If one of your loved ones suffers from dementia, there are many things you can do to make sure that they enjoy Christmas this year - and that it’s not too stressful for anyone in the family.

TV presenter Ruth Langford recently spoke to Irish News about how to have a dementia-friendly Christmas, sharing her own experiences of helping her father live with dementia for over ten years.

She explained that Christmas changed “dramatically” during her father’s 13 years with dementia. “The thing that got us through was learning to adjust and making sure we listened to what Dad needed, so we could all enjoy the day as much as possible,” she said.

Ms Langford went on to share the tips she’d picked up over the years, noting that making your loved one with dementia as comfortable as possible will mean that everyone has a more enjoyable time on 25 December.

Her first piece of advice is to make sure that everyone, including the person with dementia, feels involved in the day. This may mean giving them a really small job, like hanging a bauble on the tree, but the point is just to include them in the day’s activities.

Another of her top tips is to avoid straying too much from the person’s daily routine. This can be unsettling for someone with dementia, so try to keep things as normal as possible for as much of the festive season as you can.

Ms Langford also recommended checking that you have enough of their prescription medication to see you through the Christmas period.

When it comes to decorating, it might be tempting to put all your Christmas decorations up in the course of one day, but this too can be disturbing to someone with dementia. Instead, add decorations around the home gradually so that it’s not such an abrupt change to their living environment.

If your loved one was always in the kitchen helping prepare the festive feast, try to allow them to stay involved in this. They might not be able to do it all any more, but allowing them to do some of the cooking will help them feel part of the day.

Another piece of advice from Ms Langford is to be flexible in how you approach Christmas celebrations. “It’s important to embrace your loved one’s world, and it’s always worth having a plan ‘B’. Be prepared to change your plans if something isn’t working,” she said.

The Alzheimer’s Society also has some great advice about how to help your loved one with dementia to enjoy and adjust to the festive season.

If your loved one is in a care home and you have a regular routine of visiting established, the charity recommends talking to the care home staff about what will be going on over Christmas so that you can plan for any disruption to your usual routine.

To read more about our dementia services, click here. We also have two specialist dementia care homes: Haviland House and Linfield House.

You can also get in touch with our friendly Customer Service Team on 01903 327327 or [email protected].