Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many. For people living with dementia, and their carers, the season can be especially tough. Not only do carers have to navigate the complex emotions that often come up around Christmas, practical difficulties, like reduced transport links, closed services and even Christmas decorations, can also make the season a challenge.

As a carer for someone with dementia, the key to surviving the Christmas period unscathed is planning. Organising your schedule, and keeping your loved one entertained, will help you to cope with everything the festive season can throw at you.

Decorate the home

Introducing a few festive decorations into the home can help to brighten up the space and remind your loved one it’s Christmas. However, it’s important to avoid using lots of bright or flashing lights as these can cause confusion and make life more difficult for people living with dementia.

Talk to family and friends

If you’re meeting up with family and friends this Christmas, make sure they’re all aware of the current situation. The personalities and abilities of people with dementia can change quickly. Updating friends and family on how your loved one is feeling, situations they find difficult to cope with and how well they understand the world around them will help to make Christmas go as smoothly as possible.

Don’t go overboard

Although inviting a few friends or family members round for Christmas is a great way to celebrate the festive season, it’s a good idea to avoid overcrowding your house and overwhelming your loved one. If possible, just invite a few people round and ask them to stay for an hour or two. If you’re visiting family or friends, choose a destination that won’t be too busy and that’s within easy reach of home.

Talk to carers

If you have professional carers in to help a few times a week, it’s important to talk to them as soon as possible about their Christmas plans. A lot of people will take time off over Christmas, so you might need to bring in additional carers to help bridge the gaps. If your loved one doesn’t like strangers, it might be a good idea to have these new carers come round to visit a few times before the festive season kicks off.

Getting out and about

Bright, flashing Christmas decorations can make even familiar spaces feel confusing for people with dementia. Try to avoid visiting busy town centres at night as your loved one could easily become overwhelmed by the lights, colours and people. Instead, head out during the day or choose places that won’t be crowded.

You can learn more about coping with dementia, and about the help and support that’s available in your local area, by exploring our site