The holidays can be a delightful time for sharing cherished memories and forging new ones. However, holiday meals can also be difficult or stressful if you are learning how to accommodate loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Of course you want all of your guests to be as comfortable as possible, but it could be hard to know how to best suit their unique needs at the family dinner table.

Fortunately, the dietitians at Cedar Haven Healthcare Center assembled this list of valuable tips to ensure that your Thanksgiving dinner is an enjoyable one!

1. Prepare guests in advance.

If they have not seen your loved one in awhile, inform your guests of notable changes so they are prepared. Do not use a family gathering as a memory test for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Do not say “don’t you remember Greg?” Just introduce family members by saying something like, “This is Greg; one of your grandchildren.” A memory test will just embarrass and agitate your loved one.

2. Invite your guests to participate.

If your loved one is capable of completing simple food preparations, have them involved in making the meal. Your loved one may be capable of putting rolls into baskets, stirring, and taste testing.

3. Stick to your guest’s normal schedule if possible.

If you are able, keep to your loved one’s normal schedule by eating at the same time of the day. If your family member experiences “sun downing” syndrome, an early meal may be more enjoyable.

4. Avoid overwhelming background noise.

During the meal, it is helpful to maintain an overall quiet environment. Turn off the TV and avoid loud music. If your loved one can not tolerate energetic children, be sure to sit them by understanding adult guests.

5. Keep it simple but fun and festive.

For your loved one with Alzheimer’s, keep the food choices and table setting simple. Use only necessary utensils, like a spork, to avoid embarrassment if he or she can not remember which utensils to use. Keep finger foods on hand in case your loved one does not remember how to use utensils. Prepare guest in advances if your loved one does frequently use their fingers to eat. Have pretty napkins to use as a clothing protector if food spillage is a concern. Avoid blinking lights and candles as decorations.

Interested in learning more about dining services at Cedar Haven? View our photo gallery for a peek at some of favorite meals and reach out with any questions you may have on our contact page.

From all of us at Cedar Haven, we wish you all a happy and healthy holiday with your loved ones.

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