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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Huelat

A Personal Journey through Holidays with Dementia

As the Thanksgiving season closes, my seasonal memories invariably turn to Mom and Joe. Remembering them navigating the labyrinth of dementia, and with the holiday cheer came tinged with a blend of anticipation and apprehension. But should we skip these cherished celebrations on their account? Not at all. Let me share how I learned to intertwine their journey with the holiday spirit, creating moments of warmth and joy amidst the challenges.


Simplifying for Serenity

For Mom, complex events and bustling environments were a recipe for confusion and distress. I learned that smaller, quieter gatherings during her best hours made all the difference. Holding her hand, guiding her through interactions, and sharing stories became our ritual to ensure her comfort and enjoyment.


Embracing the Familiar Love of Church

Oh, Mom's face would light up when we visited her cherished church, especially during Christmas. The nativity scenes, the fragrant pines, poinsettias, and the fresh scent enveloping the air—it was as if she found solace in the familiar embrace of the holiday season.


Rekindling Joyful Memories with Joe's Favorites

Joe always had a soft spot for our local parade of boats on the Potomac and the Christmas parade in Old Town Alexandria. Seeing his eyes light up at these familiar sights reminded me that joy can be found in the simplest of traditions.


Including Mom in the Traditions She Treasured

Despite the challenges, I discovered that involving Mom in familiar activities brought moments of connection. Decorating cookies, setting the table, or helping with simple tasks made her feel included and valued—a small but significant win in our journey.


The Harmony of Music in Mom's Heart

Mom's love for Christmas music was unwavering. The melodies seemed to transport her to a place of comfort and happiness. It was a constant backdrop, turning routine activities into moments of serenity and joy.


Finding Beauty in Imperfection

Learning to adapt plans became second nature. Sometimes, Mom would grow restless, yearning to return home. We'd gracefully wrap things up, understanding that her comfort was paramount, and that brought contentment to us all.


Celebrating Togetherness, Despite Challenges

Dementia may have altered the script, but it couldn't erase the essence of the holidays—moments woven with love and togetherness. Our celebrations, though different, were brimming with meaning and the beauty of shared experiences.


Navigating the holidays with Mom and Joe amidst their dementia journey taught me patience, resilience, and an appreciation for the profound simplicity of being together. It's these moments—the shared glances, the familiar tunes, and the warmth of their smiles—that truly define the spirit of the season for us.

Don’t sit this one out. Embrace the holiday season with your loved one with dementia by involving them in simple activities, creating a calming environment, planning activities that match their abilities, cherishing moments of connection, embracing new traditions, making it a family affair, and finding solace in shared experiences. Cherish the moments and create new memories that will last a lifetime.



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