Looking around the Internet to see what folks are saying about us, we discovered a wonderful blog that had ‘reprinted’ our Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother Article. The author included some great additions on long distance caregiver that bear ‘re-reprinting’.
As our family deals with the decline of my husband’s mother, I thought this was good article to share and wanted to add a few thoughts.
These tips below are excellent, but for those of us who live at some distance from our elderly relatives, it is often not so simple to think of things to do. This year we sent off a box of goodies well in advance and of course, we call often, though at times the conversations are frustrating and sometimes make us quite sad. I have found that as memory and cognitive functions decline, it is a good idea to make changes in the types of gifts we give or send. Some people still enjoy the same things they always liked, such as books or candy and flowers. Often though, elders stop reading due to vision problems, inability to remember things or disinterest. You may worry they will choke on some goodies you buy if they have swallowing issues, and when they admire your flowers for a minute, set them aside and don’t look at them again, you feel frustrated or perhaps that your expensive flowers are wasted.
One nice idea is to make a CD of old beloved songs, either that you sing or that you download from the Internet. If your parents have caregivers, you can find out if there is a CD player and if the caregivers will play the music, or you can send a CD player with instructions for the caregivers.
If you are not able to be present to go through old family photos together, how about making a few copies of old prints or sorting through some you have and sending them with labels or cute captions? You might choose group photos . My mother-in-law keeps asking for an enlargement of a photo of my husband, even though she has many pictures that just sit in boxes and drawers. She wants a big portrait.
If phone calls become stressful for you and there is a lot of agitation, crying and repetition, keep the calls short and make them more frequently. Keep a small “idea-catcher” box or pad by your phone on which you write down some brief memories or simple events that have happened to you or to other family members in the last few days, so you will have something to talk about . This can help minimize your stress and your elder’s, as they sometimes get caught up in cycles of complaining and they get stuck and don’t know how to stop. My mother-in-law, for example, asks repeatedly for our phone number while speaking to us, though we have made large lists of important numbers, have put them up in obvious places on the wall and mirror, and have taped them to her telephone stand by her favorite chair and to her walker seat. That is not to say you should not listen to their concerns, validate their feelings and offer to help with things when you are able, but when you find them obsessing, then it is helpful to have a small advance list of more pleasant things to discuss and to aid you in diverting them a bit.
Be as reassuring as you can. Sometimes you will need to remind and to reorient. This is probably hard on you emotionally but it is often helpful. Don’t give a lot of choices, just as you would not give a small child too many, as this can be overwhelming, but at the same time, try not to treat your parent like a child. Even someone with moderate dementia can sense his or her own decline and your disrespect, or what they interpret as disrespect.
If you can’t personally make a cake or cupcake or sing a song, is there someone near your parent whom you can enlist to do it? It does take extra effort to do such things but the pleasure it brings to you and to your parent will make it worthwhile. How about calling and singing a favorite song, even if it is quite off-key? Just be sure to identify yourself clearly before you begin
Living with Alzheimer’s – Celebrating your Mother
Many times, we get so caught up in purchasing the perfect gift, as with most holidays, we forget that Mother’s Day should be about celebrating and honoring your mother. As a result, we at Elder Depot decided to focus some time on creating a small list to help you bring some happiness to your mother’s life and create a memory together. And the best part is that the items in this list will not cost you any money!
Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy. The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time out to show that you cared.10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day
- Have lunch or dinner together. I hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come. If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together.
- Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
- Take a walk or sit outside together.
If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
- Have an old fashioned beauty day.
How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
- Look over some old photos.
Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
- Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
- Put together a simple puzzle.
Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
- Bring the family dog for a visit.
If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
- Watch an old movie together.
Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
- Enjoy some gardening.
If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.