Alzheimer Scotland is the leading dementia organisation in Scotland.

Christmas tips from Alzheimer Scotland

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Bringing family and friends together at Christmas and New Year is a great chance to catch up, celebrate and exchange gifts. However, for people living with dementia across Scotland, there can be extra challenges, routines disrupted, unfamiliar environments and some services being unavailable over the holidays.

The festive season can be a difficult time for both the person living with dementia and their support network. With the big day just two weeks away, Alzheimer Scotland has pulled together some steps that can be taken to make the holidays as stress free as possible and more enjoyable for people living with dementia, their families and friends.

Christmas top tips for living well with dementia:

 1.    Play some familiar Christmas music or reminisce over photos

Playing old music and looking through photo albums can help to engage those living with dementia. It also adds an extra touch to your festivities!

 2.    Put up your decorations early and slowly

Instead of decorating overnight, plan ahead and introduce Christmas decorations gradually. This will help the person living with dementia to feel more comfortable with the festive changes.

3.    Spread out family visits

A large number of guests at one time can be overwhelming, so ask family and friends to visit you at different times over the festive period. If you are staying overnight with friends or family it can be helpful to make sure that rooms and hallways are safe and well-lit. Adding labels to doors for example the bathroom, can allow the person with dementia to be more independent.

4.    Create a quiet room

If things do get busy, designate one room in your house as a ‘quiet room’ with an armchair to doze in away from loud noise. Remember, carers need naps too.

5.    Keep routine as familiar as possible

Christmas Day means a change to the usual routine, but serving meals at usual times and in familiar surroundings can help the person living with dementia feel more relaxed.

6.    Be mindful of food

Christmas lunch can be daunting for someone who has difficulties eating, so try not to serve large portions.

7.    Get outside if you can

Even though it is cold, make sure to wrap up warm and get some fresh air.

8.    Take time to enjoy Christmas

It’s important that you celebrate Christmas too, so make sure you’re giving yourself time to do things you enjoy doing on Christmas Day.

9.    Watch your diet

Everyone indulges at Christmas we should, but try to ensure you’re still eating enough fruit and veg each day and taking in lots of fluids.

10.  Take time to talk

You don’t need to face dementia alone, talk to friends about it or if you need information or a chat with someone who understands, call the Alzheimer Scotland Freephone 24 hour Dementia Helpline 0808 808 3000.

Elaine Harley, Helpline Manager, Alzheimer Scotland, said: “Planning for the festive season is easier said than done but take a little time out to consider these small changes that will help those living with dementia.  Preparing for schedule changes over the period as well as creating a timetable or diary and regularly chatting through the changes will help you feel more in control of your plans. And remember that GP surgeries are closed so ensure you have enough medication to cover the holiday period.

“Living with dementia continues over the festive period, and the Dementia Helpline also continues to be available throughout the festive period.  Open 24 hours a day, every single day, we are here to help make sure nobody faces dementia alone this Christmas.”

This Christmas, Scotland’s national dementia charity is raising awareness of the Dementia Helpline in the lead up to the festive season and calling on everyone to support the vital lifeline with a priceless donation to help make sure nobody faces dementia alone this Christmas. Donate to the Alzheimer Scotland 24 hour Dementia Helpline online at or by phoning the Helpline on 0808 808 3000.

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