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  • Posted May 11, 2024

Tips to Celebrating Mom on Her Day, Even When Dementia Intervenes

Women account for two-thirds of all Americans living with Alzheimer's disease, which means this Mother's Day will be bittersweet for many families across the nation.

“Mother's Day is all about honoring the mother figures in our lives who loved, nurtured, and supported us,” Jennifer Reeder, director of educational and social services for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, said in a news release.

To that end, the AFA is offering a few tips to help families and loved ones honor the special women in their lives.

“If a special woman in your life lives with dementia, taking a few small steps will go a long way to help her feel the love and appreciation she deserves on Mother's Day,” Reeder said. “Making a few minor adaptations can help celebrate the bond you share with your loved one in a dementia-friendly manner.”

The AFA's tips include:

Make a personal Mother's Day card. Write out a card and read it aloud to your loved one. Even if they can no longer grasp its full meaning, the act of writing and sharing it can be an uplifting experience.

Create new memories. Plan some quality time together, making sure to focus on what the person is capable of doing now and what they choose to do. Choose pleasurable activities, and be sure to avoid things that might cause her stress.

Reminisce together. Familiar faces and old photos can bring joy and comfort to someone with dementia, even if she can't remember names or specifics. It's a good way to connect and evoke positive memories, but be patient and attentive. Look at old photos and describe them for your loved one, and listen to the stories and memories that the pics might evoke from them. Validate their feelings and experiences, even if they aren't what you remember, because this can reinforce the feeling of being heard and understood.

Adapt favorite activities. Treat your loved one to something they enjoy, even if things have to be changed a bit. If they loved going to a certain restaurant, order takeout and have a feast at home. If they love cooking, focus on simple tasks like mixing ingredients rather than following an elaborate recipe. Be flexible, patient and creative, and simplify complex activities into manageable steps you both can enjoy.

Give her flowers. Flowers are a traditional Mother's Day gift, and they can be very beneficial for a woman with dementia. Fresh flowers tend to have a calming effect that reduces agitation and stress, and their scent can boost her mood and stimulate her mind. Set the bouquet on a table and enjoy them together.

More information

Pennsylvania State University has more on meaningfully engaging with dementia patients.

SOURCE: Alzheimer's Foundation of America, news release

What This Means to You:

When honoring a woman with dementia on Mother's Day, be patient and kind and try to plan activities that are simple and enjoyable.

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