Navigating Mother’s Day when Mom has Dementia

  |     |   Senior Living

When your loved one has dementia, navigating holidays can seem overwhelming but it doesn't have to be. A little knowledge can go a long way in making your Mother's Day celebration meaningful, even if it looks a bit different than it did in the past.

It's normal to have the inclination to hold tight to the "way things have always been done." The first step is to give yourself permission to change things up. Holiday traditions may need to be adjusted, and being open to those changes is a gift of love in and of itself.

If your mom is overwhelmed by crowds or noise, you may need to change your traditional celebrations to be smaller and quieter. If you have a lot of family members who want to visit, stagger visiting times throughout the hours of the day that your mom is the most alert. Routines are often very helpful for people with dementia, so plan celebratory meals around her usual meal schedule. Breakfast or lunch may be a better choice than dinner, as people with dementia are often more lucid in the morning. Try to celebrate the relationship you have now, even though that relationship has changed.

You may find that Mother’s Day is a good opportunity to express appreciation on your mother’s behalf. A heartfelt note to caretakers, nurses, therapists, or close friends can be a new way to honor Mother’s Day if you are in a stage where typical celebrations are no longer viable.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide When Mom has Dementia:

● Comfortable, easy-to-wear clothing or robe
● A photo album or digital photo frame
● Strongly scented flowers (roses, lilacs, lilies)
● Perfume
● A new CD or easy-to-use music player
● Soft, textured blanket
● A favorite candy, treat, or meal

Avoid:
● Complicated games or electronic devices
● Recent memories (older memories are easier to access)
● Major disruptions to routine (try to plan meals around regular mealtimes)
● Focusing on the things your loved one no longer remembers or can no longer do

If you are the primary caretaker:

Holidays can be difficult for the loved ones of people living with dementia. Your loved one's needs matter, but so do your own. Don't be afraid to reach out to other family members, friends, and caretakers for extra support. They may be wondering how to celebrate but unsure of how to ask.

If Mom is the primary caretaker of another loved one with dementia:

Flowers and candy are nice, but often what caregivers really need is support. You might consider celebrating Mother’s Day by arranging for respite care. Respite is a short-term care option that can involve either an in-home respite worker or a short stay in a senior living community. Cogir Senior Living communities offer a respite care option that many families find helpful as both respite care and a trial run of an assisted living community. For more information, call the Cogir Senior Living community nearest you.

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