Ways for Families Affected by Alzheimer’s to Stay Connected on Valentine’s Day
(February 4, 2020): With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering helpful information on ways families affected by Alzheimer’s disease can celebrate and strengthen their relationships.
“It is important to have people to love and care about, especially when it comes to family. To feel loved is one of the most basic human needs,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s president and CEO. “When Alzheimer’s disease enters someone’s life, it can change many things, including their relationships. Being adaptable and open to change can help families affected by Alzheimer’s disease find alternative ways to express love, show support and connect with one another on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.”
AFA offers the following suggestions to help families affected by Alzheimer’s disease strengthen their bonds on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year:
- Find ways to reconnect. It may be unrealistic to do all the things you once did with your loved ones, but there are still ways to maintain, restore or create intimacy, love and connection. Doing things together such as sharing a meal, watching a movie, listening to or dancing to favorite music, looking at old photos or just taking a walk are all ways to help stay connected. Nonverbal cues, such as gentle touching, smiles and eye contact are all ways to “stay connected” with someone who may no longer be able to verbalize their emotions as they had before.
- Know the person’s “love languages.” Love languages describe various ways people give and receive love. These include physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Try to be sensitive to the types of gestures your person responds to. These may change over time.
- Be adaptable. Focus on what the person can do now, rather than dwelling on what they cannot, and be willing to adapt your relationship to the “new normal.” For example, if traveling is something you enjoyed together before but can no longer do, consider bringing a destination to them. Instead of going to Italy, have an Italian-themed night with Italian food, music, pictures and/or movies.
Families who have questions, need information or are looking for support can speak with one of AFA’s licensed social workers by calling AFA’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 or connecting through the Internet at www.alzfdn.org/afahelpline. The helpline is open seven days a week (9 am to 9 pm ET on weekdays and 9 am to 3 pm ET on weekends).