Will You Still Be My Valentine?

It doesn’t take long for caregivers to figure out that holidays can become difficult times of the year for both parties concerned. We need to learn to adapt, and what I mean by “we” is both the ones doing the caring and the persons living with dementia.

It is a well-known fact that holidays can bring on bouts of depression. There is no doubt that when dementia arises in our family’s lives that things are going to change. We need to learn how to still enjoy these special days. For one, we may just have to slow ourselves down a bit.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that normally makes us think deeply about our relationships and how greatly we always loved one another. Unfortunately, when dementia-related diseases are involved, we may have to think a little bit outside of the box, in order that our loved ones can find the joy of this day that so reminds us of romance.

If your loved one has reached a stage in his or her disease where he or she may not always recognize you, let’s bring in one of the most powerful memory tools out there: family photo album! And maybe consider grabbing the one that has a collection of your wedding pictures in it. Reminisce about how the two you met and where you spent your honeymoon. Old photographs of your devoted past together may possibly redirect this loved one’s thoughts to actually where you had hoped them to go. If those special memories don’t happen to come back on that particular day, so be it; let’s concentrate on bringing them some joy anyway.

A bouquet of flowers will always put a smile on almost anyone’s face. If that doesn’t work, a heart-shaped box of chocolates will usually make their eyes beam bright enough to light up the room.

Consider participating in some crafts together. Creating handmade Valentine’s cards may exactly trigger the response you’re looking for. Baking cupcakes or cookies may also bring enjoyment, along with some comforting aroma therapy throughout your house.

Try watching a romantic movie together. I would suggest viewing a DVD, something with no commercial breaks. Keep in mind that his or her attention span may now be short—look for a movie that is under two hours. Most likely you know this person—probably better than anybody! What actors or actresses were favorites? What time period is best? Would “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” from the ’60s or “The Goodbye Girl,” of the ’70s be more their thing? Maybe choose the film by the scenery. Where did the person grew up? Here’s an even better idea; let your loved one choose!

Very importantly, spend the day holding hands, cuddle. Human touch has a way of generating a positive emotional response. People may tell you “don’t dwell on the past.” When you are blending Valentine’s Day with dementia, I say dwell all day long in the yesteryears. Embrace with the warmth of your heart. Illustrate your love in that he or she will always, truly be cherished. Love and laughter will always be a cure for the holiday’s blues.