Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mother's Day Gifts for Dementia

My 91 year old mom has dementia.  She's had it for about 7 years but this last year has seen her greatest decline as she is not able to clearly communicate.  In thinking about what to get her for upcoming holidays, i.e. Mother's Day, her birthday, etc., I am sometimes tempted to even skip it.  But I've realized that even in her 'diminished' state, she STILL reacts to 'instant gratification'.  By this I mean that while, yes, she may not remember that you gave her a gift two minutes ago, her reaction WHEN she receives the gift is often one of great pleasure.  Also, think about this.  Since she has very little long or even short-term memory, each time you show her the gift, it's as if she's just received it!  Her reaction days, weeks, even months towards an item is often like she JUST received it!  So my advice . . . don't skip the events . . . celebrate!  So what are some things I have given or will give her?  Every dementia/Alzheimer's patient is unique and still has unique likes/dislikes so you have to first determine what makes THEM happy.   Here are some things to consider:

 What is their favorite COLOR?
My mom has ALWAYS loved PINK! When we take her to get her nails done -- pink.  When we take her shopping and give her clothing to choose -- pink.  Jewelry -- pink.  You get the picture.
What is their favorite food?
 My mom LOVES ICE CREAM!  Taking her out for ice cream or buying ice cream treats for her to enjoy at home -- it doesn't matter.  She just takes great pleasure in ice cream. A few years ago I put an Ice Cream Sundae kit together for her! And can you believe it -- her doctor had the nerve to say her cholesterol was a bit high and to cut out the ice cream?!  Not happening -- let her enjoy we said!
Are they mobile or transportable (i.e. using a walker or wheelchair)
 Mom loves to go to the mall.  I know she doesn't really understand any of the stores or what's going on most of the time but it's the sights, sounds and change of scenery that she loves.  So maybe just an outing where you are totally focused on them and giving them an hour or two out of the environment they are in day after day.

 We always have to stop by the jewelry, sun glasses and perfume counter.  By the time we leave, you can smell us from a mile away haha!
 
What types of activities do they enjoy NOW (not necessarily what they enjoyed BEFORE)
 Up until a few months ago, my mom could work a large piece puzzle with a lot of guidance.  Mom NEVER liked puzzles or arts and crafts but for about a year, she loved both!  She also enjoyed simple games like Bingo and coloring. She can't do any of these any more but for awhile, they helped. You just have to keep trying things and learn to let go of the things that have changed.  
What types of things CALM them (music, warm/soft blanket, 'fidget' cloths, certain foods, certain t.v. shows)
 I bought this super soft, fluffy (and of course PINK) blanket for her -- she loves snuggling up in it.  For Christmas this year I bought her an electric throw -- she uses it every day, even now because she's always chilled.  I also put a lot of her favorite music on a small media player with some comfy, lightweight headphones.  When she's agitated, this sometimes soothes her.  Remembering that the shows she watches over and over and over and OVER are always new to her.  It's okay!
You have to learn to find the humor (and there IS often a lot with her) in situations.  She LOVES watching the old Billy Graham crusades on T.V.  -- but she always comments about how GOOD they all look -- that they haven't aged a bit.  We just agree and smile . . .
What things help preserve who they USED to be (certain 'signature' clothing items, manicured nails, makeup, jewelry) 
 My mom ALWAYS wore earrings, rings, etc. every single day of her life so we try to keep that up even now.  We have replaced her valuable rings with costume jewelry but she doesn't mind.  She also always had her hair done.  Her hair is very thin now but she still gets it done each Friday.  I did buy some wigs for her though because her hair doesn't stay in place very long.  The wigs are an easy fix.

So this Mother's Day, l know that I'm not alone in the 'dilemma' of what to get a mom with Dementia/Alzheimer's.  I think that as with all gift-giving, the GIVER often gets as much or more than the RECEIVER so . . . I'll just keep on giving her gifts in the hope that it will give her some pleasure while I have the fun of trying to THINK of things to give her pleasure!

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14 comments:

  1. Awe, this made my heart smile really big. What great ideas and what thoughtfulness. It's hard to see our parents fade away before our very eyes. I over see the care for my 87 year old Dad. His short term memory is fading but his long term memory is amazing. Blessings!

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  2. That was really nice, thanks for sharing!!!

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  3. Thank you for this post. I'm forwarding it to a friend of mine. Great ideas here!

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  4. Oh, my, this is just SO sweet! Your love for your dear Mom is just so evident in every, single thing you say and do. What a dear, sweet person you are to reach out to her in this way and to continue to minister to her, even when you realize she won't be able to remember. You are her angel, that's for sure, and it just blessed me so much to read this. Both of my dear parents are gone now, and oh, my, I miss them terribly. God bless you with many special moments with your Mom.

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  5. This was an excellent post. Thank you for sharing these great ideas. Your Mom looks really good for her age!

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  6. Oh this was beautiful and that photo of you and your lovely mother is priceless! You are one precious daughter.
    Thank you for sharing your beauty with us, sweet lady ~

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  7. What a "wonderfully made" daughter you are, Lauren! Your post was most thoughtful and full of great ideas. My own mom will be 88 this coming June and I plan to go to Ohio to be with her. I call her everyday, and we chat for quite awhile. Often I'll call her a second time.
    I love that your mom chooses pink and loves her ice cream. I'm with you...who cares about cholesterol at her age? Enjoy those precious moments with your mom. I wish mine didn't live so far away.
    Happy weekend to you!

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  8. I'm sorry to hear your mother has dementia. That is wonderful of you to remember all the little things she likes to make things easier for her. How sweet that she loves the color PINK. I love PINK also, it's just a happy color. What a precious picture of her snuggling into the blanket that you bought her. It sounds like you appreciate your mom, and you're so special to show her much love. I miss my mom dearly, but she is always in my heart.

    ~Sheri

    ps when I was clearing out my profile page, I deleted your blog
    accidentally, so here I am now, following you again. Happy
    Mother's Day to you and your dear mother. : )

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  9. How awesome a daughter you are. My grandfather had this and in his last year he would work a large nut and bolt in his lap. He was a mechanic. Thanks for sharing this information. Many good ideas. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.

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  10. Thanks for sharing these great gift ideas, Lauren. As a fellow ice cream lover, I agree with you that life is too short to deprive oneself of this cool treat!

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  11. I loved this post Lauren. you did a wonderful job sharing thoughtful ways to spend meaningful time with an elder person suffering with dementia. I will feature this today at Home Sweet Home!

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  12. This is such a touching and sweet post. As Alzheimers runs strongly in my family, I realize this is something that I will be facing with my own mom, and perhaps my kids and me one day. Thanks so much for sharing these ideas and even more for sharing a piece of your life with your Mom. Bless you both. Pinned to share.

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  13. These are all wonderful and thoughtful ideas for Mother's day. It's wonderful to give her things that you know she's always loved. My mother is 82 and has been diagnosed with alzheimer's. She's still able to live alone, but her short term memory is slipping fast. There are a few of these that you've mentioned that she would love. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your mom Beverly. Hopefully it will progress slowly and you'll have more time with her. I'm glad the ideas were helpful.

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