Special occasions such as Father’s Day can be looked upon with apprehension and anxiety when you have a loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Maybe he’s only in the early stages, and is feeling blue about having the diagnosis. Maybe he is in the later stages, when he doesn’t recognize you.
Or maybe your dad doesn’t have dementia at all, but has taken on the task of being primary caregiver and can’t get away for a carefree brunch or a game of golf.
While the challenges do exist, it’s also a good time to reflect, find new inspiration and a way of honoring dad.
Here are some popular quotes and gift ideas to help you commemorate the day:
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection” – Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis
This Father’s Day you may recall the countless times during your youth when Dad protected you from the not-so-kind ways of the world. Why not give him an invaluable sense of security in return.
Those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s often lose the ability to recognize familiar places. They may wander away, become confused, and at times get lost.
MedicAlert Safely Home is a national program that helps to identify individuals who are lost, and assists in getting them home safely.
For $60 you can register for a one-year membership, and get a stainless steel MedicAlert ID bracelet for your loved one. With this piece of identification, emergency responders will be able to quickly identify and assist a person living with the condition.
A similar program by the name of Safe Return is available in the United States.
“The greatest mark of a father is how he treats his children when no one is looking.” – Dan Pearce, author of Single Dad Laughing
Simple can be more than just satisfactory. Take a moment to sit with your father, look him in the eye and express your love and affection for him. Be in the moment. Listen quietly and with care, no matter what he is talking about.
Touch is critically important: pat his arm, or hold his hand. Perhaps play some music from his past.
Treating your father well doesn’t have to involve material things. He may not recall the details of your relationship but he will recognize the respect you are showing.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me” – Jim Valvano, U.S. college basketball coach and broadcaster
Dad may not remember the advice and words of encouragement he gave to you, but you do. Now that he’s a caregiver, you have a chance to give back.
Treat the male caregivers in your circle to the little things that will let them take a break and reinvigorate them to continue giving.
Make a week’s worth of meals; set up cleaning services; offer to step in and help with the caregiving; mow the lawn – the options are endless.
As a way to express your love, there is nothing like the gift of your time and support. It far beats a necktie.
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