Celebrating Mother’s Day Despite Dementia

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News from the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital

April 26, 2021

Mother’s Day can be difficult if your mother or special mother figure in your life has Alzheimer’s or other dementia, but it doesn’t have to be.


It’s perfectly natural for the day to spark feelings of sadness or anger at the loss of spending more time with her as you’d always known her. But staying focused on the gratitude you have for all the wonderful moments you’ve had together and for those that are still possible now and in the future can make for another wonderful Mother’s Day, no matter what. Not only that, it can actually help to improve mental health and ease anxiety and stress for both you and for her.


Here are some tips to help both you and your mom, aunt or other special woman in your life enjoy another beautiful Mother’s Day together.


  • First, it’s important to remember to live in the moment. At the heart of the holiday, Mother’s Day is all about honoring the special moments you’ve shared together in the past and creating new ones in the present. So simply focus on just enjoying the moment you’re in together, right now, in the ways that will make her happiest.

  • Keep the celebration simple, on her schedule, and focused on who she is and what she loves now. Keep up with longtime Mother’s Day traditions, but remember to be flexible and manage expectations so that the tradition fits the moment you’re in. For example, if you’ve always gone to brunch for Mother’s Day but now crowded restaurants cause her stress and anxiety, make her breakfast at home instead, or if she’s in a care facility take part in the holiday meal being celebrated there with her.

  • For gifts, choose items that will please her senses and bring about engagement – fragrant flowers or her favorite perfume, a soft blanket, cuddly stuffed animal, a CD or iPod with her favorite music are all great choices. There are some gifts that use technology to help provide mom with joy and activity even when you can’t be there, such as a talking photo album or a robotic pet such as those created by Joy for All, which can offer many of the same emotional and mental benefits of having a pet without the work of caring for an animal or conflicting with the restrictions that may come with living in a care facility.

  • No matter what, the best gift is the time you spend together, doing activities that she’ll enjoy. Even if engaging in conversation has become difficult for your mom, sharing an enjoyable activity together can be just as special. Some ideas include spending time with grandchildren, gardening, crafting, listening to her favorite music or watching a favorite movie together, baking together, taking a walk together in the beautiful spring weather, or simply giving mom a luxurious and intimate hand massage and manicure.

  • If the COVID-19 pandemic prevents you from being together in person this year, there are still ways to enjoy time together. A video or phone call where you revisit happy memories by retelling favorite family stories, listen to music together, or read parts of her favorite book to her are sure to help her enjoy the day and provide you both with the sense of closeness and connection that you need.


Even if it’s not the Mother’s Day celebration you “always” used to have, Mother’s Day can always be a day to celebrate all the wonderful moments that you’ve shared and the moment you have to share together, right now. You perhaps can appreciate the value of a single moment more now than ever before, and that’s a beautiful thing – so make the most of every moment you have together, and you’ll both enjoy the day, no matter what.



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