So many things make up a Thanksgiving tradition: the delicious food, the old jokes, and of course, family. And while you know that your senior loved one is thankful for all of those things, there have also been some changes in their life over the years. In particular, it may be tough to remember or recall things as well as they did before they aged and started experiencing dementia.

Getting your elderly loved one involved in holiday traditions is a great way to help them still feel included. While they may not remember everything in their past, it’s important that they don’t feel like they are being pushed aside because of their condition. So how can you make Thanksgiving fun for a senior at assisted living for Alzheimer’s patients? Here are 10 ways to help ensure your senior loved one with dementia enjoys the Thanksgiving event.


1.) Identify a Quiet Place

It’s important that your loved one with dementia has a quiet place to be alone. They may like to have their own room, but keep in mind that they may feel a little lonely doing this. You can also show them pictures of other seniors without dementia and explain that you don’t want them to feel left out. If they’re in a senior living community, then you might have to take them to the activities room, which can be a bit noisy, but it’s better than being alone with their thoughts. And when you return after the holiday, remind them that they are blessed and happy.


2.) Let Your Loved One Plan

If your loved one has a good sense of humor, then you could ask him or her to help you set up decorations. It could be a fun bonding experience for you both and he or she might also like the chance to decorate the house for Christmas as well. If your loved one is more social, then you should ask him or her to plan part of the meal too. Keep in mind that it can get messy with turkey cooking and all of the fixings, so you should spread out tasks over a few days.


3.) Forget the Pressure

It’s not the same as it was back when your loved one was younger and able to remember things like this. And even if you’ve made plenty of yummy food, don’t expect him or her to eat everything that you have to offer. Your senior with dementia might just have a few bites for the taste, or he or she might not eat at all. No matter what, make sure that your loved one feels loved and cared for.


4.) Be Flexible

If your senior loved one wants to nap, then let them. If he or she’s not feeling up to the usual jokes and stories, then go with it. And if your loved one is more excited about watching football or a favorite show on tv, then join them! Being flexible is the key to curbing anxious feelings. Your loved one won’t always be this way, so don’t miss out on the chance to spend some great moments with them.


5.) Do it Earlier in the Day

This will depend on the time of year and the amount of time your senior loved one in assisted living for Alzheimer’s patients has to do things. If you hold an event at night, then don’t expect a full meal to be eaten. And if your loved one doesn’t want to go out during the day but would enjoy some company, then it’s better than having no guests at all.


6.) Go With the Flow

We all need to make accommodations for our loved ones, and dementia is no exception. Your loved one may enjoy a little quiet time in their room, but it’s not going to be very nice for you. Take them out for a walk or go to the mall with them. If you’re having people over for a party, let your loved one set the table or run other mundane tasks around the house. And if you or your relatives want to give your loved one a little privacy, don’t take it personally.

A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream


7.) Plan Ahead

I’m not suggesting that you organize every single detail of this event day in advance, but simply planning ahead can make a big difference. When you are making your plans, including the special items or activities that your senior liked when he or she was younger, make sure that there’s fresh food for the event.


8.) Include Music

There’s nothing like a good song to lift your spirits and get you in the holiday mood. If your loved one wants to sing, dance, or even hum, then sing along with them. Whatever they feel like doing, really! You don’t have to do anything fancy. Simply listen to the song that fits the mood and tone of the day. Don’t make them stop for pictures or kisses, but encourage them to sing at the top of their lungs!


9.) Keep it Short but Sweet

Don’t try to do too much in one day or even over the course of the entire holiday season. The point is to enjoy each day and don’t try to make up for lost time by having an overly busy schedule. Have a lot of quality time with your loved one, and don’t try to push through the hours as if you have another hundred to spare.


10.) Try Not to Make it Heavy

If you’re feeling sad about the changes that your senior loved one is experiencing, then it can be tough not to make things more difficult than they need to be. But remember that life is full of changes and challenges, and there’s no need to take advantage of this situation just because it feels like too much to deal with.


Thanksgiving at Sabal Palms

Thanksgiving is a great day to share with your senior loved one living in assisted living for Alzheimer’s patients, but it’s important that you take things slow. Letting them be in control of some of the details can be a way for them (and you) to stay active despite any confusion or dementia going on. You can do many things to help make the holidays enjoyable for your loved one with dementia. Try some of these tips and have a wonderful time together

At Sabal Palms assisted living for Alzheimer’s patients, you will find the tastiest and healthiest meals imaginable – and our Thanksgiving menu is a step up from that! After all, it’s easier to stay healthy with the right motivation. 

Here at Sabal Palms, we prioritize healthy meals because we measure success based on the Wellness and Happiness factors. You can learn more about these factors and what they mean on our website.