Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Loved One with Dementia

February 13, 2017

Valentine's-Day-Dementia-CoupleValentine’s Day: It’s a special holiday many of us spend recognizing and appreciating our significant others.

However, if you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other kind of dementia, this day might also hold painful reminders of the aspects of your relationship that have been taken away by a cruel disease.

When your partner is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it can almost feel like you have received the diagnosis yourself because you must also adapt to new challenges each and everyday. Celebrating this holiday with your partner is one of these many challenges, and observing the holiday as best as you can is just part of adapting to the challenge.

While it can be difficult and painful to celebrate Valentine’s Day when your partner is unable or unwilling to actively participate, for couples who regularly honored the day, it might be even more painful to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Despite many complications that come with the progression of dementia, there are still ways you can stay connected with your loved one, and appreciate your love for them, both past and present.

For example, author Mara Botonis shared these touching words in a Valentine’s Day Promise to her loved one as a way to honor their relationship in all of its forms. One simple way you can say, ‘I love you’ to your partner could be to adapt Botonis’ words or share your own promise to them.

All else aside, acknowledging your partnership on this day of love is the best you can possibly do for a partner with dementia — and for yourself. Remind them that they are loved, that they love you, and that you continue to share a connection.

If you’re not sure exactly how you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with a loved one struggling with dementia, here are a few simple ideas to make your day special:

  1. Go through your wedding album together
  2. Bake and decorate heart shaped treats
  3. Watch a romantic comedy, or other favorite film, together
  4. Reminisce on the day you met or how you fell in love
  5. Brighten up a space with a fresh flower arrangement
  6. Enjoy a special meal together from your favorite restaurant (and, remember, you can always order it to-go if you’re concerned about eating out)

For even more Valentine’s Day ideas visit Alzheimer’s Society here.

By Ali Perry

Ali Perry is a Communications and Marketing Intern at Iona, and a former volunteer at our Active Wellness Program at St. Alban’s. She is a senior at The George Washington University studying Human Services and Social Justice, and intends to pursue a career in Nonprofit Management.