12/23/2013 04:28 pm ET Updated Feb 22, 2014

Celebrating the Holidays With Dementia

It's Christmas and you're stressing about what to do about your mom for the holidays.

She is frail and forgetful and the holidays aren't the same as they used to be. Many questions swirl in your head: Should we have her come for dinner? What kind of presents do I buy her? What would she like to do?

Here are some thoughts:

1. Involve Mom in things that have meaning, no matter how small. Ask her opinion about a recipe. How best to wrap a present. Where to find the best Christmas tree. Show that you value her.

2. Reminisce. As we grew older, our health doesn't allow us much optimism. Try to get her in a better emotional place. Talk about the best holiday season you each remember. Play music that has been a tradition and have food that has been a part of your family holiday meals.

3. Two things that can lift the spirits of the older generation in a millisecond are kids and pets. Have mom spend time with the new family puppy. Have the kids wear their elf ears and put on a Christmas pageant for Grandma. Let Mom share valuable holiday history with the kids too.

4. You have to think ahead about how the day will go and prepare for new obstacles.
  • Is there a place to lie down if she is tired?
  • Who will help her if there is an accident?
  • Make sure food is easy to chew and digestible.
  • Do you have all medications for the day?
  • Have dinner a little earlier than normal. Often, people who have memory loss will suffer sundowners, becoming agitated when it gets dark.
We will all reach this stage of majesty someday and we owe it to our older loved ones to give the little extra effort to make their holidays a positive and joyful experience.