I’m starting to see a lot of posts about Mother’s Day. In recent years, Mother’s Day for my mom has taken on a different “look” – she has Dementia. Most days she is very confused and afraid as she doesn’t remember who my dad is or what has happened to all of those she knew and loved (who have passed away). Thankfully, she is still at home being cared for by my single brother and my dad but it is a huge undertaking. I live 8 hours away so can only get there every six weeks or so to help out but try to do things from my end to help ease the burden. I’m getting ready to go for a visit and am taking her Mother’s Day gifts with me as I won’t be there on the actual day. I thought I would share some of the gifts I’m taking her as they are all things that we are using to bring meaning, calmness and joy to her daily life.
Do any of you remember these?? I loved these as a kid. My mom attends an adult day care and often other residents will make little gifts for the others. I thought this would be something we could work on together and she can take them to her friends. You put the pegs on the shapes and then iron them – they melt and you pop off the designs.
Mom never really liked arts and crafts or coloring but she seems to enjoy it now so I bought this coloring book and a nice, new box of 64 Crayolas for her. She LOVES birds so we’ll give this a try. It’s not one of the new “adult” coloring books – those are way too detailed. This is just a simple, kid’s coloring book with large and simple pictures. I hope she gets that same "thrill" of opening a brand new box of crayons!
This is my first time buying these “Find It” games. Mom LOVES pink so I think she’ll enjoy this. Basically, there is a list on the lid and on cards with everything that’s “hiding” in the beads. You just shake, roll, twist and look for the objects. It comes recommended by the Alzheimer and Dementia sites as something that is often well received by patients. It’s also self-contained so can be taken to places like doctor’s offices where a lot of waiting is involved.
The last time I visited I took a puzzle. Springbok has some really nice puzzles that are especially good for those suffering from Dementia. They only have about 24 pieces and the pieces are big. The themes are not childish and again, since Mom LOVES birds, I took this puzzle for us to work on.
It’s not something she can do on her own so we work together to get the frame made by finding every piece that has a straight edge. I kind of ‘give her hints’ like, “where is that yellow wing for that bird?” and I kind of push two in front of her with one being the correct one. She gets very pleased with herself that she found the correct one. The key is SUCCESS – making her feel that she has been successful at something! Once we get the puzzle together, we talk about each of the birds and the colors and has she ever seen one in person, etc. Where does she think the birds sleep? How do they feed their babies? What do they eat, etc.
I’m also taking her a new wig. Mom was always SO finicky about her appearance and always was ‘dressed to the nines’ wherever she went so it’s hard to see her not be able to do that for herself anymore. Wigs have helped to keep her looking as sharp as possible. Mom was known for her fur hats and coats (sorry animal lovers!) and her jewelry. This picture was taken probably 40 years ago on a Sunday morning before church -- doesn't she look stunning?! I found this necklace on my last visit in her drawer and she said I could have it -- it's big and chunky and a wonderful piece that I enjoy wearing when I get all 'gussied up' as she used to say.
It’s interesting that my mom never liked games or crafts, etc. but seems to now. My advice is try lots of different activities. Don’t go by what they used to like or not like. Things definitely change with this disease and will continue to change day to day and week to week. So even something they didn’t like last week, try it again – they may now like it. In the same respect, if they appear to not be enjoying something – don’t force it. Move on.
This picture was taken in front of her church before she was married to my dad -- she was about 25 years old. I think when I look at these pictures of her, I'm reminded that that young girl and woman and mom is still in there somewhere and while she may not be the person she was, a part of her is still "mom" and needs love, care and joy in her life.
Do you have someone in your family suffering from this terrible disease? If so, what tips and suggestions might you have for activities?