Preparing Guests Visiting for the Holidays

Preparing for the holidays is stressful. If you are caring for someone with dementia, you may also need to prepare guests for how to visit with your loved one.

Explain to guests that the person with dementia may not always remember what is expected and acceptable. Here are some other tips for successful visits:

• Let guests know ahead of time about any unusual behaviors that may take place, such as incontinence, eating with fingers, wandering, or hallucinations.
• If this is the first visit since the person with dementia advanced to a later stage of the disease, tell guests to be prepared for changes, and that the person may not remember their names or relationships, which may be painful.
• Explain that the loss in thinking abilities is the result of the disease and is not intentional.
• Stress that the meaningfulness of the moment together matters more than what the person remembers. The person may not remember guests but can still enjoy their company.

Read this tip sheet for more holiday hints for dementia caregivers.

Author: Raj C. Shah, MD

I am geriatrician and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center.

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