Coping with Christmas


Registered User
Aug 27, 2003
I am a copywriter and I regularly work for the Alzheimer's Society. I know it might seem a little early, but I am currently working on something for the Society for Christmas! I would be very interested in your views about Christmas. How do you approach it? Do you get together with your family for christmas day? What challenges does your or your loved ones dementia bring? How do other people cope with having someone with dementia around for christmas? Have you had any particularly good or bad christmases? How is christmas different now that you are living with dementia? Do you celebrate it at all? Do you celebrate christmas differently now? Do you get together with other people in your support group?

I know there are alot of questions there, but I'm really interested in what you think. If you could share any of your expereinces with me then I would be truly grateful. I want what I write to reflect the experiences of people living with dementia as authentically as possible and so I need your help. I look forward to your replys




Registered User
Aug 27, 2003
Middlesex England

Our last christmas was terrible,I wanted everything to be like it used to be,put the tree up and all the decorations etc.My husband was in hospital and come out on the 23rd of december then on the 30 of dec he had to return due to lack of care which we were grtting from an agency into our house.
the week that he was at home,he didn't even know it was christmas I might as well of left the tree in the loft.Its so hard to try and act as if he really understands whats going on.The family are unable to cope with my husbands illness therefore christmas was quite lonely.
I dont know that this is what you want to hear?


Registered User
Aug 27, 2003
Thank you very much Annette,

Your experience of what Christmas was like for you and your family is very useful. I appreciate this can be a very difficult time of year and I want to get to the heart of the problems that people face. I think your experience highlighted some very difficult issues such as loneliness, getting adequate care over the holiday period and getting other familiy members to understand and cope with dementia. I have spoken to a few other people, and I know you are not alone in facing these problems.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.



Registered User
Jul 9, 2003
South Coast
Dear sac

I enjoy celebrating Christmas and used to put quite a lot of effort into it (decorations, cooking, presents etc) but have decided this year that it's best not to invest too much effort in preparing for it, as my husband isn't really too interested - a few bits of decoration, a present to unwrap and a turkey dinner seem to be enough to keep him happy! Also - life's too short to stuff a mince pie!

Having said that, my husband enjoys seeing friends and family, although not in large groups (no more than 4 or 6 people), as he gets very confused in large gatherings where he can't follow what's going on. If we are invited to a party he seems to enjoy it for about an hour, then his mood changes and he wants to go home (and this is among people he knows and who understand the situation). I wouldn't choose to go to a gathering where there were more than a few people who didn't know about his illness and make allowances.

One of our sons (I think) finds his father's illness quite difficult to cope with (as does his partner I think), and has said that they won't be coming for Christmas this year as they want Christmas on their own (but fair enough - they usually spend alternate Christmases with us and with her parents, and they were with us last year). They may well visit over New Year. Our other son may be working over Christmas, but if not he will be with us - he is coping amazingly well with the situation and is brilliant with his dad - much more patient and tactful than I am, in fact! They are both in their early twenties.

So. as far as I can give advice it is as follows:-

1. Keep it simple and stick to routine as far as possible
2. Keep the numbers down - try to arrange to see people at different times, rather than all at once.
3. Accept that family and friends all have different ways of dealing with your loved ones illness and that some find it more difficult than others - don't feel resentful of people if they find it too hard or distressing to spend much time with you.
4. Do be careful if the alcohol is flowing - you may feel in need of it, but it may not mix with any medication your partner/parent is taking!

Try to have the best Christmas you can, but give yourselves a break - you're not taking part in a competition for the best produced Christmas ever!



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