Christmas is a time to gather with family and friends and to enjoy wonderful meals together – something we all look forward to – including older people and people living with dementia. To ensure no one misses out on the food pleasures of Christmas, we’ve compiled some tips to help you prepare for the holidays.
Provide finger foods
Food is one of the main features during Christmas and opting for more snacks and finger food can greatly benefit your loved one with dementia. Ensure that there is a range of snacks placed throughout the living area which guests can enjoy. This allows the person with dementia to walk around, digest food and engage with others in the process, even if they are distracted from eating at times. Preparing finger foods means that if the person forgets or has difficulty with cutlery they can still enjoy their food with dignity. This may also encourage more eating. Under-nourishment is often an issue for people with dementia.
Dementia friendly recipes
Some people with dementia may have swallowing or chewing difficulties and so smaller portions and softer food are important. It is wise to check if there have been any changes in diet since the last time the family were together, and ensure any specialist advice is planned for in the menu. Find some great recipe ideas here: Top Christmas recipes for people with dementia.
Involve your loved ones
Involve your loved ones during conversations and involve them in the festivities. You can ask them to help set the table or decorate the Christmas tree. The last thing you want to do is make your loved one feel left out during the festive season. Don’t be afraid to display old photos or videos from previous family gatherings.
Be mindful of the environment
You may choose to spend Christmas at a new location this year and it’s important that you are mindful of this new environment. New environments are unfamiliar to those living with dementia and can be increasingly stressful. Eliminate the stress by ensuring you have all your loved ones medications on hand and a change of clothes. We discourage families from spending Christmas at a restaurant for example; your loved one may need a place to rest as well as a bright bathroom, something many venues do not have.
Spending time with your loved ones this Christmas is meant to be a joyous celebration, but if you’re feeling particularly stressed out about the holidays, we encourage you to join our support group. Never neglect your needs as a carer!