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elderly woman, adult woman, and young girl making cookies together

How to Navigate the Holidays with Your Loved One with Dementia

The holidays are a season of spreading love and sharing in cherished traditions.

But if you have a loved one who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, this year may require some changes to your usual plans.

The Kensington Falls Church and the Institute on Aging hosted a virtual Zoom event on Dec. 14 to offer guidance on how to navigate the holidays peacefully this year if you have a loved one with dementia.

Watch our recording of the event to hear expert ideas on purposeful gifts and creative, meaningful ways to spend time with family and friends.

Let’s take a look at The Kensington Falls Church’s tips to planning activities and making memories with your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Planning gatherings and activities for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia: A guide for families and caregivers

If this year’s holiday celebrations feel stressful or challenging, we have some tips to help you navigate the season successfully.

During our event with the Institute on Aging, experts will discuss how to adapt while caring for your loved one and discover new ways to find joy in the season.

As we approach the holiday gatherings, it will be important for caregivers to determine their limits as well as their loved one’s limits.

Communicate with your family the expectations prior to a gathering. If the gathering is at your own home, make clear to all attending what your loved one needs to feel comfortable and supported.

Use your best judgment regarding which parties to attend, and make sure your loved one has a safe space to go if they feel tired or overwhelmed. Sometimes, it may be best to plan to attend a gathering for only a short period of time.

If you opt out of attending any gatherings, there are plenty of holiday activities for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia to enjoy in the comfort of their own home.

Making memories and spending meaningful time together is best kept simple

For those experiencing the symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s, simple, meaningful activities are often best.

At home, you are able to control your loved one’s surroundings so they are as peaceful and comforting as possible.

Consider enjoying the following activities at home with your loved one this holiday season:

  • Decorating cookies
  • Crafting simple decorations for the home
  • Watching holiday movies
  • Listening to holiday music
  • Looking at old photos
  • Creating holiday cards
  • Making a simple craft or art project

Activities your loved one used to enjoy may not be as enjoyable anymore, so it could take some experimenting to find new activities.

Check out our Kensington Konnect hub for more activities and ideas.

Above all, make sure to treat yourself and your loved one with kindness and compassion as you navigate the season. You both may experience grief or confusion at the loss of activities or traditions you used to enjoy.

However, with patience and creativity, you can make new traditions.

Gift ideas for each stage of memory loss

Alzheimer’s disease and all types of dementia are progressive, meaning the symptoms will gradually worsen over time. 

Your loved one’s interests and level of independence may change from year to year, which can make it feel challenging to choose the perfect gift for them.

Take a look at our gift ideas to help spark your own ideas and creativity based on your loved one’s unique interests. 

Gifts for the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, your loved one may be experiencing symptoms such as memory loss and confusion but still are living fairly independently.

Gifts at this stage may serve to exercise the brain, relieve stress, and offer comfort.

Consider the following gifts:

  • Puzzles
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Word games
  • Board games
  • Cozy blanket, socks, or robe
  • Digital photo album or customized calendar
  • Coloring books
  • Craft kits
  • Homemade gifts from children or baked goods

Gifts for the middle stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia

The middle stage of Alzheimer’s or dementia typically can last several years. 

In this stage, additional symptoms may appear and existing symptoms may worsen. 

Gifts that will reduce anxiety or introduce new, fun activities may be most helpful, including:

  • Weighted blankets
  • Cozy sweater or slippers
  • Music streaming subscription, such as Apple Music or Spotify
  • Movie or TV streaming subscription, such as Netflix or Hulu
  • Memory box with newspaper clippings, photos, and treasured family items

Gifts in the late stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia

In the late stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, the focus shifts to comforting your loved one and indulging their senses.

Consider the following gift ideas:

  • Stuffed animals, dolls, sensory pillow, or fidget blanket
  • Simple craft or puzzle
  • Paint-by-number kit
  • Audio books
  • Essential oil diffuser

At The Kensington Falls Church, we maintain a full calendar of life enrichment activities for our residents at every stage of care.

Activities and friendships have been shown to reduce stress, preserve wellness, keep the mind sharp, and increase feelings of worth, especially for seniors. 

We are always searching for new ways to stimulate the mind, strengthen the body, and nourish the spirit.

How The Kensington Falls Church devotes care to benefit both seniors and their family caregivers

Our Promise at The Kensington Falls Church is to love and care for your family as we do our own. We are here for you — skilled, prepared, and ready to participate fully in your care journey.

Our team believes the degree of memory loss is an important consideration when planning care. We empathize with both residents and their loved ones, who each must confront the challenges of memory loss.

We are committed to supporting family caregivers as they navigate the changes and challenges involved in a loved one’s care. 

We offer the following services to support these caregivers:

  • Partnerships with leading experts in Alzheimer’s and dementia research
  • Frequent events to educate and support our community
  • Kensington Konnect hub with informative and entertaining resources
  • Blog filled with informative content

Additionally, our loving team is standing by, eager to listen and ready to help.

The Kensington Falls Church, your partner in caregiving

No matter where you are in your care journey, we are here for you.

As specialists in all aspects of assisted living and memory care, we offer services and programs that are thoughtfully designed, clinically comprehensive, and highly personalized. 

Our memory care program is geared for the whole family. By offering three levels of memory care, we improve quality of life for our residents to the greatest extent possible. 

We also welcome couples, even if their care needs differ.

Take a look at some of the services we offer:

  • Licensed nurses on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Medication/diabetes management, including injections by licensed professionals
  • Rehabilitation, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies provided by Genesis Rehabilitation
  • Extensive support programs, including wheelchair assistance, two-person or three-person assists, and wound care
  • Individualized service plans tailored to personal wants and physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual needs
  • Regular family nights and support groups
  • Accommodation of special diets, such as diabetic, renal, gluten-free, or vegetarian overseen by a registered dietician
  • Pocket Programming to enable each resident to participate in small-group activities based on their interests and abilities

Reach out to our team today to learn more about our events, caregiver resources, or information on moving your loved one to our community.

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