

Christmas can pose challenges for people living with dementia, and those close to them. Here are some tips to help everyone enjoy the festive season.

In the lead up to the Christmas period involve your loved one who has dementia:

  1. Discuss with them what they would like to do over the Christmas period; do they want to visit friends or would they like friends to visit them in their own home.
  2. If family and friends cannot come home for Christmas, consider setting up face time or skype calls, this is a fabulous way of people keeping in touch.
  3. Involve them in putting up the Christmas tree and decorations, it provides a perfect opportunity for them to reminisce about their early memories of Christmas and the enjoyable times with friends and family in years gone by.
  4. If the person with dementia enjoyed shopping but is less mobile, encourage online shopping, and give the person with dementia independence over choosing presents for their loved ones.
  5. Arrange for the person with dementia to attend their local church/carol service over the festive period.
  6. If they like to be involved in the preparation of food, continue this tradition so that it makes them feel that they have an active role to play and they don’t feel excluded.

If you are a carer:

  1. Share the caring duties, if family members are home over the Christmas period ask them to help out with the caring role.
  2. Devise a rota for caring duties and have some backup plans in case agreed arrangements don’t fall into place. Grandchildren, friends and neighbours may also wish to be part of a ‘one off’ rota for caring or befriending, this can allow the carer to have a night out or a day’s shopping in the run up to Christmas.
  3. Carers need to spend precious time with their own family such as husband, wife, partner, children and grandchildren. Carers should not feel guilty about relinquishing their caring duties for a brief period; it gives other family members an opportunity to re-bond with other loved ones.
  4. Carers must not forget their own health and wellbeing - Carers should plan in advance what they wish to do if they get a break at Christmas from their caring duties. Schedule in activities, shopping trips, visits, pampering and physical activity.

In addition, an online resource available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/dementia provides information on the signs of dementia, how to get a diagnosis and where to find help and support.