Straight From The Heart: Celebrating Our Mothers and Fathers
It's the time of year, Mother's Day this weekend and Father's Day next month, when we all try to think of the perfect gift for our moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, and other loved ones we honor on these holidays.
There are the perfect gifts that extend well beyond the recipient: Like other nonprofit organizations, the Alzheimer's Foundation of America offers ways to make tributes, including recording a loved one's name in AFA's Book of Remembrance on our Web site or crafting a panel that celebrates the life of someone who had or has Alzheimer's disease or a caregiver for AFA's Quilt to Remember.
These types of tributes are important because they make us feel good inside amidst the pain of this heartbreaking disease. A therapy of sorts. They're also important because they let the world share in Mom or Dad. A quilt panel, specifically, tells the story of a real person whose life has been touched by this disease and captures some of the memories we want to pass down.
But what is the perfect gift on a more intimate note-one that is less public? I would suggest two ideal things: time and an expression of emotion. These non-material presents can say much more than yet another tie or the trendiest perfume.
For caregivers, free time can be the most meaningful gift of all. Several hours or a day to do something for themselves while other caregivers step in can be a real stress-buster, invigorating physically and mentally. Moreover, it lets them know that you recognize their efforts and dedication.
And express your emotions. Nourish them by vocalizing your appreciation, by empathizing with what they are going through, by expressing your love.
For the person with Alzheimer's disease, give them quality time. As hard as it might be to stray from the practical 24/7 responsibilities of caregiving, spending time with your loved one in a different capacity can be rewarding all around. Side by side, listen to music together, flip through photo albums, watch the birds on your patio. Stop and take time to smell the roses.
And for these folks, too, communicate how you feel. Even if your loved one's capacity to understand language has diminished, there is still the warmth of a smile, a hug to touch a person's heart.
Two sons reached deep inside themselves and unearthed their feelings- one for a mom, who is a caregiver, and one for a dad, who has Alzheimer's disease-in the latest issue of AFA's caregiver magazine, care ADvantage. Read their Mother's Day and Father's Day tributes and get inspired to offer your heart and soul on the upcoming holidays and throughout the year.