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Dementia complicates parent-child dynamic

May 2012

When we think of “mother,” we think of someone who loves her children unconditionally, placing their needs above her own.

Alzheimer’s disease complicates the parent-child role, as the parent loses her abilities and needs assistance in her daily life. As the disease progresses, the mother is no longer able to assume her role.

For the child, there is mourning for the loss of the mother, whose behaviour and actions are a constant reminder of this difficult change. Some children distance themselves from the parent, finding it too painful to witness the effects of the disease. Others will adjust and take responsibility for ensuring that their mother is well cared for.

Freedom 50? I don’t think so. This was supposed to be a time where our children are settled with their own families and or careers, where we reached financial stability and our elderly parents still managed well on their own. Our children are settling down later, often dependent on their parents for years beyond what we imagined, and our parents, now living will into their 90s, need our time and assistance with their daily lives. Many adult children are struggling with their own health issues.

There are many ways Mother’s Day can be celebrated: sing an oldies tune together, hold hands, look at old photos and share beautiful memories.

Bringing grandchildren into the scene will delight both mother and grandmother and heighten the joy of the day. Gifts are always welcome but should be thoughtful to the person with the disease. A CD of favourite songs, a cozy shawl in her favourite color, a cuddly stuffed animal to hold, new slippers or a favourite food are good ideas. While a dinner in a busy restaurant may no longer feel good for the person with dementia, a small warm gathering of loved ones will be enjoyed by every mother regardless of her abilities.

Don’t let Alzheimer’s prevent you from celebrating the person who gave you life and so much more.



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