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3 Tips for Organizing a Dementia-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to connect with family and friends, share a meal together, and celebrate the holiday season. If you plan on celebrating Thanksgiving with a loved one experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, consider implementing these three tips for an enjoyable, stress-free day.

1. Create a Welcoming Environment

Find a quiet and familiar space away from crowds and holiday commotion. If possible, invite your family and friends to your loved one’s home or the home of their caregivers. A recognizable environment will prevent your loved one from getting anxious and reduce their travel time.

A warm and welcoming atmosphere with comfortable seating and familiar food will lower your loved one’s chance of being overstimulated. If possible, include your loved one in the holiday preparations with simple and manageable tasks such as washing vegetables or setting the table.

2. Educate Your Friends and Family

Be selective about who you invite to the celebration and provide safe topics or props to foster conversation. Family picture albums are a great way to interact with an individual with memory challenges.

Educate your friends and family ahead of time on how to keep your loved one feeling safe and comfortable for the duration of the gathering. Show them what to look for when your loved one is getting anxious or overwhelmed and provide them with tips on how to de-escalate the situation. If possible, teach your guests about active listening and suggest they avoid interrupting or correcting your loved one when they forget something or repeat themselves.

3. Remove Holiday Expectations

Your traditional celebration might look different this year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be enjoyable. Try to schedule the get-together and meals at a time when your loved one is most alert and typically in a positive mood. Keep the holiday short and sweet to avoid burn-out at the end of the gathering.

This is the time to prioritize what works best for the current situation, which means potentially creating new, simpler traditions. Remove the pressure of certain time-consuming meals, elaborate decorations, and personal expectations.

Take advantage of this holiday by finding joy in its true purpose—gathering with your loved ones and treasuring the experiences you get to share with them.

Willow River is Here to Help

At Willow River, we understand the challenges Alzheimer’s and dementia can bring. If you have questions or need help, Willow River has the answers and resources to assist you in this transition. Call Willow River Senior Living at 888-546-1886 or contact us through our website to start the conversation today.