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As we approach the end of the year, the holidays bring a time of family, friends, and traditions.  During this season, the presence of dementia can have a huge influence on everyone – the individual living with cognitive impairments and those who love and care for them. To help navigate a happy season for all, try some of these creative ideas from https://www.mind-start.com

  • Enjoy looking at the decorations of the season. This may be going to a mall to see a decorated tree or driving to look at lights on houses.
  • Read out loud classic Christmas stories. For those who are religious, you might read the Christmas story from the Bible or celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah. 
  • Do one of these Christmas tree crafts or string green, red, and/or white peppermint life savers and hang as garland.
  • Roll sugar cookie dough balls and then roll in a bowl of colored sugar. Bake and eat!
  • Listen to favorite songs or hymns. Music can elicit a response from even those in the late stages of dementia.
  • Have the person put bows on presents that you wrap, even if they are just empty boxes wrapped as decor to go under the tree.
  • Enjoy the different tastes of the holidays – peppermint, cinnamon, eggnog, and ginger. Make an easy Santa Brownie Treat.
  • Put jingle bells into an organza bag, along with any other small holiday decorations, like bits of ribbon, small gift wrap bows, small pinecones. Set out the bag as a decoration and/or shake to hear the ringing sound.
  • Play a simple game that young and old can enjoy together, like a bean bag toss into a Christmas tree stand. Or try these simple MindStart games or Finishing the Lyrics of classic songs.
  • Look at photos from holidays past. Don’t focus on people in the pictures, that the person may not remember, but rather items in the pictures – for example, a Christmas tree, a sled, snow, etc. You may start a memory album with some of these pictures.
  • Watch all or part of a holiday classic movie, like, “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “White Christmas”.
  • Have some hot chocolate with marshmallows with a blanket thrown over your laps and just enjoy the moment of being together.

Beth Reigart, Clinical Outcomes Specialist