guestpert image

How to celebrate the holidays with grandparents, especially those living with dementia/Alzheimer


Larry Carlson



Larry Carlson, the President and CEO of United Methodist Communities, has over 40 years of diverse experience in multiple aspects of eldercare administration including CCRC, long term skilled nursing, post-acute rehabilitation, congregate housing, adult day health, and assisted living with particular expertise in operations, strategic planning, board development, new project design and development, and construction and start-up.

The holidays are often referred to as “the most wonderful time of the year.” But for those living with dementia, as well as their families and caregivers, the holidays can pose unique challenges. How can you ensure that your loved one with dementia still feels included during the holiday season? What are some traditions or activities that they can easily take part in with the rest of the family? If you need a little help, here are some holiday-themed activities your loved one can enjoy this season.


Watch the classics. Classic holiday movies like Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, and Scrooge can bring back past childhood memories for your loved one. Remember that people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often have an easier time recalling long-term memories than short-term. This holiday activity is also ideal if your loved one has mobility issues. Gather your senior loved one and other family members and make a night out of it – complete with movie theater popcorn and signature holiday treats!


Listen to holiday music. Similar to watching old movies, listening to classic, familiar music can engage seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Music is proven to be closely linked to memories and emotions. Seniors who may have trouble remembering what they ate for breakfast that day, may still remember all the words to “Happy Xmas” or “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” perfectly. This may be a great opportunity to host a holiday karaoke party for the whole family to enjoy.


Craft holiday decorations. Artistic projects can help your loved one with dementia get more in touch with their inner self. Giving them an outlet to be creative can also help them to better express their feelings to you. Not to mention, crafting is just plain fun around this time of year! Create decorations like ornaments, wreaths, lanterns, and more with your family this holiday season. After your crafting session, you could go around the house and dress it up with your homemade decorations.


Bake holiday treats. Tis’ the season to be sweet! Cooking and baking are always great ways to reminisce and connect with your loved ones. While you’re baking signature treats like sugar cookies and holiday pies, talk to your loved one with dementia about your favorite childhood memories from Christmas like waking up on Christmas morning, or setting out cookies for Santa the night before. Reliving happy long-term m


Engaging with a loved one with dementia during the holidays is not about getting things perfect.  The goal is to involve and engage them in your family traditions and allow them to feel successful in whatever activity you are doing together.  So, keep the mood light, find humor and enjoy the holiday experience together as a family.

The TVGuestpert Logo is a Seal of Approval when placed on a Guestpert Profile. It let's you know that we produced the Guestpert's demo and/or results reel separating out those on this site that have not been produced by us.