Making the Holidays Special for Family Members with Alzheimer's

Oct 12th, 2021

While the holidays can be a joyous time for many, they can also present challenges for families with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other cognitive impairment. For those with family members in a behavioral hospital or residential facility, celebrating the holidays can be stressful as families try to recreate a familiar sense of home in a sometimes-unfamiliar setting.
Incorporating familiar traditions into holiday celebrations can help preserve the joy of the season and help create new memories with loved ones.
Deck the halls with keepsakes

Those experiencing the behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s may become confused about their surroundings or agitated by unfamiliar settings. Make their space feel like home by displaying familiar holiday decorations, such as embellished pumpkins, a small artificial tree adorned with keepsake ornaments or family photographs from previous holidays. Talking about the items together as you decorate can help you rediscover memories of Thanksgivings or Christmases past while you create new memories.

Update favorite traditions

Participating in traditional activities can help family members adjust to new environments. Adapting favorite activities to new surroundings can keep memories and traditions alive. For example, decorate cookies together instead of spending a day in the kitchen baking or watch The Nutcracker on DVD instead of attending the live ballet. These adjustments can transform fond memories into meaningful new traditions.

Sing carols together

Keep those Christmas carols on repeat. Not only can music bring family members together in chorus, but music has been shown to reduce agitation and improve some of the behavioral side effects of cognitive disease. Playing familiar carols throughout the season can soothe family members and spark memories of previous holidays.

Celebrate the present

When celebrating the holidays with a family member or loved experiencing the behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important to focus on creating positive new experiences instead of dwelling on the past. Holding on to new memories can help ease some of the stress and anxiety surrounding holiday celebrations with aging loved ones.

If your family or loved ones need assistance during the holidays, Oceans Healthcare can help. Our team of caregivers is available around the clock to support those suffering from the behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s and their families. You can learn more about our services at


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