Alzheimer's Association: The Holidays and Alzheimer’s

Our friends at the Alzheimer's Association share this wonderful resource with us to promote a healthy and enjoyable holiday season.

Holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions that families look forward to all year, but they can be challenging for the millions of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Currently, there are more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and more than 11 million family and friends serving as caregivers. 


“Changes in the daily routine, large gatherings and noisy environments – all holiday hallmarks – can create extra anxiety for someone living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” said Monica Moreno, senior director, care and support, Alzheimer’s Association. “Individuals living with Alzheimer's may also feel a special sense of loss during the holidays because of the changes he or she has experienced. It is important to plan ahead and keep your loved one in mind.” 


To help families navigate holiday-related challenges, the Alzheimer’s Association is offering these simple tips to ensure an enjoyable holiday for all.


Familiarize others with the situation: The holidays are full of emotions, so it can help to let friends and family members know what to expect. Cross talk or simultaneous conversations can be challenging for people living with Alzheimer’s, so try engaging them one-on-one or in smaller group settings. 


Build on traditions and memories: Take time to experiment with new traditions that might be less stressful or a better fit with your caregiving responsibilities. If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, turn your holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch. 


Involve the person living with Alzheimer’s: Depending on abilities and preferences, make sure to keep the person with Alzheimer’s involved in the celebrations, such as packing cookies in tins or helping wrap gifts.  


Plan ahead: When attending a holiday party, prepare the host for special needs, such as a quiet room for the person to rest when they get tired, away from the noise and distractions. 


Adapt gift giving to ensure safe and useful gifts: Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items people living with the disease can easily enjoy, such as comfortable clothing, favorite music, videos and photo albums.


More holiday tips can be found by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association website at alz.org. The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline also provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call the toll-free Helpline anytime, even holidays, at 800.272.3900.