As we near Mother’s Day, let’s honor all moms, paying special attention to the 13 million women in the US who are living with Alzheimer’s disease either as a patient or a caregiver. We know that more than two-thirds of these caregivers are women: many of them are mothers themselves, and wives, and professionals. Balancing tremendous responsibilities, their affection and dedication are seemingly limitless.
In the book Half the Sky, the author, Nickolas Kristos, says, “It’s time to move the apostrophe so that it becomes not just Mother’s Day honoring a single mother but Mothers’ Day, an occasion to try and help mothers around the globe as well.”
If your family is balancing Mother’s Day with dementia you may be looking for new ways to create a day celebrating memories. Gatherings and gift giving are a natural path into reminiscing about friends, family, and traditions. Here are some ideas to enhance your Mother’s Day traditions and gift-giving.
Creative Photo Gifts.
Photo-sharing sites and craft shops have made it relatively simple to create memorable, personalized gifts by turning photos into books, mugs, blankets, magnets, and home decor. My daughter and her friends like to make surprise exploding gift boxes. The explosion box looks like a normal gift box from the outside, but once mom or grandma removes the top of the box, the contents spill out, revealing delightful layer after layer of family photos, artwork, poems or quotations.
Make Exercise a Gift.
We all know that to stay strong, safe, and independent, maintaining a fitness routine is essential. Find a program that meets the physical abilities of mom or grandma and remember the best exercise is the one that they enjoy the most. Focus on workouts designed to help them build strength, mobility, and balance.
Swimming, practicing yoga, or simply taking a walk outside can be powerful tools for improving physical and mental health. There are many programs crafted for seniors of varying abilities. Programs like Vivo and Silver Sneakers offer customizable, virtual activities for adults over 55.
Adopt Healthy Brain Habits.
A compelling body of research suggests that nutrition and health routines offer real benefits to brain health. Diets that encourage fresh leafy foods, legumes, nuts, fish, and whole grains—popularly known as the Mediterranean diet—are known to boost brain health. Both Blue Zones and the MIND diet offer guidelines to keep close to guidelines for meal plans that protect against cognitive decline.
Advancing research shows that light therapy has a positive impact on sleep, mental acuity, and overall mood. According to 2 studies, exposing Alzheimer’s patients to an hour of day of carefully modulated 40Hz light and /or sound appears to slow the brain degeneration that is a marker of Alzheimer’s disease. BEACON40 are safe, silent noninvasive lamps that deliver 40Hz lights for home and office use.
My mom always taught me that the best gift is in the giving. Like Kristof, I believe that we should move the apostrophe in Mother’s Day, making it Mothers’ Day, a day to honor and celebrate not just one mother but all of us. This Mothers’ Day, therefore, I’m going to balance my brunch budget with gifts to help moms around the world and at home.
Consider making a donation to organizations that are moving research in women’s health and dementia research forward. Women’s Health Access Matters funds women’s health research to transform women’s lives. The Woman’s Alzheimer’s Movement educates people about their brain health and Alzheimer’s prevention. Mothers’ Day Movement believe that, with support, women become empowered and their lives, the lives of their children, and the lives of their communities are forever changed.
Holidays are wonderful milestones to help you stay connected to family and friends. If your family is battling cognitive decline or looking for ways to prevent it, use these days to build memories, seize opportunities to laugh together, value family beliefs, and carry on traditions. Happy Mothers’ Day to all of the committed and compassionate moms.