773 E. Haverford Road • Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

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The Holidays & Memory Loss

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can make families and friends uncertain of how to celebrate the holidays with their loved one. They might get caught up worrying about how to balance the holidays around their loved one’s routine or if the holiday excitement will induce any anxiety or discomfort. Just like any holiday gathering, it requires planning ahead and a positive attitude.

“The most important thing is that you’re all together,” says Sharon Major, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. “Everything doesn’t have to be perfect when it comes to minor things like decorations. Focus on experiencing the present moment and having fun together!”

When planning for the holidays, make sure the area where the holiday celebration will be held is safe for the person with memory loss. Lighting, decorations and activities should all be organized while keeping their needs in mind.

Tips for Safety

  • Follow the routine. Having a routine is comforting and familiar to those with memory loss. Tailor the holiday celebration to their needs. If someone is planning on bringing the party to their loved one, it’s best to not rearrange the room. They might really like the placement of a certain photo or chair and it could be very upsetting if they were moved and something else took their place.
  • Keep the area well lit. This helps to prevent any slips, falls or confusion about the area. Cords should be out of walkways and remove rugs or mats that could cause the person to trip.
  • Decorations. Avoid decorations that could be confused with food. Those with memory loss could think fake fruit or even pinecones are food. Ornaments that resemble food also have the potential to be a hazard. Keep it simple. Decorate the mantle, put up Nutcrackers, etc.
  • Consider the time. If evenings are a difficult time for the person with memory loss, have the party earlier in the day. A holiday brunch or lunch could fit their schedule and comfort level more than an evening celebration.

Families might be worried about the rambunctious activity that usually accompanies the holidays and how their loved one will respond to it. One good idea is to have the caregiver next to your loved one throughout the day. If things get too noisy or stressful, the caregiver can take them into another quiet room. The caregiver should have some other family members on stand by for support in case they get tired or want to join in the festivities themselves. 

Holiday Activities 

  • Listen to holiday music together. Whether people are singing together or music is on in the background, it can create a pleasant and festive atmosphere.
  • Cook/bake. Whether it’s cooking the meal or baking holiday treats, this activity will also allow the person with memory loss to use their sense of sight, smell and taste.
  • Arrange flowers. Making pretty decorations for the table together will be stimulating visually and aromatically. Displaying these arrangements during the meal will be a subject for conversation and your loved one can feel pride in their work.
  • Go through old photo albums. Bringing back favorite pictures from holidays past can also inspire memories and stories. 
  • Admire decorations. Going for a drive and looking at festive lights can be a nice break from the busy celebration scene and provide a quiet and calm environment where your loved one can enjoy the sights of the holidays. 

There are many ways to successfully celebrate the holidays with your loved one with memory loss. Taking the time to coordinate and plan it out with family will make things smoother and easier for everyone involved. Including the person with memory loss in helping the holidays come together will keep them in the moment and provide a fun and happy holiday experience for all.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments. 

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5404 or contact us online. 

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.