Safety tips for the holidays


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Ensuring people with dementia can continue to live safely at home is a key priority for the Alzheimer Society. The home’s many traces of the past can help preserve a sense of self. And holiday rituals like decorating a Christmas tree or lighting a menorah make this connection even more important as people reminisce of seasons past.

But a home can also be dangerous for older people, especially for those with dementia. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help during the holiday season as the weather gets colder, the days shorter and the house decorated.

During the winter, it may get colder in the house. But people with dementia struggle to know if they are warm or cold. To help with issues that arise with the colder weather:

  • Encourage him to wear long johns under his pyjamas and socks and slippers in the house.
  • Be careful when using electric mattress blankets or pads as they can cause burns and fires. Keep the control out of reach.
  • Avoid leaving him alone with an open fire

Holiday decorations can also present a hazard to people with dementia. When making your house festive, keep in mind that:

  • Holiday decorations, such as Christmas trees, lights or menorahs, should be secured so they do not fall or catch on fire.
  • Extra precautions should be taken so that lights or breakable items are fixed firmly and out of the way of those with Alzheimer’s disease.        
  • Make sure that small decorations, matches and erasers are secured in a drawer.

People with dementia will feel increased anxiety, confusion, and even sleepiness due to the decreased sunlight in the winter months. To manage these issues:

  • Make sure she gets some physical activity each day.
  • Install special bulbs that simulate sunlight.
  • Open curtains during daylight hours.

3 of 5 people with dementia will go missing at some point.  Finding Your Way is a program designed to keep people with dementia from going missing and having a plan in place if they do. To access many materials about wandering, visit

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Last Updated: 11/08/2017