Father’s Day And Alzheimer’s
Posted by Accutech on June 12, 2012 10:50 am
Having a father with Alzheimer’s or dementia may make you dread Father’s Day. You may feel that since he’s not the dad you once knew that celebrating this tradition would only heighten the sense of loss and confusion for both of you and your families. But this is the one day dedicated to father’s across the country and should be embraced no matter how far along the condition may be. Giving the gift of your time is the greatest gift of all.
Focus on his remaining strength’s and interests and remember that as confusing and depressing as this is for you it may be far more troubling for him. So make Father’s Day a day for remembering and celebrating all that was and still is your dad.
Reminisce with him. Bring out the photo albums. Many of those with decreasing mental abilities will still be able to recall the distant past so tell the same stories you used to tell at the Thanksgiving table. Remind him of the time he drove all night to see your school play when his flight was cancelled or the dinner he burned when your mom was away. Those family stories will help you both remember good family times. If possible let him do the talking, ask him about his childhood, about his own dad or about the dog who used to follow him everywhere.
Listen to music together. Music has long been a therapeutic activity and will often “jog” memories or a sense of his past. Songs from a person’s past, especially if it was a favorite, can activate the emotion and reward centers of the brain and even those with profound memory loss can sometimes recognize and even sing a song that they used to know. Search for the top songs from when he was younger and make a CD. If you know the song that was played at his wedding be sure to include it.
Don’t forget to show him that you care. Tactile sensations are very important to someone who may feel increasingly isolated from the world around him. Your big and burly dad may now want to hold your hand or just feel you close to him. Simply take his hand while you’re talking or listening, hug him from time to time or just look into his eyes to let him know you’re there. If there was a time to dispense with any embarrassment of holding your dad this is it.
If your father is being cared for in a nursing facility create a Father’s Day Love Package. Record videos of you, your family, and any one else you father may like to see, perhaps even a long time neighbor or former co-workers. Leave the video along with the photos, music and any other memorabilia. This can help alleviate any sense of loneliness or confusion to have his memories around him. Caregivers can use this anytime as a reminder that your dad has people who love and remember him.
Your dad will always be your dad, even if he isn’t the same man who took you to your first day of school. Buried deep within him are the memories and the love that he always had for you and always will. Your time and attention will give him a path back to you and his past so celebrate Father’s Day and know that your continued presence and love is all he will ever need.
Accutech wishes all fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers and soon-to-be fathers a Happy Father’s Day.
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