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Dear Miriam,

My mother has dementia. She lives with my wife, our kids, and me and she’s doing well, all things considered. This is our first holiday since mom’s diagnosis. The problem is that I’m having our extended family over for the holidays and some of my siblings don’t understand how bad mom’s dementia is. They get frustrated when she repeats herself or doesn’t remember their names. I love having a full house this time of year, but what can I do to make it easier for mom, my family, and myself this year?


Hi Sarah,

The first holiday after diagnosis can be hard for some people, and I’m so happy to hear that you’re still continuing this tradition that you love so much. (Yay for that self-care!)

Here are some things that can help make things easier for everyone:

  • Know that it’s going to be different this year and give yourself permission not to compare it to previous years.
  • Your mom might get overwhelmed or not be as energetic as she was in previous years. Gauge how she’s doing and provide breaks for her if she needs them. Maintaining her regular routine can be helpful, too.
  • Start video-calling some of your extended family now so they can begin to get used to mom’s new normal. You might also want to send an email with some information about things to know that will help mom. Our website has some caregiver tip sheets that might be helpful for your family.
  • Enlist your wife & kids to help. They can help break some of the tension by saying things like “Oh, grandma doesn’t remember me, either. It’s just the disease.”

Our Helpline is also available, so if you get overwhelmed or need some more support, call us: 844-435-7259.