Making Mother’s Day enjoyable for a loved one with Dementia
Mother’s Day is the perfect chance to spend time with the whole family, but the celebration can be stressful for people living with Dementia.
Our Dementia specialist Tiffany Smith, has some helpful advice for families on how to make Mother’s Day more enjoyable for a loved one with Dementia.
Helping Hands has been working with people with Dementia and their families for 26 years through a range of hourly visiting and live-in care services focused on allowing people to stay in their own home and live independent lives.
Tiffany recommends the below tips to create a relaxing and calm atmosphere on Mother’s Day for a loved one living with dementia:
1) Plan meals carefully and in advance – If you’re planning a meal out, make sure you find a quieter pub or restaurant, as increased noise can be disorientating. Make sure the pub or restaurant has plenty of room to allow your loved one to walk about while waiting for the meal – we can all become restless whilst waiting. If this is going to be problematic, trying ordering a sandwich or something that is quicker to prepare. You could even notify the pub in advance, so you don’t have as long to wait for your meals. Always allow plenty of time to travel to and from the venue, as rushing will add to your loved one’s anxiety.
2) Consider activities at home – If a meal out wouldn’t be suitable, why not organise to cook a meal at home in a quiet, familiar and comfortable setting? Make sure Mum feels involved – something simple such as peeling the potatoes while sat at the dining room table is a great way to achieve this. Encourage your mother to lay the table; she might want to decide the seating plan if there are quite a few people coming. Make sure you use photographs rather than names as they are more likely to prompt her memory.
3) Choose activities that involve everyone – Take the gift of a lovely bunch of flowers to the next level and provide your loved one with a flower arranging session at home, using ribbons, bows and her favorite vase. Flower arranging is a calming, relaxing and enjoyable activity providing sensory experiences such as touch and smell. This activity can be done standing, sitting or at a bedside making it accessible for all individuals.
4) Create a playlist – Select some of your mother’s favourite songs from when she was growing up and put together a playlist. Music can provide a calming and soothing atmosphere. Individuals with dementia can respond positively to songs they connect with, giving them the chance to sing a long and reminisce.
5) Stay within the comfort zone – It’s best to avoid any activities that take your loved one out of their comfort zone, such as shopping, or activities that require them to remain stationary for a long period of time like the cinema. These activities may increase anxiety, and therefore will not be enjoyable for your loved one.
6) Make it personal – Although there are many activities that are beneficial for people living with Dementia, everything depends on personal preference – from the activities you do together to the gift you choose.
Tiffany said: “Busy restaurants and other activities you associate as classic Mother’s Day plans can be stressful for a person living with Dementia. It’s important to make sure your loved one feels fully included in the celebrations of the day and be prepared to make some adjustments to make the day calm and as stress-free as possible.
“Music and flowers are just a few easily achievable examples of things which can really make a positive difference for a mother or grandmother living with Dementia on Mother’s Day.”