Celebrating Memorial Day with Loved Ones with Dementia

ince today is Memorial Day, we understand the desire to create meaningful and enjoyable experiences for your loved ones, even while navigating the challenges of dementia.

In this blog post, we will provide you with expert advice and practical tips to help you make the most of the holiday while you are on the journey keeping your parents with dementia safe. 

Let's dive in!

Understanding Dementia and its Challenges

Dealing with dementia can be emotionally and physically demanding, and holidays frequently amplify these challenges. It's important to remember that the experience of dementia differs from person to person, and adapting to their specific needs is crucial for a successful celebration. The better you know your loved one with dementia, the better you can cultivate just the right experience and still enjoy your Memorial Day. 

Recognizing Limitations and Setting Realistic Expectations

When planning for Memorial Day, it's essential to be mindful of your loved one's limitations. Dementia affects memory, cognition, and behavior, making it necessary to adjust your expectations accordingly. Embrace a flexible mindset and focus on creating a comfortable and enjoyable environment for everyone involved.

Creating a Familiar and Calming Environment

People with dementia thrive in familiar surroundings. When celebrating at home, ensure the environment is comforting and recognizable. Avoid excessive noise, bright lights, or chaotic setups that can cause confusion or distress. Simplify decorations, maintain consistent routines, and have familiar objects and photographs around to evoke positive memories.

Sometimes this may mean mom has less people visiting her at a given time, for example it may be necessary to have her in a room and then have 1 or 2 people visit her at a time, rotating and taking turns. 

Make sure to take photos’ though!

Planning the Day

Careful planning can help you make the most of the holiday and ensure a smooth experience for your loved ones. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Creating a Structured Schedule

Establishing a structured schedule for the day can help reduce anxiety and confusion for individuals with dementia. Outline the activities, meals, and rest periods, ensuring they align with their usual routine as much as possible. Be flexible and allow for breaks when needed.

Involving Your Loved One in Preparations

Including your parent with dementia in the preparations can enhance their sense of purpose and engagement. Assign simple tasks that match their abilities, such as setting the table or arranging flowers. This involvement not only fosters a feeling of contribution but also keeps them occupied and engaged.

Adjusting the Meal Plan

Considering your loved one's dietary restrictions and preferences is crucial when planning the Memorial Day meal. Keep the menu simple, focusing on their favorite dishes while ensuring the food is easy to eat and digest. Be mindful of any swallowing difficulties and consult a healthcare professional if necessary.

Communication and Engagement

Effective communication and meaningful engagement play a vital role in creating a positive atmosphere during the holiday. Here's how you can facilitate connection and interaction:

Using Simple and Clear Language

When communicating with someone with dementia, use simple and concise sentences. Speak slowly, maintain eye contact, and allow them enough time to process and respond. Avoid complex questions or abstract concepts that might cause confusion.

Engaging in Activities and Traditions

Engaging in familiar activities and traditions can evoke fond memories and create a sense of belonging. Play their favorite music, look at old photographs, or engage in activities they used to enjoy. Adapt these activities to their current abilities, ensuring they feel comfortable and included.

Encouraging Social Interaction

If you have other family members or close friends visiting for Memorial Day, encourage them to interact with your loved one. Inform them about their condition beforehand and provide guidance on how to approach and communicate effectively. Simple gestures of kindness and understanding can go a long way in making the day special for everyone involved.

Self-Care and Support

Caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally and physically draining. It's crucial to prioritize self-care to ensure you have the energy and patience to provide the best care for your loved one. Here are some self-care tips for you:

Seek Respite Care

Consider reaching out to respite care services or trusted family members and friends who can provide temporary relief. Taking short breaks during the day or having someone else take over caregiving duties for a few hours can give you the opportunity to recharge and attend to your own needs.

Connect with Support Groups

Joining a support group for caregivers of individuals with dementia can be immensely helpful. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can provide a sense of understanding, support, and valuable insights. Online support groups, such as those offered by the Alzheimer's Association, can be a convenient option.

Practice Stress-Relief Techniques

Engaging in stress-relief techniques can help you manage the challenges that come with caregiving. Consider incorporating activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or journaling into your daily routine. Taking care of your mental and emotional well-being is vital for your overall health.

Delegate and Accept Help

Don't be afraid to ask for help and delegate tasks to family members or friends. Sometimes, loved ones may genuinely want to assist you but are unsure of how to do so. Be open and specific about the areas where you could use support, whether it's meal preparation, running errands, or simply providing companionship.

Helpful Resources

In addition to the tips provided above, there are several websites and organizations that offer valuable information and resources to support you in caring for your loved ones with dementia during the holidays. Here are some helpful links:

Remember, reaching out for help and accessing reliable resources can make a significant difference in your caregiving journey. Don't hesitate to explore these websites and utilize the support available to you.


Today, on Memorial Day, we understand the desire to create meaningful experiences for your loved ones with dementia. By understanding the challenges of dementia, planning thoughtfully, and embracing effective communication techniques, you can navigate the holiday while ensuring the comfort and happiness of your parent. Remember to prioritize self-care and seek support from resources and organizations that specialize in dementia care. With dedication, love, and the right resources, you can create cherished memories and celebrate Memorial Day in a way that brings joy to both you and your loved ones.

Read More:

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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