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Celebrating the Holidays with a Loved One in Memory Care

Celebrating the Holidays with a Loved One in Memory Care
Setting up the Christmas tree. Lighting candles. The thrill of opening gifts. Sharing delicious food. The warmth of family and friends. ‘Tis the season for reminiscing. For families with a loved one in memory care, navigating the festivities can bring both challenges and opportunities for creating meaningful moments. Below, we'll explore five key strategies for celebrating the holidays with a loved one in memory care.

Safely decorate
Decking the halls is a cherished tradition and can play a significant role in creating a festive atmosphere for everyone, including those in memory care. However, safety is important to keep in mind. Consider limiting tree trimmings to a select few. Ensure that whatever you’re displaying can be touched and explored safely. Be mindful of keeping spaces clear of clutter and tripping hazards. Finally, when creating that special holiday twinkle, select lighting choices that are not too bright or flickering, as this can be disorienting for individuals with memory challenges. Visit the National Institute of Aging for more tips to maintain your loved one’s safety while decorating.

Plan sensory activities to trigger positive memories
Sensory activities can be powerful tools to trigger positive memories and create a sense of familiarity. Engage your loved one with activities that tap into their senses, such as baking holiday treats together, listening to familiar seasonal music, or interacting with scented items that draw up memories of cinnamon sticks or fresh-cut garland.
Focusing on sensory experiences can evoke memories associated with past holidays, fostering a sense of comfort. Even if the memories are unclear, the positive emotions associated with them can create joy.

Simplify familiar traditions
While maintaining cherished traditions is important, it's essential to simplify them to fit the current needs of your loved one. Consider adapting long-standing traditions to be more manageable and enjoyable. For example, if a large holiday meal is overwhelming, opt for a smaller, intimate gathering with familiar faces. Sing shortened versions of carols. Instead of gift wrapping, ask your loved one to help finish boxes with ribbons and gift tags. You can read about these tips and other helpful ways to adapt activities, in resources from the National Institute of Aging.
By simplifying traditions, you can ensure that the holiday celebrations remain enjoyable and accessible, allowing your loved one to participate without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

Balance activities with moments of calm
Holiday festivities can be overstimulating and individuals in memory care may benefit from moments of calm amid the excitement. Create a quiet space where your loved one can retreat if the celebrations become overwhelming. Consider incorporating activities that promote relaxation, such as reading a favorite holiday book or enjoying some hot chocolate.

Balancing lively activities with moments of calm allows your loved one to engage in the festivities at their own pace, ensuring a more enjoyable and stress-free experience for everyone involved.

Adjust expectations
Finally, it's crucial to adjust expectations when celebrating the holidays with a loved one in memory care. Understanding that their abilities and preferences may have changed is key. Embrace the joy in the small moments, and cherish the time spent together, even if it doesn't align with the elaborate celebrations of the past.

By adjusting expectations, you can create a positive and inclusive holiday experience that focuses on the connection and love shared with your loved one, making the season truly special for everyone involved.

Count on a trusted memory care expert
Want more tips to talk to your parent about memory care? Our senior living experts can help you and your family as we have helped so many others at Cardinal Bay communities in Texas and Oklahoma.

We invite you to schedule a complimentary visit to one of our local communities. or learn more with our free, valuable resource, “Your Guide to Senior Living and Care Options in Texas and Oklahoma.” 

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