Celebrating Mother’s Day … when your mother has dementia
As you think about the many Mother’s Days you celebrated growing up, maybe you remember the burnt pancakes and spilled orange juice you served her in bed, the bouquets of wildflowers you picked, or the elaborate, lacey cards you made her. If your mother has dementia, it might be hard to imagine how to celebrate this Mother’s Day, when things have changed so much.
It’s important—as much for you as for her—to keep these traditions alive. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has some ideas that can help you honor her in a way that respects her condition, brings her comfort, and makes her happy.
Reminisce together. Familiar faces and old photos can bring joy and comfort to someone living with dementia, even if she can’t remember the names. Look at old photos together and describe them for 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 her feel embarrassed or ashamed.
Adapt old favorites. Dementia-related illnesses can impact your mother’s ability to do things as she previously did, so it’s important to be adaptable. If she loved going to a certain restaurant but no longer can, order in food from that place instead. If she enjoyed playing a musical instrument but can’t anymore, listen to her favorite music together.
Create new memories. Quality time together is one of the best Mother’s Day gifts anyone can give. When planning activities, focus on what she is able to do now, versus dwelling on what she 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 colors and fragrances together.
Make your own Mother’s Day card. Write a Mother’s Day card and read it out loud to her. Even if she can no longer grasp the full meaning, the act of writing it and communicating your love can help lift her spirits, and your own as well. # # #