First of all, I'm aware that family occasions - Christmas, weddings etc - are often a source of strain even without having to take a relative's dementia into account. Even so, I'd appreciate a bit of feedback from people re my father-in-law's forthcoming 95th birthday. He has mixed dementia as well as the general frailty and difficulties (hearing loss, sight loss) associated with advanced age. He lives in sheltered accommodation a few miles away from our house. A carer comes in every morning and a communal lunch is served in the place where he lives. As I'm 'just' the daughter-in-law obviously my role in planning what happens isn't and shouldn't be the key thing. However, because my husband and I are the only people doing day to day support, I have a tendency to feel my views 'should' be taken notice of - even if they're not necessarily the ones that win the day. Before my husband retired I would take my father-in-law to medical appointments, and drive to bring him to our house on visits, as well as cooking for him. The only other relative is my husband's brother. He lives abroad, and only visits a couple of times a year. When he visits or phones he tends to make pronouncements about what 'should' be done for his father, but obviously these pronouncements don't come out of a kind of day to day knowledge. Everything practical and important has been done by my husband and me. I'm also the person who looked up a lot of stuff about the condition when my father-in-law got dementia. My husband tends to get frustrated by his father - which is understandable. So I tend to be the one who says, 'This is part of the illness. It's to be expected. Perhaps what would help is we did/tried this instead of that.' Anyway my husband and I began discussing how to celebrate the birthday that's coming up. He, I, his brother and his father had had a successful lunch at a restaurant near his sheltered accommodation recently. The place was quiet, the staff were caring, they served a fairly simple meal - possibly just a single course plus coffee and drinks. My father-in-law who can get very tired now managed to stay alert and involved and join in the conversation. (At the last family lunch before that where we were a bigger group in a noisier environment, he simply couldn't cope and 'faded out' of the proceedings.) So I'd put forward the view that going back to the restaurant for lunch, and for my sister-in-law (who'd been ill on the previous visit there) to be part of the party, would be ideal. I was aware that my brother-in-law felt that a bigger do would be appropriate. The three grandchildren (two of them are my stepchildren) should come, and my father-in-law's only surviving friend should also come. I was a bit dubious, but could see that if anyone hadn't seen my father-in-law for ages the lunch represented an opportunity. I'd assumed that both the grand-daughters would see their Grandpa at Easter though - and their busy lives might mean they'd find it hard to travel back for the birthday celebration as well. My husband had, I thought, agreed. Just last night though I discovered by chance that things have moved on. My husband has arranged with the restaurant that there should be a special three course menu - the one that's normally served in the evening, and would like there to be alcohol. (Even though my father in law becomes a) offensive and b) exhausted if given wine) He's just told me that my stepdaughter would be there. Apparently this was agreed several days ago. I really like my stepdaughter and haven't seen her for ages - so found it a bit odd that my husband had forgotten to let me know she would be coming along. NB. There will also be a second celebration a few days later at his sheltered accommodation - tea and cake - which will involve me too. It's absolutely not my place to say how the family birthday lunch should be organised. I offered an opinion about what I thought might work well, but of course other people want to make into something a bit bigger and more like the celebrations that used to take place - perhaps because in a year or two years' time, there won't be the chance to celebrate at all. I'd just be interested to know what other people think. I think my husband gets very stressed about everything to do with his Dad, and this may be part of why he hasn't been keeping me updated. I don't want to be a bossy control freak, but I feel as if I'm slightly dreading the occasion because I find it very sad when I see my father-in-law out of his depth. It may be that he will be able to cope with what's going on and enjoy it, but I think it may all be rather a struggle - both for him and for us. Sorry this is such an epic post. Just wanted to get it all off my chest.