12 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays
When holiday traditions have to be adjusted for a loved on with dementia, it can be hard to – well – adjust! With a few simple tweaks and managing expectations, the holiday season really can be enjoyable for everyone. Whether you use a tip each day or unwrap them all at once, we hope these ideas can help you create a happy holiday season.
1. Create a warm, inviting environment with a few familiar holiday decorations, scents of the season, and music. Don’t stress out about putting up ALL of the holiday decorations.
Focus on putting a few favorite things where you’ll be sure to enjoy them. They can be a great conversation starter or something to reminisce with your loved one!
2. Keep traditions that work for your family, but recognize that they may need to be adjusted. (Let’s be honest, we’re all getting good at adjusting holiday plans at this point!)
For example, if you’ve always had a big holiday dinner, it might make sense to do it at lunchtime so the gathering doesn’t go as late in the evening. Or new traditions might be better for your family – make it a potluck or have it catered so there’s less mess and stress!
3. Ask your loved one to help you with tasks that they can, so they still feel involved in the holiday traditions.
Simple things such as putting a stamp on an envelope for holiday cards or spreading the tablecloth out on the table can help them feel included.
4. Consider having family and friends travel to you, rather than traveling to them.
Not only does it take the stress of traveling off of you (and the changes to your routine), but it also important to keep everyone healthy too. Experts still currently recommend anyone in a higher risk group minimize public travel if possible.
5. Keep the schedule as close to normal as possible. Don’t pack too much into one day. After a busy day, plan a day of rest.
This could be a great year to start a new tradition of watching a favorite holiday movie together!
6. Smaller gatherings may work better than big, overwhelming events.
Try to space out your visits with family, or if everyone gathers all together, plan to just stay for a little while at the beginning of the day (or what works best for your loved one’s schedule!).
7. Give your loved one a “buddy” at events so that you can enjoy time talking with the people that you want to talk with without worrying about your loved one’s whereabouts.
It also can help your loved one get to actually visit with friends and family too – they can step into a quieter room to chat or enjoy some hot cocoa!
8. If you’re hosting gatherings in your home, have quiet spaces available to get away from the hustle and bustle of visitors.
This can be helpful even if you’re not planning a big event, but just as a place to unwind from a busy day!
9. Plan respite so that you can have some time to yourself - holiday shopping, coffee with a friend, attending a religious service- knowing your loved one is safe and cared for while you are away.
You’ll feel the holiday cheer more when you can take some time for yourself too!
10. When it comes to gifts, consider simple items that your loved one may enjoy – foods, hobbies, scrapbooks or photo albums, or just time together!
More ideas include favorite snacks (even a subscription box), cozy items like blankets or fuzzy socks (did you know you can make your own personalized socks?), adult coloring materials, music, or even a massage!
11. And don’t forget gifts for yourself! Consider asking for regular respite time. A trusted friend or neighbor can plan a regular activity with your loved one, giving you time to yourself throughout the year.
Your loved one might enjoy a weekly walk with a neighbor or even a regular phone call from a family friend, while you can pay bills, run errands, or just relax!
12. Any day can be a special day. When celebrating a holiday with your loved one, it does not have to happen on the date on the calendar.
The turkey will taste just as good the day after Thanksgiving! Try not to get hung up on everything being perfect, but finding smiles where you can throughout the holiday season.
If you'd like to print this list or share with a friend, you can download the 12 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays tip sheet. Happy celebrating!
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