Fostering a Failure Free Holiday

This month, we sat down with Our Family Home’s Marybeth Cartmille to talk about preparing for the holidays. She shared with us a few ways families affected by memory disease can make small shifts to reduce stress and focus more of your time on creating meaningful memories with those you love.

Savoring Meaningful Moments

Overall, Marybeth offers two important pieces of advice for families: First, have a plan. There’s a lot going on over the holidays, so it’s important to plan ahead. This gives you time to think about how to adapt activities and social gatherings with your loved one in mind.

Secondly, she encourages families to focus on the little moments. While certain traditions or activities may no longer be feasible, you can still find special ways to connect and create memories. Look for the little things and enjoy those.

In November, Marybeth will be co-presenting on Failure Free Holidays and gave us a sneak peek at a few of the tips they will discuss.

  1. Prepare yourself for a change of plans. Individuals with memory disease can get overwhelmed or disoriented easily, so it’s important to be open-minded about changing plans. Marybeth suggests keeping outings brief, focusing on smaller gatherings or encouraging one-on-one visits. She also recommends catering around their best time of day. “Rather than Christmas dinner, it might be better to do brunch or a lunch-time meal,” she added.
  2. Be open to new traditions. While it can be hard to let go of a long-standing tradition, it’s important to also consider new ones. Or try modifying existing ones. Decorate store bought cookies if baking them from scratch is too overwhelming. Drive around to look at decorations rather than putting up your own. Marybeth also suggests prioritizing traditions. Pick one or two that have the most meaning to you and focus on those.
  3. Provide updates to family and friends. Marybeth recommends providing updates to family or friends before they visit. Be open about where they are with the disease and honest about what your loved one can and cannot do or that certain behaviors aren’t uncommon. A lot can change in a short amount of time and these small updates can have significant impact on how well the visit goes.
  4. Set realistic expectations. A loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not be able to participate in activities that they once adored and they may only be able to hold their attention on a task for a short time. “I encourage people to consider breaking things down into smaller tasks. At Our Family Home, we know our residents love to help make cookies. We try to keep them engaged by breaking the project down into specific tasks and giving them really specific things to do,” adds Marybeth.
  5. Focus on the process not the outcome. Spending time with residents and going through the Alzheimer’s journey with her own father-in-law, Marybeth emphasizes this advice, “Don’t allow yourself to worry about the end result. Enjoy the small moments and joy of doing a project together and focus less on what it will look like in the end. It’s the time together that counts.”

If you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia or know someone who does, we hope you will also consider joining us on November 19 from 5:30 – 7 p.m., as we partner with Buckeye Family Home Care and Vitas Healthcare to host a workshop on Failure Free Holidays. Workshop details and registration information can be found here.

Meet Marybeth

Employee Spotlight: Marybeth Cartmille
Director of Marketing & Admissions


What do you do for Our Family Home?

I am the Director of Marketing and Admissions for Our Family Home. I am responsible for admissions and marketing and am often the first contact with families. I also focus on memory disease education, host respite groups and workshops for individuals affected by memory disease and help with community engagement.

How long have you worked with Our Family Home?

I’ve been with Our Family Home for five years.


What do you like most about your work?

The people. From our families to our caregivers, I value the relationships I’ve built over the years with our families and with our team. I also enjoy that every day is different and every day I learn something new from our residents.


What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy going to the beach, spending time with my family and friends, cooking and reading. Marybeth also just got a new German Shepherd puppy named Dakota. Her four cats, Oliver, Lola, Callie and Mia are adjusting to their new “sibling”.


Have you been affected personally by Alzheimer’s or dementia?

Yes. My father-in-law had Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve been in this field for more than 10 years and was aware of how this disease affects people, but it was still very hard for me. I think the most difficult part was that he couldn’t appreciate the amazing people our kids were becoming as adults because of the disease.


What have you learned working with residents of Our Family Home?

I’ve learned that no matter where a resident is in the disease process, they can still teach us something new every day. They also show me joy. Even though the dementia has taken their memory, they still experience joy and they still share their joy. Whether it’s a hug or a complement, they’re still giving us their love every day and we do the same.


How does it mean to give residents and families more good days?

Our amazing staff! We believe in giving our caregivers the tools to be successful. When they have the right training and the right resources, they are better able to give our residents more good days. We empower our staff and provide a therapeutic environment.

We also have a knowledgeable and experienced clinical team, which is a foundation of our success. Our team is able to help determine what our residents might need, and they help our caregivers understand what to expect if a resident has a change in medication or a shift in behavior.

Taking the time to get know our residents and our families gives them more good days, but taking time to know what makes them happy gives them joy.