It's Mother’s Day, and with women accounting for two-thirds of all Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering five tips to celebrate Mother’s Day with someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia-related illness.
“Mother’s Day is a time to honor the special mother figures in your life, and if your loved one lives with dementia, it can continue to be special with a few adaptations,” said Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, AFA’s director of Educational and Social Services. “Following a few steps can help you celebrate your special person and the bond you share in a dementia-friendly manner.”
Here are some ideas for families impacted by dementia to celebrate Mother’s Day:
- Reminisce together. Familiar faces and old photos can bring joy and comfort to someone living with dementia, even if the person can’t remember the names. Look at old photos together and describe them for your loved one as you go through them—who the people are, what the occasion was, etc. Avoid asking questions like, “do you remember?” as that can make someone living with a memory disorder feel embarrassed or ashamed.
- Adapt old favorites. Dementia-related illnesses can impact a person’s ability to do things as they previously did, so it’s important to be adaptable. If the person loved going to a certain restaurant but no longer can, order-in food from that establishment instead. If they enjoyed playing a musical instrument but can’t anymore, listen to their favorite music with them.
- Create new memories. Quality time together is one of the best Mother’s Day gifts anyone can give. When planning activities, take a strengths-based and person-centered approach and incorporate what the person can do and what they choose to do now, rather than dwelling on what they used to do. Focus on those things that bring joy and let go of activities that seem too stressful.
- Flowers are a gift with therapeutic benefits. Flowers are a very popular Mother’s Day gift, and they can be especially good for someone living with dementia; the scent can help improve mood, promote positive feelings and stimulate the brain. Purchase a bouquet of fresh flowers, set it on a table and enjoy the fragrances together.
- Make your own Mother’s Day card. Write a Mother’s Day card and read it out loud to your loved one. Even if they can no longer grasp the full meaning, the act of writing it and communicating your love can help lift your own spirits.
AFA’s Helpline, staffed entirely by licensed social workers who are specifically trained in dementia care, can provide additional information and support for families. The Helpline is available seven days a week by phone (866-232-8484), text message (646-586-5283) and web chat (alzfdn.org).