After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the last thing to cross a family member’s mind is celebration. However, as many individuals and families have discovered, one effective way of coping with degenerative disease or terminal illness is through positivity and gratitude for what we have. How we choose to live is still within our control, even if our loved one’s illness is not. Helping your loved one turn their journey with Alzheimer’s into a celebration of their life could make a world of difference in their well-being, as well as your own.
Nancy Clanton, Community Relations Director at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, FL, endorses this kind of positive perspective when it comes to caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. “Celebrations of any kind have significant benefits for those with Alzheimer’s,” says Clanton. “Whether you’re honoring family milestones or simply cherishing time spent together, creating a spirit of celebration can help boost your loved one’s self-esteem and provide moments of pleasure and joy.”
Although your loved one with Alzheimer’s may have lost the ability to fully understand his or her surroundings, times of celebration are just as special – and as important – as they are for the rest of the family. Including loved ones with memory loss in holidays and family gatherings, as well as celebrating the special moments of each day, make for a better quality of life.
“Even in the latest stages of memory loss,” Clanton adds, “when it seems as if your loved one is almost out of reach, it’s important for families to remember that their loved one isn’t gone. They still deserve to enjoy life, even if they can’t express it in the same ways.”
Celebrating Life’s Grand and Graceful Moments
In addition to involving a loved one in celebrating milestones, such as holidays, birthdays, the birth of a grandchild, weddings or graduations, it’s also important to look for ways to celebrate life every day. For example:
- Provide encouragement when your loved one accomplishes a task, even one as simple as picking out their outfit for the day
- Spend time outside enjoying nature
- Share quality time in each other’s company, or visiting with friends and family
- Enjoy a meal together, and talk about what you’re grateful for
To put it simply, you can help your loved one enjoy life’s big and small moments by fostering a positive state of mind that seeks the best in every situation. If you look closely, every day holds countless reasons for us to celebrate: beautiful weather, time spent with friends, new accomplishments. Sharing these moments with a loved one with Alzheimer’s creates special opportunities for connection.
How to Celebrate in the Midst of Memory Loss
According to some experts, only when we’ve changed our perspective on our loved ones’ memory loss can we really help them enjoy the greatest quality of life possible. The article “Bringing Dementia Patients to Life” by Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD, discusses the importance of helping people with Alzheimer’s to live their best days. Gunderman stresses the need for caregivers to overcome their misconceptions about the disease and the effects it will have on their loved ones, from fully understanding the cognitive, behavioral and personality changes Alzheimer’s causes to recognizing what their loved one is still capable of feeling and doing.
Although a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is life-altering, and the changes it brings can be difficult for family members, Gunderman says, “The implicit expectation that dementia patients will somehow withdraw and shrivel up can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” If family members and caregivers regard their loved one’s disease as an end-of-the-line diagnosis, they won’t be prepared to help their loved one continue to lead a fulfilling, meaningful life.
There are many ways you can help turn your loved one’s life into a celebration. Try these approaches whenever you’re together to help bring positivity and enjoyment to each day:
- Focus on abilities, not limitations. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s declining abilities when you interact with them, focus on what they are still able to do and celebrate their remaining strengths and skills.
- Involve your loved one. Find ways to involve your loved one in family celebrations. If you’re having a holiday dinner, ask them to help with simple decorations or sing their favorite songs. Include them in parties and gatherings. If your loved one is unable to attend a special event, such as a grandchild’s wedding, you can still help them be part of the fun by having a small family party at their home, sharing photos, stories and cake.
- Include their favorite things. Your loved one is likely to feel most like his or herself when doing the things they love. Help them celebrate each day by including activities they enjoy, such as baking, listening to favorite music or spending time outdoors.
- Honor traditions. Even though your loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease may keep them from remembering birthdays or anniversaries, honor important traditions anyway. It not only shows your loved one that you care, but it may help them reminisce and connect to their past memories.
- Be with them in their world. Instead of trying to bring your loved one back into your reality, celebrate with them in theirs. Correcting a loved one’s mistakes leads to confusion and frustration, but helping your loved one enjoy their present moment can bring continued comfort and happiness.
When you focus on making life a celebration for your loved one, you’ll find that unique opportunities open up for emotional and cognitive stimulation, personal connections and, most of all, joy.
Experience a Remarkable Approach to Memory Care
At Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay, moments are worth celebrating with a signature approach to care services and an elegant lifestyle that envelops residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia with a sense of comfort and dignity.
“Our community was built with our own parents in mind,” shares Clanton. “We’ve created a place where those with memory loss can cherish their favorite things in life and enjoy the slender of each day.”
If you would like to learn more about the signature lifestyle available at Tuscan Gardens, contact us today.
The Art of Living
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.