Tips caregivers can share to make a holiday gathering special


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The holidays are all about spending time with friends and family.  Including a person with dementia in these events is important because it helps connect, through familiar faces and objects, to their past.  

But including people with dementia in a social gathering, especially a large one, can be challenging. Compared to one-on-one interactions, they have difficulty with the extra stimulation.

Although most people with dementia still enjoy socializing, they aren’t the only ones who have difficulty communicating.  Sometimes friends and family feel uncertain of what to say when speaking to someone with dementia.

To help ensure a fun family gathering, here are some tips to help both people with dementia and their families:

  1. Have her sleep in or take a nap in the afternoon to make sure she is rested for the gathering.
  2. If she is still able, get her to help prepare the meal with simple tasks, like peeling potatoes.
  3. Limit the number of guests to around ten so she is not overwhelmed.
  4. Limit loud music as it’s distracting
  5. Make sure she sits at the table to help her feel part of the group.
  6. Encourage family not to be shy. My mother always enjoyed when people spoke to her and not just the group.
  7. Share tips with the family to improve communication, like being aware of their body language, smiling and using humour.
  8. Be flexible and respond to mood changes. If she appears restless or irritated, take her away from the party for a break.
  9. Ask for her help with cleaning up after the meal.
  10. As the evening winds down, consider an activity better suited for someone with dementia, like looking through old family photos, which can stimulate reminiscence.
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Last Updated: 11/08/2017