Patient Referral

Planning A Successful Holiday Meal When Your Family Member Has Dementia

holiday meal with dementia

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and build lasting memories. However, when someone in your family is suffering Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, it can be tricky to ensure that the festivities go smoothly. As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate and it can be difficult to organize a holiday event that lives up to what you see on Hallmark cards and TV specials.

It’s important to have a celebration that makes sense for your family’s specific needs, especially when you are caring for an ill relative. By planning ahead, you can have a peaceful and festive dinner that includes your loved one. Here’s five tips to help ensure that your family enjoys a special holiday meal together.

Schedule Accordingly

Alzheimer’s patients can find a change in routine confusing and upsetting. Try to plan your holiday dinner around their regular meal schedule. Know that they may tire easily.

Prepare Your Loved One

Explain the holiday schedule to your loved one so they know what to expect. Inform them that you are going to give them a hug or help them into the dining room before you touch them, so they understand what is happening.

Prepare Other Guests

If your holiday guests do not see your loved one on a regular basis, they might not be aware that they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Let guests know in advance that there will be someone at the table with dementia. Explain that they may not remember them or that they may repeat themselves. Ask them to have patience.


Always make eye contact with an Alzheimer’s patient. Speak slowly and use short sentences. It often takes longer for those with dementia to process your question. Do not argue with them or interrupt them.

Keep Them Involved

Don’t ignore someone with Alzheimer’s. Involve them in the festivities according to their abilities. Have them help with setting the table and opening gifts. Play their favorite music. Share photo albums.

Additional Resources:

Alzheimer’s Association

Mayo Clinic

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