How to have a dementia-friendly Christmas

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How can you make Christmas a relaxing time for everyone, including your relatives who have dementia? Our loved ones with dementia deserve a lovely Christmas just as much as anyone, but they might need a helping hand so the day doesn’t become overwhelming. Here’s how to help create a lovely Christmas for people with dementia.

Dementia affects approximately 850,000 people in the UK.

Millions of families will have someone who has dementia joining their Christmas celebrations this year.

Christmas with dementia is different, but there’s no reason this should be an obstacle to you and your family having a lovely day.

The Alzheimer’s Society gave their top tips to ensure your relative with dementia enjoys their Christmas.

1 – “Avoid building up a mental of image of what you want Christmas to look like”

The Alzheimer’s Society warns against high expectations for a “perfect” Christmas.

They say: “Many of us have treasured traditions we associate with Christmas, from Buck’s Fizz to carol concerts to a timeless game of charades.

“But dementia can be unpredictable, and it is important to try and be flexible and adaptable to how the person with dementia is feeling.

“Be ready to reassure and support your loved one, as they may become disoriented by the flurry of events around them.”

2 – Remember mealtimes can be difficult for your relatives with dementia

Don’t take it personally if your relative doesn’t want extra portions of dinner, or struggles to finish the food on their plate.

The Alzheimer’s Society says: “People with dementia may not eat as much as they used to.

“This can be for lots of reasons – being in pain, having difficulties with communication or damage to the brain caused by their dementia.

“Make sure you don’t overload the plate – small and regular portions often work best.”

Being patient with your relative and listening to them if they say they’re finished without putting pressure on them is best.

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3 – Plan activities carefully

Just because someone at your Christmas celebrations has dementia, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be included in the fun; but you might need to make some adjustments for them.

The Alzheimer’s Society says: “Think about what your loved one enjoys doing and make adaptations.

“For instance, if they really loved choosing presents for people in the past or going to Christmas services, but are not as mobile as they used to be, you could shop with them online or watch Christmas services over the internet too.

“Our annual carol concert on December 15th will be both online and in person – find out more at”

Songs can be powerful reminders for people with dementia, as some people connect with songs better than they do other memories.

This may well give you the chance to do something together.

4 – Ask for support if you need it

Christmas can be an emotional time of year at the best of times.

If one of your beloved relatives has dementia, it can make Christmas a powerful reminder of activities they are no longer capable of, and you may find yourself feeling out of your depth when it comes to supporting your relative.

The Alzheimer’s Society is offering support to anyone who needs it over the festive period, and at other times of year too.

They say: “Whoever you are and whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for confidential support and advice this Christmas and all year round.

“Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line and online community, Talking Point, are there to help at what can often be a difficult and lonely time for people affected by dementia.”

5 – Prepare the children

Co-creators of new app for dementia patients and their families MOJO, Sasha Cole and John Thornhill, have also offered tips for the festive season.

Sasha, a former carer for people with dementia, says: “If you haven’t already, explain their nan or grandad has dementia and they may seem confused.

“They should try not to worry about out of character behaviours which may be triggered at such times.”

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