My Mom just turned 83. I realize that I have looked forward to celebrating birthdays and anniversaries with my parents. It makes things feel more normal than they are. I am not visiting to make sure they were doing well or just pick up bills, I am able to visit to celebrate a milestone. Something we would have done before they had dementia.
Last year for my Mom’s birthday, I gave her 82 small gifts. I went to Micheals and purchased wedding favor boxes in a variety of colors and filled them with a variety of chocolate treats. There were a few bigger presents in the basket I gave her. Each one was numbered and she went through all of them on her birthday, one by one. She was positively overwhelmed with all the small boxes and enjoyed treats for the next month. She won’t throw away the boxes, she kept every one of them.
The year before, I cooked my Mom her favorite brunch and had them over to my house.
When I asked my Mom if there was something she wanted to do this year, she said that she would like to go to the dime store and shop. There is a dollar store down the street from my Mom’s retirement community and for years, my parents would arrive at our home with plastic birds, squirt guns and games that they picked up from the dollar store.
This year, when we arrive, my Mom is asleep on her bed. We decorated her room while she slept and when she awoke was very surprised to learn it was her birthday. She ate quite a few of the chocolate covered strawberries as well as wanted a piece of birthday cake. We took her to the dollar store and purchased a larger vase for roses as well as a few puzzle books and some small craft projects. Halfway through the store, she stopped talking and just said she would follow me. The store got overwhelming for her so we checked out.
During the trip, my Mom noticed she had a broken nail. As I just shared, I’m having trouble keeping Mom kempt, and her nails are very long and in need a trim. I ask her if she’d like to go get a manicure. At first she says no, but when I tell her that I will help with her nails when we get back, she decides a “professional” manicure might be better. The three of us got our nails done together and I could return her home a little better off than I found her. I will add that to the list of birthday activities you can do with a loved one who has dementia. Celebrated.
Five Birthday Activities / Ideas for Someone with Dementia
- Bring their favored home-made meal or serve them at your home.
- Create a basket with numbered boxes filled with candy or other treats that represents their age.
- Take them on a car trip / shopping trip to a beloved retail outlet.
- Ladies: Go get a manicure / pedicure or shampoo and set or blow out together.
- Men: Go get a manicure / pedicure or shave together.
Consider getting flowers and / or balloons that can remain in their rooms as a reminder of their recent celebration.