As we approach Valentine’s Day, the non-stop ads for chocolates, candy, roses, and romance are everywhere. Although this may seem like the typical way to celebrate this holiday, for many, that is not the case. If you live with or care for someone with Alzheimer’s, it can be difficult to find ways to help your loved one celebrate. When often times they cannot recall certain memories or people, it can make the occasion seem more sad than joyous. It does not have to be that way though. Here are some tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day with someone who suffers from memory loss.
Look through old photographs or play music
As counterintuitive as it may seem, some people in memory care communities who have Alzheimer’s or dementia can vividly recall people and events that are long past. Ask your grandmother what she had for breakfast yesterday and she won’t have a clue, but show her a photo of her prom night 50 years ago and she might light up in recognition. Go through photos together with your loved one to see who they remember and thus make them feel normal again. Instead of the confusion that often comes with memory issues, they may seem almost back to feeling like themselves in the presence of such photographs. Plus, you can hear fun stories and learn about family and friends from this activity. Additionally, just as photographs can spark once-dormant memories or feelings, music can also have a similarly nostalgic effect.
Enjoy healthy treats together
Every year people spend millions of dollars on sweets for their friends and family members on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, eating sugary foods like chocolate and candy isn’t a great idea for many seniors. Individuals with diabetes often avoid such items because they cause a spike in blood pressure. Others are trying to maintain a healthy weight or improve their dental hygiene. To give your loved one with Alzheimer’s something sweet that is still wholesome, bring along some fruit. Citrus and blueberries, for example, are full of antioxidants that provide support to the immune system and can help prevent colds and viruses. If you aren’t able to see your senior friend or family member in person, consider sending an edible bouquet of fruits or a basket of seasonal fare. Apples, bananas and berries are all great choices. Plus, your loved one can share the gift with friends if he or she wants to spread the Valentine’s Day cheer.
It can be very hard to watch someone you care about lose his or her memory. From forgetting where the keys are to perhaps not remembering who you are, this is a very confusing time for both the individual and his or her loved ones. It’s incredibly important to be patient in those moments where confusion takes over. While it may hurt you to know he or she may not recall your name, this is not something he or she can help. Imagine being in the other person’s shoes and how it must feel to not remember even simple things. Stay patient and know that even if the person doesn’t recall who you are, he or she will be glad to have someone to spend Valentine’s Day with.
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