elderly woman holding a happy easter card next to her granddaughter smiling

Managing Christmas and Dementia at home

by KinCare — 16 December 2020

Christmas can cause mixed feelings for those caring for a loved one living with Dementia.  It’s very common to feel a sense of loss for the way things used to be or to feel anxious at the thought of pending festivities and obligations.

During this time, you might feel you should be happy but you could instead find that you are stressed, disappointed or even sad. You may also feel pressure to keep up family traditions which you find challenging due to your regular demands as a Carer.

By modifying some of your traditions in simple ways you can create a beautiful Christmas experience for your loved one, friends and family.

Here are some ideas.

Make preparations together.

Christmas is a time for shopping and preparing food. When preparing food your loved one may be able to participate by mixing ingredients or laying them out on the bench. Concentrate on the doing rather than the result.

You may also find that shopping can become a particularly challenging exercise, this is where Respite options can come in handy.


Relax and recharge

Taking a break from your carer’s role can help you restore your energy, reduce stress and keep your life in balance.

Keep a familiar routine when celebrating.

A change of environment or routine can cause anxiety for a person with Dementia.  Different meal times, new faces, music or loud conversation can be stressful. To avoid disruption, consider holding a small family celebration at home to retain familiarity and work in with the times that work best for your general routine. Keeping a quiet place for your loved one to rest during family get-togethers is a good idea and also allows you some time to spend with visitors.

Preparing for Visitors

It’s important to update family and friends on your loved one’s status ahead of time it will help them prepare and know what to expect.

Arrange for friends and family members to drop in on different days. Even if your loved one isn’t sure who’s who, two or three familiar faces are likely to be welcome. A large group, however, might be overwhelming. Scheduling visits at the best time of day, and fitting into your daily routine can also help.

Don’t forget to accept help! Remember family and friends who’ve offered their assistance. Let them help with taking a break, cleaning and shopping.

Balancing dietary changes

Any holiday is usually a time for different foods and treats to enter your routine.  Keep in mind that all the lovely Christmas treats and cakes are a quick way to increase both sugar and caffeine intake which could impact your loved ones sleep – and yours.  Read about ways to get a good night rest.

Trust your instincts.

You know what’s most likely to agitate or upset your loved one, don’t feel pressured by friends of family members to accommodate challenging plans.

Plan ahead and take on board the support that you have available, and most of all enjoy the Christmas festivities!

If you want more advice, contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

If you would like to understand Home Care options for someone living with Dementia, or need Respite, please call KinCare 1300 702 319.