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How to Create Holiday Joy: For Dementia Family Caregivers

The holidays will feel different this year as everyone adjusts their expectations to the reality of 2020. But those who are living with someone with dementia have an extra issue to consider. With all the stress of the year behind us, is it less complicated to not celebrate at all?

I’d still advocate for hauling out the holiday decorations this year. Studies show that putting up holiday decor can lift your mood!

A decorated home also provides the perfect setting for indulging in holiday nostalgia. While short-term memories may be affected in the early stages of dementia, many long-term holiday memories likely remain. Sitting by the fire and reminiscing about past holiday celebrations together might be just what we need in 2020. 

The decorations aren’t the only things that can bring back long-term memories. Smells and tastes trigger memories as well and can bring feelings of comfort. Collaborate on an old family recipe or a simple cookie recipe, and look for ways that your loved one with dementia can help (stirring the batter, rolling it out, dropping the dough onto the cookie sheet—these are all meaningful, helpful tasks). That old familiar, cozy, holiday scent will fill your home as cookies bake in the oven.

Involvement in meaningful tasks brings purpose to our days. Ask your loved one for help throughout the holiday season in various purposeful activities, such as:

    • hanging ornaments
    • wrapping gifts
    • stuffing envelopes with holiday cards
    • decorating cookies
    • leading a traditional holiday prayer
    • caroling together
    • decorating cookies
    • hand-making gifts together (Pinterest always has fun holiday craft ideas)
    • listening to a cherished holiday story together

Even amid the challenges of 2020, we can find comfort and safety in holiday traditions we enjoy year after year. Those with dementia can still participate in the season, especially since holiday traditions run deep into our past. 

Please reach out to me via email if you want to explore these ideas a bit more or are interested in learning about our services.

From all of us at True Care, we’d like to wish you and your family a peaceful holiday season.

Posted by Grace Townley-Lott, LMSW in Alzheimer's & Dementia, in Caregiver Corner

Written by Grace Townley-Lott, LMSW Grace Townley-Lott, LMSW

Grace Townley-Lott, LMSW is the Director of the True Bridge program at True Care, which provides additional support for those with memory loss. True Bridge provides strengths-based care to empower, encourage, and engage our clients. With almost 15 years of experience working specifically with clients with dementia-related conditions and their families, she enjoys building connections and opportunities for expression through creative engagement. After work, you can find Grace reading, writing, painting, or creating artistic specialty cakes.