Honoring Mother’s Day When Mom Has Alzheimer’s
Celebrating Mother’s Day, like other holidays, can be challenging when mom is living with Alzheimer’s. On these kinds of special occasions, a person with Alzheimer’s may feel a sense of loss because of the changes being experienced as a result of the disease. At the same time, caregivers and other family members may struggle with figuring out how to celebrate Mother’s Day with someone living with dementia.
Mother’s Day can remain a meaningful and enjoyable occasion for families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Planning will take more thought and each family’s unique circumstances will need to be taken into consideration.
“How families ultimately choose to celebrate the occasion will greatly depend on the stage of the disease the person is in,” says Teri Miller, Early Stage Programs Manager with the Alzheimer’s Association Houston and Southeast Texas Chapter. “In the early stage of the disease, a person with Alzheimer’s may experience minor changes. Some may withdraw and be less comfortable socializing, while others may really enjoy seeing family and friends. As the disease progresses into the moderate and severe stages, the person will require a greater level of care. They may have a more difficult time communicating, become more-easily frustrated or angry, or may act out in unexpected ways.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers families several tips for celebrating Mother’s Day when mom is living with Alzheimer’s disease:
- Take a person-centered approach. Focus on what is enjoyable for the person with Alzheimer’s, such as looking at family pictures or enjoying the person’s favorite food. If they get overwhelmed in large groups, a small quiet gathering may be preferable.
- Keep it simple. Consider a celebration over a lunch or brunch at home or where the person is most comfortable. Ask family or friends to bring dishes for a potluck meal or have food delivered by a local restaurant or grocery store.
- Join In. If the person with Alzheimer’s lives in a care facility, consider joining in any facility-planned activities.
- Don’t overdo it. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the day from becoming disruptive or confusing.Depending on the person’s stamina, plan time for breaks so the person can rest in a quiet area away from noise and crowds.
- Adapt Gift Giving. Encourage safe and useful gifts for the person with Alzheimer’s. Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Ideas include: an identification bracelet, comfortable clothing, favorite foods and photo albums.
- Educate yourself/find support. Learn more about Alzheimer’s in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center at org/care. There you can also find more tips on supporting a family member with Alzheimer’s, join the ALZConnected online community, and find more information about your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter services and programs.
Miller says, “If you need additional support this Mother’s Day, please visit our Alzheimer’s Caregiver Center at alz.org/care or please call our Helpline anytime, day or night, at 800.272.3900.”
About the Alzheimer’s Association®
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org® or call 800.272.3900.
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