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5 Tips for a Relaxing Mother’s Day When Your Mom Has Dementia

Small gatherings with minimal stress are key to a successful celebration—whether you’re together or apart.

An elderly woman uses her laptip to video chat relatives.

Regardless of what form your Mother’s Day celebration takes this year, the last thing you need is stress. The event is meant to be a special time to celebrate your relationship with your mother, so you want to be able to enjoy it. When your mom has dementia, taking a considered approach to Mother’s Day is important, as any special event or holiday can bring up feelings of loss for what used to be, and can cause additional work and stress for you as a caregiver.

This year poses additional potential challenges, as social isolation measures may make it impossible for you to spend the day in the same place as your mother. Whether you have to be separated for this reason or because you live apart, or whether you’re able to celebrate together at the home you share with her, it’s important to plan ahead for a pleasant and meaningful celebration.

You can relax first and foremost when you know that your mother is well cared for. If you live with her, this might mean hiring an in-home care service for additional companion care, so that you can take care of arranging your Mother’s Day plans. A home care aide could also handle household chores like cooking or cleaning, to give you a break.

If you are separated from your mom on Mother’s Day, hiring an in-home care aide who can be there for her can also give you more peace of mind. Caregiving professionals are trained to handle everything from organizing and dispensing her medications to skilled health care.

These tips may help you to plan a celebration with greater meaning and less stress:

1. Keep it small
For people with dementia, small gatherings for special events and holidays are preferable. This is easily done if it’s only the two of you at home. If you’re connecting via a technology like Skype, FaceTime or Zoom, your mom could easily get confused if the gathering includes more than a few people. If several family members want to be involved, try to have one conversation at a time, placing the attention on her.

2. Keep it quiet
Home is the optimal setting because minimal noise and disruptions are easier for those with dementia. If your get-together is happening virtually, again remember to keep the noise level down. Try also to hold the celebration at a time of day when your mom tends to feel her best. Daily routines are important.

3. Include activities that are special to both of you
You and your mom might have a happy tradition of watching old movies or of singing together. Consider incorporating something like that into the day. Favorite soothing music can help keep the mood positive. If you’re together physically, you could also cook a simple meal you used to make together. If not, consider arranging to have some of her favorite foods dropped off outside her door.

4. Adapt gift giving
A comfy easy-to-remove item of clothing, or photos, music and favorite treats can be good gift choices, either to give in person or to send to your mom. If at home, you might want to involve her in the gift giving, depending on her abilities and desires. “For example, someone who once enjoyed baking may enjoy helping to make cookies and pack them in tins or boxes,” suggests the Alzheimer’s Association. “Or you may want to buy the gift so that the person can wrap it.”

5. Don’t forget about yourself
Allow yourself to let go of the feeling that you have to do everything. Getting help is a sign of strength. Try to get enough rest in advance of the day. Keep your expectations realistic.

Mother’s Day is about the two of you and the relationship you have shared over the years. You respond to one another’s feelings. Remember that even though you may have feelings of sadness over changes in your mother’s condition, what’s happening now is what matters. It can help you to try to keep your focus on the present. When you are able to genuinely relax and savor the day, you will be giving your mom one of the best gifts possible.


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