Mother’s Day celebrations for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be bittersweet and challenging, even under the best of circumstances. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic adds new complexities to the mix. Social distancing guidelines, travel restrictions and safety protocols in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities may prevent you from celebrating together in person.
This may seem daunting and difficult to accept, and it’s okay to be upset. The current environment is causing many people to make changes that are less than optimal or much different than they would choose to do under normal circumstances. It’s important to keep in mind that you are doing what is best for the health and safety of your loved one.
To help you navigate these added challenges and provide a meaningful and enjoyable occasion, the Alzheimer’s Association is offering tips to help you plan for Mother’s Day this year:
Ideas for virtual Mother’s Day celebrations
- Connect with mom virtually. Schedule a FaceTime, Skype or Zoom call with mom and invite other family members to participate. Prepare ahead of time to ensure the platform you use is one your mom can access easily. Consider taking the call to the next level by adding a slideshow with favorite pictures of mom and cherished family photos.
- Prepare mom’s favorite meal or dessert. The current COVID-19 crisis has offered many families more time to cook and prepare meals. Make plans to prepare your mom’s favorite meal or dessert. If you live together, consider eating outdoors picnic-style to get some fresh air. If you are unable to share the meal in-person, drop it off at her doorstep or have it delivered.
- Order Mother’s Day brunch to go. Mother’s Day brunch is a tradition for many families. While taking mom to her favorite restaurant may not be an option this year, consider having it delivered. Many restaurants may even offer special Mother Day’s menus.
- Give a heartfelt gift. While COVID-19 has closed many brick and mortar stores, online shopping for gifts and flowers is still possible. Plan ahead to ensure your package arrives on time. Of course, the age-old tradition of sending mom a greeting card will still be appreciated. And this year, you may have time to make it yourself, providing a perfect opportunity to let mom know how much you care.
- Lend a helping hand. If mom is still living at home, but cannot host large family gatherings this year, consider organizing family members to do yard work, plant flowers, wash the car or other outdoor spring cleaning activities.
General considerations when mom has dementia:
- Take a person-centered approach. Focus on what is enjoyable for the person with Alzheimer’s, such as looking at family pictures or enjoying the person’s favorite food.
- Keep it simple. Consider celebrating with lunch or brunch at home or where the person is most comfortable. Ask family or friends to leave a dish at her doorstep or have food delivered by a local restaurant or grocery store. If you are together, consider watching her favorite movie together, listening to her favorite music or simply going for a short walk if it’s safe to do so.
- Don’t overdo it. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the day from becoming disruptive or confusing. Depending on the person’s stamina, plan time for breaks so the person can rest.
- Adapt gift giving. Encourage safe and useful gifts for the person with Alzheimer’s. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Some ideas include: an identification bracelet, CD’s of favorite music, comfortable clothing, favorite foods and photo albums of family and friends.
We’re here to help. The Alzheimer’s Association toll-free 24/7 Helpline (1.800.272.3900) is available to help families navigate disease-related challenges, including those resulting from the current pandemic. In addition, our education programs and support groups are available via virtual platforms so families can still get important information and support from home. For the latest local information, visit alzwa.org/covid19resources