How to Celebrate Mother’s Day when Mom has Alzheimer’s

Published: May 6, 2020

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day when Mom has Alzheimer’s

Celebrating holidays can be a challenge for families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s—especially right now, when we’re all separated due to social distancing. Past traditions often need to give way to new realities. On Mother’s Day, many adult children wonder how to celebrate a day that may no longer hold any meaning for the honoree. But regardless of your mother’s circumstances, most mothers appreciate spending time with someone who loves and pays attention to them. We all have a need for human connection and simply having you near is something she will enjoy.

Here are some ways to ensure that celebrating your mom will be an enjoyable time for both of you:

Sharing a Meal

While we are social distancing, having a meal with Mom through FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or another video chat is a really special way to connect in a time where physically sitting at a table together may be impossible. You can reminisce about favorite foods and the memories you share surrounding special meals. People with dementia typically like a routine. If you do share a meal together, be sure to schedule it at a time when she usually eats.

Meet Her Where She Is

Conversations can sometimes be difficult with someone living with dementia, which often presents a challenge on how to create a special moment. Because many people with dementia still have their long-term memories intact, reminiscing about a past you share is a good way to connect. Enter her world and share her reality. If she talks about President Eisenhower, ask her what she likes about him. If she does not recognize who you are but has memories of a son or daughter, invite her to share those memories without explaining who you are. Don’t try and force the conversation in one direction or another—try and meet her where she is, mentally, so that you can both have a nice time together.


Everyone enjoys getting gifts, and this may be a natural segue into reminiscing about some of your mom’s favorite presents from the past. Good gifts are those that stimulate the senses, such as a soft blanket, scented lotions, a CD of her favorite music, or a photo of the two of you together. Be sure to ask staff what the policy is around sending gifts this month, as COVID-19 may limit what you can send or the way you send it.

Celebrate the Relationship You Have Now

While seeing someone you’ve loved all your life slowly slip away from you is understandably traumatic, try to acknowledge that the person who does exist is still a lovable human being in need of compassion. Recognize that, whatever its form, you still have a relationship that deserves to be nurtured just like any other relationship.