Holidays and Dementia: A Meaningful Season for Your Family Member

Senior Woman and Adult Daughter Decorate Christmas Tree SaraBella Senior Living

The holiday season is a time for gathering with family and friends, sharing special moments, and creating cherished memories. However, when a family member has dementia, the festivities can present unique challenges and opportunities.

Dementia is a progressive neurological condition that affects memory, cognition, and behavior. As a memory care provider in Sarasota, Florida, we have seen firsthand that celebrating the holidays with a family member who has dementia requires patience, creativity, and sensitivity. However, it can still be a meaningful and heartwarming experience.

Our team at SaraBella Senior Living is sharing tips on navigating the holiday season while caring for a family member with dementia.


Plan Accordingly

The key to a successful holiday celebration with a family member living with dementia is thorough preparation. Start planning early, considering the individual’s capabilities, interests, and limitations. Keeping their preferences in mind will help create a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Simplify Traditions

It is essential to simplify your holiday traditions to accommodate your family member’s condition. Reduce the complexity of festivities, decorations, and schedules. Focus on the most meaningful aspects of the holiday, such as spending quality time together, rather than overwhelming events.

Consider listening to holiday music, looking at old photos, or sharing favorite holiday stories. These simpler moments can bring a sense of joy and connection.

Create a Safe Environment

People with dementia often have difficulty with spatial awareness and balance. Remove tripping hazards, such as extension cords, and make sure the living space is safe and comfortable. Avoid using flickering or bright lights that might cause confusion or discomfort.

Maintain Routines

Individuals with dementia benefit from routines and familiarity. Try to stick to their daily schedule as closely as possible during the holiday season to minimize stress and confusion. If changes are necessary, communicate them clearly and in advance.

Communicate with Other Family Members

Make sure other family members and guests are informed about the person’s condition and any specific needs they may have. Educating those present allows them to be more supportive and understanding.


Embrace Flexibility

Flexibility is essential when it comes to the holidays and dementia. Be prepared for unexpected changes in mood, behavior, or needs. If a planned event does not work out, adapt and find an alternative everyone can enjoy.

Engage the SensesSenior Woman Baking Cookies with Grandchildren_Memory Care in Sarasota

Sensory experiences can be powerful for individuals with dementia. Incorporate scents, sounds, and textures that are familiar and comforting. Baking cookies, decorating the tree, or lighting scented candles can provide a multisensory holiday experience.

Manage Expectations

While it is natural to hope for a perfect holiday, it is important to set realistic expectations. Your family member’s condition may make it challenging for them to participate in certain festivities or remember details. Instead of expecting everything to go perfectly, focus on the love and connection you share.

Offer Choices

Give your family member choices whenever possible. Offer two or three options for events or meals, allowing them to feel a sense of control and independence, which can boost their self-esteem and reduce frustration.

Creating a Loving Space

Practice Patience and Empathy

Caring for a family member with dementia can be emotionally challenging, especially during the holidays. It is important to practice patience and empathy. Remember, their behavior is a result of their condition, not a deliberate choice.

Take Care of Yourself

Caring for someone with dementia is a demanding role. If possible, arrange for other members to take over for short periods during the holiday season to give yourself a break and recharge. Having this support is essential for your overall health and well-being.

Connect Emotionally

Senior Woman and Adult Daughter Connecting at Christmas Dinner_Holidays and DementiaWhen living with dementia, cognitive abilities may decline, but emotional connections often remain intact. Focus on creating emotional bonds and cherishing the moments of connection you share with your family member during the holidays.


Celebrating the holidays with a family member who has dementia can be challenging, but with careful preparation and a commitment to creating meaningful moments, it can also be incredibly rewarding. After all, the essence of the holidays is not in the grandeur of the celebrations but in the love and togetherness you share.

To learn more about our memory care services in Sarasota and how we celebrate the holidays in our luxury community, visit our website or contact a member of the SaraBella Senior Living team.