Mother’s Day gift can help Alzheimer’s

Flowers are beautiful to give and receive for Mother’s Day, but there’s a gift that will last long after the blooms have faded.

Alzheimer’s Australia has found that a photograph album with words is enormously beneficial to those with memory difficulties. Whether your Mum is young and fighting fit, or has health issues that mean a deterioration in mental and physical agility, consider making an album for her or with her.

There are many benefits to this:

    • You get to spend quality time with your Mum and learn about her life in a way you wouldn’t otherwise
    • She gets to have an album that celebrates her life
    • You are giving her something that can help later with triggers for memories and conversations

“By creating a life story, you affirm for your loved one all the positive things he or she has done in life and can still do,” says Dr Glenn E. Smith, a neuropsychologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. “Even after your loved one’s memories start to fade, creating a life story shows that you value and respect his or her legacy. It also reminds you who your loved one was before Alzheimer’s disease.”

According to The Einstein Aging Study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, participation in leisure activities led to a lower incidence of all types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. For this study, leisure activities were reading, writing for pleasure, playing board or card games, playing musical instruments, and participating in group discussions. Subjects who participated in this type of activity one day each week had a 7% reduction in dementia risk. The risk was further reduced with increased activity, to 63% for people who participated 11 times per week.

Ask questions like:

    • Where did your parents come from – were they immigrants? If yes, have you been to their birth places?
    • What did you enjoy most at school? Were you good, played pranks, did sport, were you artistic?
    • What was your first job? What did you do?
    • Who were your best friends as a teenager?
    • What fashion was popular in your teens? What was your favourite style dress or outfit?
    • Did your parents approve of the music you listened to? What was your favourite singer?
    • What hobbies have you had?
    • When was your first kiss, date, dance?
    • Where is your favourite holiday destination?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have photographs from her childhood that go with all of the questions. One picture of her in her youth is enough to start a Memory Album. Look at other photographs she has, and ask her about them. Write down the answers with her – it’s great if the memories can be in her own handwriting, or record them to transcribe later.

If your Mum has memory difficulties, use one photo on its own on a page with clear writing like the name of the person. Create a simple album that has each family member, regular visitors or care workers so she a visual aid to who is and has visited. Often it’s the short term memory loss that’s the most frustrating and challenging.

Let me know if you want any further help with creating a Memory Album – I’d love to help. Hopefully this has kick-started some ideas that you can put into action.

Here are just a few dates of where and when Mother’s Day is celebrated:

  • UK – 4th Sunday in Lent (March)
  • Australia – 2nd Sunday in May
  • New Zealand – 2nd Sunday in May
  • United States – 2nd Sunday in May
  • Canada – 2nd Sunday in May
  • Switzerland – 2nd Sunday in May
  • Brazil – 2nd Sunday in May
  • Cyprus – 2nd Sunday in May
  • Norway – 2nd Sunday in February
  • Spain – 1st Sunday in May
  • Hungary – 1st Sunday in May
  • Portugal –  – 1st Sunday in May
  • France – Last Sunday in May (sometimes 1st Sunday in June)
  • Sweden – Last Sunday in May (sometimes 1st Sunday in June)

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mum’s!

PS. If your Mum has passed, you can create a tribute album that celebrates all the memories you have of her.

And, if you need a hand. let me know.