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The Passover seder, lighting the menorah at Hanukkah, dipping apples in honey over Rosh Hashanah, listening to Grandpa’s melodious singing at the table, are among some of our most cherished memories of the holidays. But what are we to do when someone in our family is suffering from dementia and is no longer able to celebrate the Jewish holidays as he or she once did? How can we make sure that holidays remain meaningful and enjoyable, as well as safe, for the whole family?

Preparing your environment and proper scheduling are two very important factors in executing an enjoyable holiday experience for everyone.

If you’re bringing your loved one home, make sure it’s accessible and easy for them to navigate. Have all of you holiday dishes, cutlery, napkins, food ingredients out, and include them in the table setting, and/or in some of the food preparation. It’s also important to note the time of day that your loved one does better with, and schedule your celebration accordingly. A common symptom of dementia is being confused about what time of day it is, normally referred to as “sundowning”. Scheduling your celebration for the time of day when your loved one feels best is an important factor in making your holiday celebration a success for everyone. Also, designate someone in advance whose job it will be to act as caregiver, making sure that your loved one can take a rest or go to the bathroom when they need to.

If bringing your loved one to your home is not a feasible option, then bring the party to them. Many retirement homes have private rooms and/or spaces that families can have a celebration in. For your loved one, being in an environment that is familiar to them assures that you can celebrate as a family without the hyper stimulation or challenges they might experience outside of their home environment.

At One Kenton Place, we often have families celebrating birthday, holidays and other events right here in their loved one’s home environment. The result is always a happy resident, a happy family and a stress free celebration!

To see for yourself how One Kenton Place helps people live with dignity and respect in the face of Alzheimer’s and dementia, visit our photo gallery of daily life at www.onekentonplace.ca/gallery/

Ruth Dayan
Executive Director
One Kenton Place