Making the holiday season dementia-friendly

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – With Christmas just days away, many people are getting ready to spend time with loved ones, but with the 180,000 people ECU Health experts say battle dementia in our state, we should consider adapting our plans to accommodate them.

ECU Health’s Senior Services Prevention Coordinator Mary Hall said we can start by not comparing this year to past holidays.

“You can’t think about the way things used to be because things are going to be very different this year”, said Hall.

If you have family coming over who have not seen your loved one for a while, ensure they are prepared.

“Just having those conversations ahead of time to say here’s what we’re dealing with and here’s some things you might observe and here’s how to handle that”, said Hall.

Brookdale Senior Living Program Coordinator Andrea Barlow recommends keeping the plans calmer, such as avoiding flashing and pulsing lights.

“Make sure that there’s not too much stimulation, not too much noise, that the temperature is comfortable for them, maybe not for us, all of that, it’s all about the loved one”, said Barlow.

While it is important to keep the same routine for them, Hall says it is also crucial to include your family members with dementia in the family celebrations as they may be able to remember some of the good things.

“Having those reminiscing opportunities to just think about traditional meals you might have prepared or wrapping presents or stuffing stockings or whatever they may do, that they can still function and be a part of that celebration together”, said Hall.

And for caregivers, Barlow said to be flexible and to prioritize your health as well.

For more information, you can visit or the Alzheimer’s Association. You can also contact Hall for more information on a Caregiver Specialist.