Help your father celebrate and remember his years as a young parent this Father’s Day. Having a father who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can be challenging for a family. It can be especially difficult this time of year with the upcoming Father’s Day holiday. You want to honor your father and celebrate his life, but how? What is appropriate?
This Father’s Day, we suggest that you relive the memories and pastimes of your youth with your father. Often residents with dementia cannot remember what they ate for lunch that day, but they can recall distant stories in their long-term memory. Try to conjure up those long ago memories in simple ways that remind him of being a young father.
Sports. Did you toss the football around with your dad when you were young? Or hit a bucket of golf balls at the driving range? Are you a Mariner’s baseball fan or is tennis your sport? Whatever sport you enjoyed together in your younger years, embrace that this Father’s Day. Treat him to baseball tickets, take him to a high school sporting event, or simply catch the big game on TV. And sports wouldn’t be the same without a spread of tasty food – hotdogs, popcorn, soda, and cotton candy. Cheering for a favorite team or player, whether in person or on the television, may spark some old memories.
Road trip. Most of us remember those car trips of our youth, fighting in the back seat with our siblings, and stopping at the roadside attractions on the way to our favorite vacation spot. This Father’s Day, plan a day trip in the car, whether that includes a specific destination or an afternoon meandering scenic drive. Play his favorite music, pick up snacks from the gas station, or stop for a burger at a diner. Give him the map to lead the way or just follow your nose. A lovely afternoon drive (without fighting with your little brother in the backseat) can be very enjoyable for both of you.
Milk and cookies. Does your dad have a favorite cookie recipe? Did you grow up on classic chocolate chip or did he prefer snickerdoodles? And what a treat to indulge in freshly baked cookies with an ice-cold glass of milk, just like when you were young! If you live outside of his town, a tin of cookies can be delivered by Harry and David or Cheryl’s Cookies as a special surprise. Order extra cookies for your father to share with his caregivers to show his gratitude for their help. Whether you bake them yourself, make them together, or pick them up from a bakery, share this treat together and reminisce about the memories you had as a child with your father.
Give your mom a break. As a kid, did you pal around with dad on the weekends, run errands with him, and head to the park to give your mom a break? If your father has dementia and your mother is caring for him or living with him, she may desperately need a break. Being a caregiver is a stressful job and watching your loved one change is exhausting, both mentally and physically. Your mom or his caregiver may appreciate a break while you care for your father. It’s now your turn to take your dad to the park for a walk, grab an ice cream cone, or watch the boats come into the marina.
This Father’s Day, it is important to cherish the memories that you have together and make new ones. Your world may feel upside down since the diagnosis but make the effort to stay connected. Time together, however it may be spent, is precious.