What typically happens on Valentine’s Day? We focus on those we love. It can be a spouse, a parent or grandparent, a friend, a child. Maybe this year, if you are a caregiver you could imagine directing some of that love toward yourself as well? Take a moment to appreciate the loving kindness and patience it takes to care for someone with dementia or other debilitating condition. You are making a difference in someone’s life, which is worthy of, at the very least, a pat on your own back.
Take a pause and give yourself some appreciation this Valentine’s Day. Then plan something simple and special that will bring delight and make fond memories.
A few ideas…
Drive somewhere beautifulFind the right time of day (most likely early rather than later when weariness can set in for both of you) and take a relaxing drive in the country or to the coast.
Listen to music We’ve talked a lot about the therapeutic value of music. Perhaps you’d like to dance together, watch a musical or play on television, sing some old songs. Any way you look at it, music is usually a safe and fun interactive activity to do with your loved one.
Plan a visit to someone who has a gentle, friendly pet A pet may not be a long term option in someone’s living situation, but a little pet therapy can bring a smile and go a long way. You may want to go to a pet store or even an animal shelter.
Visit family or friends Surrounding yourselves with people who love and care about you provides connection to others, but may have the added value of giving you a break. All of your attention will not have to be focused on the difficulties of caregiving. Let others take the wheel for a little while.
Ask your person what she/he would like to do Allowing someone to have some autonomy or to make a simple decision could be wonderful, if practical. Too often people who have cognitive or physical impairments find that others make decisions for them. You might be surprised!
Take a walk Exercise is always a good idea and healthy for both of you. Make this day special by going to a park, having a picnic, or walking on the beach.
Give a gift People with advancing stages of dementia are especially comforted by a fluffy stuffed animal. It might not be your first choice in a gift but it might be something that is soothing when they are alone. A lovely thought to take with you.
Bring on the chocolate! If there are no health concerns, a small box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day (or any day) is certain to bring a smile. A colorful box with sweet treats inside may be exciting, in a good way, for your loved one.
Give yourself a gift Whether it is taking a bath, having bodywork, taking a long walk, spending time with a friend, or buying yourself a treat, put a little of your caregiving energy into taking care of you, whatever that looks like.
Now is the time to make memories. Find something to do with your partner that brings both of you joy. The love someone experiences from sharing a special a day with you will be a great gift, indeed, and memories are forever.
If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with a Senior Care Authority Advisor in your area call (888) 854-3910 for a no-cost phone consultation. We have many resources to share with you. You can also find a local advisor on our website at www.seniorcareauthority.com.
Written by Marcy Baskin: Elder Care Manager, Family Coach, and Managing Director of Senior Care Authority She is also the author of Assisted Living: Questions I Wish I Had Asked.