Here are two simple and powerful ways to show a loved one with dementia how much you care on Mother’s Day (or any day!)
You may have to be more creative this year with your gift-giving, but you can still make Mothers’ Day special for someone with dementia – without spending a lot of money.
Here’s two creative ways to enjoy each other’s company this Sunday
Start creating a life story together
If you have dementia, there’s something extremely satisfying about recounting memorable moments from your life and collecting them together. Best of all, there are many simple and enjoyable ways to do it. From collecting treasured items and keeping them in a shoe box to using a life story book specially designed for people with dementia. Whichever way you decide works best, capturing these precious memories could have many benefits.
Why it’s worth doing
Life story work has many advantages for people with dementia
1. It helps relieve boredom, depression and feelings of isolation.
2. It boosts self- esteem – being able to recall past events in vivid detail can create a sense of pride and confidence in someone with dementia.
3. Reminiscence is both an enjoyable and stimulating activity.
4. Life story work is an activity that has great meaning and purpose for everyone. The person with dementia can enjoy the process of creating it, while friends and family can enjoy the end result.
5. It can bring you closer together. Sharing the task of creating a life story means you both have a common purpose – you might even learn something you didn’t know!
6. Professional carers and care home staff also find life story work extremely useful. It can speed up the ‘getting to know you’ process and provide a rich source of conversation.
• Take your time – you might start this on Mother’s Day but it isn’t something you should aim to finish then too. Look on it as an enjoyable hobby you can both keep returning to whenever you fancy.
• Don’t take over – allow the person with dementia to tell their own story, in their own way.
Listen to music together
Music can have an almost magical quality for people with dementia, it can soothe, stimulate and bring back powerful memories. But it’s important to find tunes that are meaningful to your mum –which can require a bit of detective work. Why not spend some time on Mother’s Day exploring the kind of music she would have listened to between the ages of 10 – 30. This is called ‘the memory bump’ – music from this time of life often remains most vivid of all. You can then create a personalised playlist for her to listen to whenever they want. Whether you use a simple MP3 player or a music player specially designed for people with dementia, is up to you.
Why it’s worth doing
Music has been shown to have many powerful effects
1. Music boosts confidence
If you can’t remember what day it is, but you can still recall the words to every verse of your favourite song… you’re bound to feel good about yourself
2. It’s been proven to improve mood. A scientific study of residents living in dementia care homes showed that listening to favourite music could be particularly beneficial; it helped ease agitation, anxiety and distressing behaviour. Music can also be used to create or enhance mood, so it has enormous potential.
3. Music is a powerful emotional tool
Music can help people with dementia to access memories and emotions – a favourite piece of music can make anyone laugh or cry when it taps into a strong memory.
4. When words fail…music still speaks
When verbal communication becomes too difficult, music can still provide a way to connect with the world.
5. It can reduce the need for medication
A massive study of more than 25,000 nursing home residents found that those who listened to a personal playlist (a list of carefully selected favourite music chosen specially for them) were ‘significantly more likely’ to no longer need anti-psychotic drugs.
6. It’s very relaxing
In the later stages of dementia, music can bring more benefits and a great deal of passive pleasure. Listening to a favourite CD, could also provide a great sense of comfort and normality to a world which may otherwise seem strange and unfamiliar.
When choosing favourite music don’t forget to include
• Inheritance tracks – songs associated with important people in someone’s life.
• Heritage tunes – related to where someone is from, their faith or religion, their family background, local dialects and languages.