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Tips on Adapting Holiday Activities for Family Members with Dementia

Tips on Adapting Holiday Activities for Family Members with Dementia

It can be a challenge hosting holiday festivities with senior family members with dementia, but you still want them to be included and enjoy the holiday. Follow these tips to help you adapt your holiday activities and festivities to loved ones with dementia so they can enjoy the holiday without getting overstimulated or anxious. 

Host smaller gatherings.

Large crowds or noisy gatherings can overwhelm seniors with dementia and lead to disorientation or stress. To help prevent sensory overload, try limiting the size of your holiday gatherings. It may also be helpful to keep the main festivities to immediate family members only. 

Timing is important.

It is important to schedule family gatherings around your senior family member's schedule. If they don't start their day till later, have your holiday party in the afternoon, and if they tend to get agitated in the evenings, schedule your holiday party to earlier. This will allow them to stick to their regular schedule and enjoy the holidays with their family and friends. 

Encourage one-on-one visits.

If you are hosting a small family gathering and starting to get crowded and noisy, make sure your senior family member has a quiet place to relax, away from all the noise. 

You can also have family members take turns spending time with them while they are in a quieter and calmer place. This will allow them to spend time with their family during the holidays without getting overwhelmed.

Plan holiday activities they can enjoy.

You can make sure your loved one will feel included and participate in holiday parties by pre-planning activities they enjoy. 

If you know your senior family member loves baking, you can organize a cookie decorating party with your family members and grandchildren. Many seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia also enjoy music, so plan a karaoke party and play their favorite holiday tunes. 

Help them maintain their regular diet.

A large part of the holidays consists of eating delicious food and desserts that may not be healthy. Heavy food can upset seniors' stomachs because most older adults have sensitive digestive systems. 

It is also important to note that alcohol can be problematic and interfere with their medication and can also cause seniors with dementia not to act in the best manner. Therefore, your loved one should maintain their regular diet during the holidays and limit their consumption of unhealthy food and alcohol. 

Keep outings brief. 

If you and your loved one will be attending a holiday party, be ready to leave early, if needed. Holiday gatherings with a lot of people and noise can overstimulate seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Therefore, you should keep outings short or make sure your loved one has a place to rest and take a break. 

Remember to take care of yourself.

Although you may be taking care of your loved one, take breaks. If you feel you need to relax for a bit, ask another family member to take care of them for an hour or two while you enjoy the festivities. 

It is important to give yourself a break so you can relax and so you can have the energy to take care of your loved one properly. 

Caring for a loved one with dementia may take up much of your time and physical and emotional energy. Your senior loved one may be eligible for NY State's CDPAP program. The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) is designed

to empower individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses by giving them more choices and control over their care. Individuals with NY Medicaid can choose their caregiver (anyone except for their spouse or designated representative) and the state will compensate the caregiver for their care. This can help relieve the financial burden families’ caregivers face when confronting giving up their job or caring for their senior relatives while working.

Elite Choice is a lead fiscal intermediary in NY State.  To learn more about how CDPAP works and how we can help, visit our website at or call us at 718.925.2900.