Navigating Holiday Gatherings with a Loved One with Dementia

Caregiver Resources & Support
November 21, 2023

The holiday season is a time of joy, togetherness, and cherished traditions for many families. However, when you have a loved one with dementia, these gatherings can present unique challenges. It's important to ensure that the holidays remain special and enjoyable for everyone, despite the changes dementia may bring. In this blog post, we'll explore some helpful tips and strategies for families with loved ones living with dementia to make holiday gatherings as pleasant and meaningful as possible.


Plan Ahead:

One of the most crucial aspects of ensuring a successful holiday gathering with a loved one with dementia is planning ahead. This includes considering the individual's current stage of dementia, any dietary restrictions, and their preferences. Planning ahead will help you create a comfortable and familiar environment for your loved one.


Keep It Familiar:

Stick to familiar settings and routines as much as possible. If you traditionally celebrate the holidays at home, try to maintain this tradition. Familiar surroundings can help reduce confusion and anxiety for your loved one.


Limit the Guest List:

Large, noisy gatherings can be overwhelming for individuals with dementia. Consider keeping the guest list small and intimate, inviting only close family and friends who your loved one recognizes and feels comfortable with.


Maintain a Routine:

Try to adhere to a regular routine, even during holiday festivities. This can include serving meals and engaging in activities at the usual times to help your loved one feel secure.


Simplify Decorations:

While holiday decorations can be beautiful and festive, too many decorations or flashing lights may confuse and agitate your loved one. Consider a more simplified approach to decorating to maintain a calm atmosphere.


Be Mindful of Noise Levels:

Loud noises, such as holiday music or laughter, can be distressing for someone with dementia. Pay attention to the noise level in your gathering and provide a quiet space where your loved one can retreat to if needed.


Adapt Gift-Giving:

Keep gifts simple and meaningful. Items that evoke fond memories or sensory experiences, like cozy blankets, or photo albums, can be more meaningful and enjoyable for your loved one.


Offer Support:

Design a family member or caregiver to provide continuous support and companionship to your loved one throughout the gathering. This person can help manage potential challenges and ensure their comfort.


Communicate with Guests:

Inform your other guests about your loved one's condition and educate them on how to interact with sensitivity and understanding. Encourage guests to be patient and adapt to your loved one's needs.


Embrace Flexibility:

Flexibility is key when planning holiday gatherings with a loved one with dementia. Be prepared for unexpected changes or challenges, and try to roll with the punches. The most important thing is to make your loved one feel loved and secure.



While holiday gatherings with a loved one living with dementia may require some adjustments, they can still be joyful and meaningful experiences. By planning ahead, maintaining familiarity, and embracing flexibility, you can create a warm and welcoming holiday environment for your loved one and your family.Remember that the true spirit of the holidays is about love, connection, and being together, and this can be achieved in many different ways, regardless of the challenges dementia may present.


At ONELIFE we want to be a resource for families and their loved ones.  Please call us if we can help navigate challenges you may be facing.


Happy Holidays from all of us at ONELIFE Senior Living