Iryna Ishchenko

DECEMBER 08, 2023

Ep#35: To bring or not to bring?

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The holiday season holds a special place in many people’s hearts. It’s a time for families to come together, share stories, and create cherished memories. However, for caregivers of elder family members with dementia, the decision of whether to bring their loved ones to holiday events can be overwhelming. In this blog post, we will delve into the complexities of this decision-making process and offer guidance on navigating the holidays with compassion and sensitivity.

Understanding the Challenges

The first step in making this decision is to fully understand the challenges faced by elder family members with dementia. The change in routine and environment can often lead to confusion, agitation, and a decline in cognitive functions. It’s important to recognize that most individuals with dementia do not fare well with sudden changes, and the holiday festivities can potentially overwhelm them. As caregivers, it’s crucial to take these factors into consideration when contemplating whether to bring our loved ones to such events.

Assessing the Best Interests

When contemplating whether to bring a family member with dementia to a holiday event, it’s essential to assess the driving force behind this decision. Often, decisions are rooted in family traditions and the desire to keep the entire family together. However, it’s paramount to prioritize the best interests of the individual with dementia over nostalgia or traditional customs. The decision should be based on what would be beneficial for the person with dementia rather than solely on recreating past experiences.

Careful Planning and Consideration

Planning for the visit requires careful consideration of various factors. It’s crucial to evaluate whether the elder family member is equipped to handle the journey, the unfamiliar environment, and the duration of the event. Additionally, having a well-thought-out plan for their return to their place of residence is essential. Planning for their comfort and managing potential distress post-event is equally important. Anticipating the adjustments needed to ensure their enjoyment and well-being during the gathering is crucial for their overall experience.

Adapting to Present Needs

It’s vital to acknowledge that the needs and preferences of individuals with dementia are constantly evolving. What once brought them joy may now cause distress or discomfort. This adaptive nature calls for flexibility in holiday traditions and activities. Caregivers should pay attention to their loved one’s body language and expressions, looking for cues that indicate enjoyment or discomfort. Being open to creating new traditions that align with their current needs is a compassionate approach to fostering a positive holiday experience for everyone involved.

Caring for Yourself

Amidst the decision-making process and the intricacies of navigating the holidays with a family member with dementia, it’s important for caregivers to prioritize their own well-being. Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma is essential. Self-care and self-compassion are vital aspects of caring for a loved one with dementia during the holiday season. Allowing oneself the space to adapt and make decisions that align with personal capabilities while accommodating the needs of the family member with dementia is crucial for maintaining emotional well-being.

Embracing Support

The holiday season can be emotionally taxing, especially for caregivers who may be facing their first holiday without a loved one. It’s imperative to remember that reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness but rather an act of strength. Surrounding oneself with a supportive community and seeking guidance from experts can provide much-needed assistance in navigating the complexities of caring for a family member with dementia during the holidays.


The decision of whether to bring a family member with dementia to a holiday event is a deeply personal one. It requires a thoughtful and empathetic approach that prioritizes the well-being and comfort of the individual with dementia. Careful planning, adaptability, and self-compassion are key elements in creating a positive holiday experience for both the caregiver and the family member with dementia. Above all, remembering that seeking support and allowing oneself the space to make decisions with care and compassion is instrumental in navigating the holiday season with grace and sensitivity.

Hi, I am Iryna

If you are taking care of your aging parents with dementia there is no person better than me to stop feeling guilty and get your life back

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