Celebrating the Season When a Loved One has Dementia

Celebrating the Season When a Loved One has Dementia

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



Making the holiday season meaningful and bright for your family when a loved one has dementia might feel a little daunting. The disease can create many challenges that can make a change in schedule more difficult. The key to planning for a happy holiday is to focus on what your loved one can do rather than on the losses created by dementia.

Creating Meaningful Holidays for Adults with Dementia

From holiday decorations to family celebrations, planning is the key to enjoying a successful season when a loved one has Alzheimer’s. Here are a few tips to help you plan this year.

Download The Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing Early Signs of Dementia

Holiday Decorations and Alzheimer’s

Start by taking a good look at your holiday décor. Is there anything that might present a risk to a senior with memory impairment?

  • Fall Risk: Moving furniture around, running extension cords to and from holiday décor, and generally changing your home environment can put a senior with dementia at risk for a fall. Try to minimize the disruptions and keep the rooms the senior typically uses most often the same.
  • Avoid Disorienting Lights: Try to avoid using holiday decorations that have flashing, twinkling, or blinking lights. These can be disorienting and confusing for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, use lights that remain steadily lit.
  • Artificial Candle Flames: Candles are a part of many faith-based holiday celebrations. But an open flame can be dangerous for someone whose judgment is impaired by Alzheimer’s. Stick with battery-operated candles that have an artificial flame. If you do opt for real candles, keep matches and lighters locked away.

Celebrating the Season Together

When it comes to planning family gatherings, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Consider the Time: Schedule holiday celebrations for the time of day your loved one generally feels their best. For some adults with Alzheimer’s, the early evening hours can be tough. Those who suffer from “sundowning” might be at their worst during what is traditionally considered the cocktail hour. It might be better to plan a brunch or lunch instead.
  • Involve the Senior: In years past, your senior loved one likely played a key role in hosting holiday gatherings. So try to involve them in any way you can this year. Some tasks a senior with dementia might be able to help with are washing vegetables, setting the table, mixing up cookie dough, and filling candy dishes.
  • Quiet Time: Noisy, busy gatherings can trigger anxiety and agitation for someone with dementia. Have their bedroom or another quiet space prepared for them to retreat to if the party gets to be too much. Play soft music and have some of their favorite magazines or craft projects ready for them to engage in.

Holiday Gifts for an Adult with Dementia

If you are looking for gift ideas for a loved one with dementia, we have a few suggestions:

  • Sensory Stimulation: Scented lotion made with organic ingredients makes a great gift. Scents that can be especially soothing include lavender, sage, rosemary, and peppermint.
  • Practical Gifts: While they might not seem very exciting, practical holiday gifts should also be considered. A jogging suit that is easy to pull on and off, CDs with nature sounds, comfortable pajamas, and a pair of slippers with non-skid soles are all good gifts for an adult with dementia.
  • For the Birds: Bird houses, feeders, and food also make great holiday gifts. Studies show that bird watching has a calming effect on people with Alzheimer’s disease and similar forms of dementia.

Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia

Do you suspect a senior you love might be in the early stages of dementia? Sometimes the symptoms of the disease can mimic other illnesses, like an infection or a thyroid problem. Our Guide to Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia might be helpful in telling the difference.

The guide can help you understand more about dementia, learn to identify the symptoms, and review care options you might want to consider if your family member needs help. Download it today and share it with others who are involved in your senior loved one’s care.

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