Traditionally, Christmas is a time when family and friends gather. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic things are changing for everyone. For families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, holidays are more challenging than ever. This year it’s especially important to adjust expectations. The safest option is to avoid in-person holiday gatherings outside of your household.

Keep Things Simple:

Focus on peace and happiness. Maintain the person's normal routine as much as possible, so that holiday preparations don't become disruptive or confusing.

Small artificial trees provide the beauty of a natural tree without the upkeep or mess.

Battery-operated candles can create a calm environment without the potential for fire.

Avoid blinking lights which may confuse the person.

Physical Distancing:

Consider connecting with others early in the day so you can avoid the evening confusion (sundowning) which may affect the person living with Alzheimer’s.

Go for walks or spend time outside around nature and away from others.

Have someone arrange a "holiday parade" for an hour or less. Ask family members and friends to drive by the older adult's home with homemade signs or other festive decorations. They can even drop off food gifts or home-made cards and craft projects.

Use technology such as Zoom, Skype or video calls to connect with family members. Have young adults in your family arrange this. Keep the cross talk or simultaneous conversations to a minimum since it can be confusing.

Adapt Gift Giving:

Gift certificates for things that will make life easier like housecleaning, yard maintenance, handy man or laundry service, respite care, food delivery gift cards.

Battery operated candles with lots of extra batteries!

Favorite music and treats, photo albums of family.

Audio tapes or websites of the Bible or other books.

If you are the caregiver, be good to yourself. Take care of yourself by staying hydrated, getting proper rest and asking for help. Your family can still experience a happy and memorable occasion.