There have been many famous mothers throughout history. They include Sojourner Truth, a freed slave who fought to free her son who had been sold into slavery illegally. Maria von Trapp who helped her husband and nine children escape from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. There are fictional mothers like Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter book series, classic June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver and even the cartoon mom Marge Simpson. However, the only mom that really matters is our very own. She is the most famous mom to us and that is why we celebrate her on Mother’s day.
Mother’s Day was created in 1908 by a woman named Anna Jarvis. It became an official holiday in the United States six years later in 1914. Jarvis was infuriated when the holiday became highly commercialized and she spent the rest of her life trying to have it expunged from the national calendar. She may have been angry but she did a good thing – she gave us one day a year focused solely on celebrating our Moms.
If your mother is well, it will be easy to celebrate Mother’s Day with her. But what do you do if your mother is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? The answer is that you celebrate with her. Even though dementia may have stolen your mother’s ability to recall your name, she can still feel joy when you are with her. Don’t hesitate to gather the family together wherever she lives, whether it is at home or in a skilled nursing facility. It will make her happy. She may not be able to label the day as Mother’s Day, but she will know she is surrounded by the people she loves.
If your mother is suffering from dementia, here are some simple things you can do to celebrate Mother’s Day with her.
Give her a photo: Print a photo of the family. Using photoshop on your home computer or a photo program at a quick-print shop, insert the names of each person in the photo using an easy to read font. For example, label those in the photo with notes like “Julie your daughter”, “Michael your son-in-law” etc. When she looks at the photo she will be able to identify the people she loves.
Give her flowers made out of silk, fabric or paper: The beauty of real flowers is short lived. However silk, fabric or paper flowers will remain beautiful for a long time. Put together a bouquet of her favorite flowers and place them in a decorative plastic vase. It’s important not to use a glass vase that can break if it is tipped over. Place a large tag on the bouquet with a note from you and the family.
Give her a scrapbook: Put together a small scrapbook filled with memories of the family. This will give you the opportunity to relay simple messages that she can read over time. If she can’t or doesn’t like to read, the scrapbook will be a good tool for the activities staff to use with her to promote conversation. When you put the scrapbook together, use the pages to create a visual and tactile experience for your mother. For example, on one page you could glue a small piece of flannel that she can touch. Place a colorful note beside it that says “This reminds me of Dad’s flannel shirt”. Add photos, notes written by the children, even cut out pieces of a map showing where you lived when you grew up. All of these things can bring joy to your mother.
The most important thing is to visit your mother on Mother’s Day. If you live a long distance away, ask the people who live near her or with her to help you set up a visit via an audio/visual platform like Skype. Seeing each other and hearing each other’s voice is the best way to celebrate Mother’s Day.