This Mother’s Day will be different from any of the ones in the past. Normally we would celebrate at home or in our elder’s home. This year she is in an assisted living unit. This will call for some changes.
Gifts: What we buy must have a place to go. Our elder’s apartment isn’t very big. We also have to make sure it isn’t against the rules of the facility. What she’d like the most is some scissors and a bottle of Tylenol. Neither are things we can supply. It’s very important to check with the director of the facility to make sure what gift you bring is appropriate.
Flowers: In many cases flowers aren’t a problem. However, if they are going to be in a common area it is wise to make sure no one else is allergic to them. What might be a minor reaction to one of us could be deadly to a severely allergic resident. Live, nonflowering plants are a better choice.
Go out or eat in? This depends on how mobile the elder is. In our case, by the time we got to a restaurant our elder would want to go back to her unit and rest. It will be much easier for her if we all eat at the facility’s dining room.
Reservations: By all means, make them. Not only does the kitchen need to know how many people are eating, there is usually a limited amount of seating available. On Easter Sunday we kept going from table to table, being told “Oh, not that one, it’s reserved.” Thankfully, I had reserved one for us…
Activities: One of the best activities we’ve found for our elder is pictures. We bring a flash drive that can be inserted into the digital television in her room and in the main room of her unit. The pictures help her remember events and ask questions.
One thing we may do is set up a slide show of all of the resident’s pictures. It is a small unit so that would make it possible. Each resident can explain what’s in the video.
When working with an elder, particularly one with dementia, it takes more planning than it would when we were all younger. It can be fun, and the ideas we are coming up with should delight our elder and perhaps the rest of the unit.