When Mom Has Alzheimer’s: How to Celebrate Mother’s Day
"Mom doesn’t know who I am, much less what day it is.” Sarah wailed. “I am thinking I might just skip Mother’s Day this year. I mean really, what could I get her anyway?”
If your Mom has mid to late stage Alzheimer’s chances are you feel this way sometimes. What’s the point, right? Then, like most caregivers you probably feel guilty for thinking that way. After all it’s not her fault and you do still love her. But oh, how difficult this disease can be, pulling on your heartstrings this way.
So How Do You Celebrate? And What Can You Give Someone With Alzheimer’s?
This is a question I hear a lot. Start with, what did she like to do when she was younger? Did she like to draw or paint? Did she like baking and cooking? Try to see if you can figure an activity that would be similar to what she used to love to do.
The "sense of touch" is still very strong for moderate and even late level Alzheimer’s clients. As such there are a number of things you can get and activities you can do that will make mom feel special this Mother’s Day. Here are a few ideas.
Very popular right now, these books come in all levels. The felt tip pens seem to work well for an older person who may not have a lot of strength in their hands. Don’t just hand her the book and colors though. Make this a time to connect with one another. Have a book for each of you and sit down together.
Lavender Scented Sensory Play Dough
It feels really good in the hands and you can even make your own. Here is a recipe. This is simple to make. Lavender essential oils have long been used for their calming effects. You can also try different essential oils and make the play dough in several different colors and scents. Bring the grand kids over for this visit with Mom. The whole family can have fun rolling and cutting out shapes with cookie cutters.
Baking Cookies Together
Baking cookies or making candy is another fun activity. If Mom loved to bake in her younger years she will enjoy doing it again. Let her roll the dough out or form the cookie balls in her hands. Let her help to decorate and don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. This is about having fun together.
Mom Loves Ice Cream. Why Not Have an Ice Cream Sundae Party?
If she is living in memory care home bring all the fixins and get mom and a few others involved. If she lives at home, invite the family over for the party. Everyone should bring an item to contribute to the sundae. Make sure you do not invite too many people and overwhelm Mom. And make sure those coming understand how to best communicate with mom to make her day really special.
A Corsage And Dance
Bring mom a beautiful corsage for Mother’s Day. Chances are she will remember a special day in her life when she received a corsage (perhaps from your dad) and went to a special dance. Ask her to tell you about the dance she attended. Play some music that she listened to as a young lady. Her son or grandson could invite her to dance.
But What About When You Live Far Away?
When you live far away it can be difficult. You want to be there but sometimes it is just not possible. Don't beat yourself up over it!
There Are A Lot Of Gifts That Will Make Mom’s Day Special.
The usual flowers and candy are still loved and appreciated. A lot of people with Alzheimer’s have a real sweet tooth. Other ideas include:
A Soft Blanket or Robe
A Twiddle Muff
Even if she is unable to respond back to you it is important to call. Make the call short and sweet but let mom know you love her and are thinking about her. There is a still a part of her that knows you. She may not be able to put all of the pieces together and respond the way you would like her to. But remember she is still inside and still loves you.
Remember The Ones Caring For Mom
When you are far away it is important to remember the people, who are making sure Mom is well cared for. This includes both family and paid caregivers. Send a gift to show your appreciation. It doesn't have to be anything spectacular or expensive. Sending mom candy? Send a box for the caregivers also.
Mom May Not Remember You
Even though Mom didn’t always know that Jenny was her daughter Jenny began to notice something interesting. Jenny began to observe how her mother reacted to Jenny's emotions.
She may not even know where she is or what year. But she can still sense emotion. If you are stressed and anxious, there is a good chance that feeling will spread to your mother. She will pick up on your emotions and those of others around her.
Likewise, it there is a party going on. If you come in all excited with a beautiful corsage for her to wear and you are smiling Mom will pick up on that. She may not understand that the corsage is because she is your mother. She may not realize what day it is. But she will pick up on the feelings of happiness and joy around her.
If something has already set a negative emotion in play when you arrive, it’s okay to reschedule. The party or activity you so carefully planned does not have to happen today. The beauty of this disease is that you can celebrate Mother’s Day another time. Remember this is not about you!
*Happy Mother’s Day from Memory Matters Utah/Nevada!*