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Creating a Happy Christmas for Someone Living with Dementia

Spending time with loved ones over Christmas is what the festive season is all about, and for those living with dementia it’s just as important. There are, however, considerations to make when spending the Christmas season together, in order to make it an enjoyable and relaxing experience for all. Dementia wellbeing brand, Active Minds, have put together their top tips for creating an enjoyable day for someone living with dementia.

A child giving a woman living with dementia a christmas gift

Food & Drink
Eating and drinking is considered a big part of Christmas traditions, and the Christmas meal itself can be fantastic for evoking memories and encouraging conversation. If the person living with dementia is able, involve them in the cooking process or perhaps talk about recipes from the past. The smell and taste of the food can be a highly sensory and engaging experience for all, which has numerous wellbeing benefits.
It is important to remember when serving a Christmas dinner, that appetite may change as someone progresses along the dementia journey, so try not to overwhelm them with too much food. Alcohol consumption should also be considered and taken only in moderation; whilst it can be enjoyable to consume with others, dementia is linked to memory loss and the person living with dementia may consume more than they are aware of, which may lead to confusion. 
 
Quiet Spaces
Christmas can be overwhelming, with a variety of noises, visitors and increases in decorations, so setting up a quiet space for the person with dementia to spend some time can be beneficial for relaxation. You can also have the opportunity to spend some time with the individual away from the chaos of Christmas day.
 
Visitors
Too many visitors all at once may be confusing and overwhelming for someone living with dementia. Try and stagger visits throughout the day or introduce the person with dementia to each person in smaller groups rather than all at once. For those with later stage dementia, it may also be beneficial to show photographs of each visitor before they arrive and talk about that person to create familiarity.
 
Time Together
Christmas day activities can be a lot of fun, whether you’re taking part in a family tradition board game or perhaps having a sing along. These can all be fantastic for someone living with dementia also. Small considerations may have to be made, for example playing a dementia friendly board game, using dice cards instead of rolling dice or perhaps playing music or watching films from the person with dementia’s childhood; these dementia games can help evoke memories and spark conversations, as well as being relaxing social activities for spending some time together. 

Care Home
For those living with dementia who may be spending Christmas in a care home, it’s important to bring festivities to them. Whether this is visiting with various family members, joining them for a Christmas meal or opening gifts together. Christmas is a fantastic time to reminisce so why not take photographs of Christmases of the past and sit with your loved one and talk about each one.

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