Religious festivals like Diwali are typically a time for family, feasting, dancing and celebration. However it can be difficult to know how to support a loved one with dementia.
Diwali is celebrated over five days, and this year the main celebration falls on Sunday 12 November. Keeping a few things in mind when organising gatherings or celebrations can help everyone to feel included and enjoy the occasion.
Five simple tips for a dementia-friendly Diwali
1. Create a 'quiet room'
Having a house full of people can be overwhelming for someone with dementia. Noises from loud music, fireworks and multiple conversations can be confusing, and may cause anxiety.
A ‘quiet room’ or space to spend quality time with family members includes them in the celebrations in a calmer way.
2. Plan some Diwali themed activities
Think of the ways the person may have celebrated Diwali in the past and ask them if there is anything they might like to do to celebrate this year. Share photo albums, music and songs that conjure up special memories for them.
3. Celebratory food and drink
People with dementia may need gentle reminders to eat and drink, particularly if there are other distractions. Think about a small finger buffet of their favourite treats, as a large plate of food can be daunting for a person living with dementia.
4. Decorating for Diwali
If you are planning to decorate or to move things around for Diwali, try to introduce any changes gradually.
Dementia can affect a person’s visual perception, so try to keep your home brightly lit and use good colour contrast. Avoid patterns that might be misunderstood – for example pictures of fruit might be mistaken for actual fruit, and other patterns might be confusing to a person living with dementia.
5. Seek out support
Everyone experiences dementia differently and what works for one person might not work for someone else. Whoever you are and whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for confidential support and advice all year round.
This article was first published in 2018 and updated in October 2023.
Dementia information in Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ)
Learn more about dementia in our Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) resources (in Gurmukhi script).