By Jeanine Genauer
Are you planning to visit your mom at a senior living residence for Mother’s Day? Are you wondering what you should do or what you should bring? Our experience may provide you with some valuable insight.
For moms without memory care issues, the most valuable gift you can give is simply your time and presence. Of course, if at all possible, it is even better if you also bring your children or others who bring your mom smiles and joy.
Make arrangements to share a meal or have tea and give your mom the opportunity to dress up for the occasion. You could also go for a short walk. Take pictures of your family together and give them to your mom as a keepsake. Perhaps, make or bring a corkboard that can be hung in the room with the pictures displayed. The board can be covered in a pretty fabric and ribbons strung in a crisscross pattern to hold important items in place. In addition to displaying family photos, notes about doctor appointments, birthday reminders and a favorite letter or poem can be mounted.
For moms who have Alzheimer’s or other dementia, the visit should be short and sweet, perhaps an hour visit bringing her favorite candy or cookies. We recommend they be soft. Also, if you can, plan your visit prior to 3 p.m. so that sundowning does not interfere with the quality of the time you spend with her. Looking at old photos and reminiscing is a great way to spend the time. Although you may expect conversation difficulties, you can minimize these if you stay away though from asking questions such as, “Do you know who that is?” Rather state, “Look at Sara, your newest grandbaby. She has grown quite a bit since last year.”
When bringing photos or photos albums, make sure they are labeled with the names and relationships of the people in them. This will allow caregivers to have a conversation with your mom about the people in the pictures after you leave.
Gifts of flowers may be overwhelming because the vase can be difficult to manage and the blooms may not last long. If your mom is particularly fond of them, we recommend you consider a small basket of silk flowers so that it is stable on a table and not a safety risk. Other great gifts are a small make-up bag with simple lipstick, blush, and a brush or comb so that caregivers can help your loved one feel good about themselves. We also suggest gift certificates to the beauty salon or guest meal certificates.
Careful planning is the key to a successful visit. Know what you might want to talk about or do. Work with the staff if necessary. Share your concerns and your appreciation. Creativity, flexibility, tolerance for confusion, a sense of humor, patience, commitment, time and willingness to make the most of the moment will all add to a successful visit.
Most of all, bring your love and have a Happy Mother’s Day!
Jeanine Genauer is the founder and principal of The JPR Group LLC., a public relations firm providing a full range of public relations and communications services in a variety of industries, including Juniper Village at Meadville, a retirement community at 455 Chestnut St.