Portrait of a smiling senior couple dressed in party hats and wearing novelty glasses drinking champagne while celebrating New Year’s Eve at home

New Year’s Eve is a joyous time, filled with warmth and nostalgia for another year passed, as well as hope and excitement for the upcoming year. Yet, knowing what sort of family traditions you can continue when celebrating with your loved one who lives with dementia can be challenging. While there are some considerations to keep in mind, there are still plenty of activities they can participate in to make this New Year’s Eve a memorable one. Here are six ways to include your loved one in your year-end celebration.

Have Fun at Their Place

It is completely normal to want to bring your loved one home with you. But change can be difficult for someone living with a memory loss illness. It might be better to take the festivities to them where they can celebrate in familiar surroundings with family and friends.

Decorate their home. Play music. Bring board games to keep everyone engaged throughout the night. The happy memories you forge together in their home will make it even more comfortable for them.

Listen to Familiar Music

Music can be a powerful tool to help your loved one connect on an emotional level. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends choosing music that will be both familiar and enjoyable. In particular, songs from their childhood are often deeply rooted in their memory and will be like hearing from an old friend.

Avoid using the radio or streaming services that include commercials – these interruptions may be jarring and can lead to confusion for someone with dementia. Consider putting together a playlist or picking up a CD ahead of time. Selecting songs that they can sing or clap along to will enhance the experience. You can even encourage them to pick the music.

Bake or Cook Their Favorite Dish

Was there something your loved one always had to have around during the holidays? Preparing a dish they’ve always enjoyed shows you were thinking about them and lets them know how much you appreciate their company. If your loved one feels comfortable doing so, they could even join you in the kitchen. Making a traditional meal together on New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to turn the ordinary into something truly special.

Make Crafts and Decorate
Nothing gets everyone in the mood to celebrate more than festive ornamentation – especially homemade crafts and decorations. Why not get your loved one in the New Year’s spirit by putting together an arts and crafts session.

Making party hats is a simple activity that requires little more than paper, glue, and glitter, and it’s something that signals to everyone that you’re there to have fun. You might just want to precut the paper beforehand. Once the hats are all finished, tear apart the scrap paper to make some confetti. You could also consider purchasing themed balloons or napkins and plates to set out together.

Reflect on Good Times by Fireside

A relaxing evening reminiscing by the fire can be an enjoyable activity to welcome the New Year. Ask your loved one about years gone by, such as questions regarding a family vacation or one of their great accomplishments in life. Looking at a photo album may help the memories come flooding back. When the time comes, you can kick back and do the countdown together.

End Things Early

Even after carefully mapping out your day together, your loved one might want to end the celebrations earlier than anticipated – and that’s OK. Be on the lookout for cues they may give and do honor their request if they let you know directly that they want to go home. Though it may inconvenience you or hurt your feelings, don’t let that get in the way of the good times you had together that day.