Preparing for a dementia friendly Christmas

A Person with dementia may struggle with all the new faces that arrive, increased noise levels and bright twinkly lights that bring changes to their world.

Preparing for a dementia friendly Christmas


Christmas is coming and everyone is busy shopping, wrapping, and getting excited about the festivities that are fast approaching.  However, someone with dementia may struggle with all the new faces that arrive, increased noise levels and bright twinkly lights that bring changes to their world. Christmas may become a time of anxiety and muddled confusion.

Helping someone with dementia do their Christmas shopping is a lovely excuse to take them out for a shopping trip, if that is within their capabilities.  Alternatively, using a tablet computer or laptop, bring the shops to them and help them order things from the comfort of their own homes accompanied by cup of tea and a mince pie or two!

Putting some simple structures in place on the big day can still make it an enjoyable family Christmas for all involved, it just takes a little thought in advance and coordination.

  • Set aside a quiet room where noise and light are kept to a minimum and ensure only one or two people are in there at any time so the person with dementia can retreat there for a quiet chat in order to feel more at ease, less anxious and less overwhelmed.
  • Christmas Lunch may be a lovely family occasion but groaning over-flowing plates of food and increased noise and light levels can make it not so enjoyable for some.  As we get older, large portions become over-whelming and more roast potatoes can always be offered if required!  Another simple tweak to the festivities might be that the excited cracker-pulling could be reserved until those who don’t appreciate loud bangs have been able to vacate the room, along with the dog and cat......
  • There are plenty of dementia-friendly gifts available nowadays from reminiscence jigsaw puzzles using your own family photos, to A5 sized electronic photo frames, both of which provide stimulation for the brain and encourage warm memories.

The most important part of Christmas for someone with dementia, is how much being together with family members makes them feel loved, part of a close family group of people who know them and have shared memories of their past.  Christmas is a great time for reminiscing, and this works so well with those with dementia as it encourages their hippocampus (the part of the brain where memories are stored, that is often the first things that is affected by dementia) to have a little enjoyable workout, whilst also stimulating their amygdala which is where emotions are stored. 

For more information on how you can support a person with dementia at christmas visit 

Tamsin Hudson

Dementia Care Adviser

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