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Make sure your Christmas is Dementia Friendly

Christmas is traditionally a time for good friends and family to enjoy spending time together; for others, it can be one of the most difficult times of the year, especially for those living with dementia.

The noise, change of routine, and maybe some unfamiliar guests can cause distress and confusion leading to behaviour that can be difficult for everyone to handle.

Brian Topping, Chair of Dementia Friendly Rossendale, said: “It’s really important that the community supports each other, especially at Christmas time.  Lots of families will be dealing with difficult memories and supporting family members living with dementia.

There are a few things you can do to help not only the person with dementia enjoy Christmas, but yourself and family members also.  In order to do this, it’s essential that you remember your own needs, and remember to take time for yourself.”

This is some of the advice as recommended by the Alzheimers Society:

  • Plan ahead – if the house is unfamiliar to your guest, putting labels on doors could help, for example the bathroom
  • Safety – make sure you leave lights on and doors open so the person with dementia is less likely to get confused if they are up at night. Ensure doors to the outside are closed securely if needed
  • Mealtimes – don’t overload your guest’s plate. A full plate can be quite daunting for someone who has difficulties eating. They may be self-conscious when eating, so avoid making them the centre of attention
  • Alcohol – drinking excessively can cause arguments and accidents. Ensure drinking stays within sensible limits
  • Quiet – if the house becomes busy, designate a ‘quiet room’ and agree not to watch television or listen to music in there
  • Emotional needs – think of some activities the person may enjoy doing in quieter moments. You could maybe look at old photos together, or involve them in cooking or cleaning
  • Religion – think about their usual or past religious attitudes. Would they like to go to church or listen to hymns?
  • Singing – it might be enjoyable for the person to sing carols. Singing stimulates both the mind and the body

A leaflet produced by the CCG on the behalf of Dementia Friendly Rossendale, listing the things you can do to help, as well as a number of personal experiences from relatives and carers, is available to download:  pdf Dementia and Christmas V2 (446 KB)