(KXNET) — Valentine’s Day brings unique challenges to relationships where a person has dementia and cannot express themselves or remember things like they did before.
According to a news release, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) wants to offer four tips to families on how to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“Valentine’s Day is all about honoring the love and bond between loved ones. Dementia may impact a person’s ability to celebrate Valentine’s Day as they once did, but there are ways families can adapt the holiday to express love, connect with one another, and show that person how much they mean to you,” said LCSW, AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services, Jennifer Reeder.
You can follow these four Rs to help create a Valentine’s Day that’s dementia-friendly.
You can go through old photos together with your loved ones and explain them by saying who the people are, where it was taken, what the occasion was, etc.
Simply talking about shared moments, can become a great way to celebrate love and the special bond you share with each other.
There are several ways to maintain, restore, or create intimacy, love, and connection with your loved one.
You can do things together to stay connected by sharing a meal, watching a familiar movie, enjoying music, or just taking a walk.
Nonverbal cues, like touching, smiles, and eye contact, can maintain or strengthen connections with those that may not be able to verbalize their emotions.
People use “love languages” like physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service, to give or receive love.
Knowing what type of love languages your loved one responds to positively and trying to “speak to them” in that love is very important.
Just remember that these could change over time as the illness progresses.
You can write a Valentine’s card and read it out loud to your loved one. They may not fully understand the meaning, the act of writing it, and communicating your love, but it may help to lift your spirits.
A gift of flowers is another thing you can do. Buy a bouquet of flowers, put it on a table, and enjoy the fragrances, as the scent can improve moods, promote positive feelings, and stimulate the brain.
AFA’s Helpline is available seven days a week by phone (866)232-8484, text (646)586-5283, and via web chat.