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Celebrating Valentine’s Day When a Loved One Has Dementia

Valentine’s Day is, for many, a joyous day to celebrate with the person you love. Flowers, chocolates, cards and kisses are exchanged. For those who have either lost a loved one or are struggling to find a relationship it’s a day to “just get through”. But for those with a loved one who struggles with dementia, days like Valentine’s Day brings special challenges. Your loved one is still physically there with you but may no longer be able to relate to you as he or she did in the past. They are therefore disconnected from the symbolism of Valentine’s Day, a day you may have once enjoyed together.

There are ways you can still celebrate the love you have shared for years without forcing feelings or setting yourself up for a disappointment.

Here are some tips to mark the day in a positive way:

  1. Purchase flowers. Set a fresh bouquet of flowers on a table near your loved one. The scent can be enjoyed by both of you.
  2. Enjoy some Valentines cupcakes or cookies together. Even a small box of chocolates can be enjoyed, health permitting.
  3. Write a Valentine’s card and read it out loud to your loved one. While he or she may not be able to grasp the full meaning, the act of writing it and communicating your love can do wonders to lift your own spirits.
  4. Share some old photographs with your loved one. Talk about the people in each photo. Again, the act of sharing memories will raise your spirits and give you a sense of having marked the day.
  5. Just talk. Share your feelings and memories. Talk about the time you first met, how you became engaged, and other fond memories.

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love. Caring for a loved one with dementia is the ultimate expression of selfless, everlasting love. Approaching Valentine’s Day in a new way will help you make an important transition in your relationship with your loved one. More importantly, it will turn Valentine’s Day from a day to avoid into a special day to share.

Happy Valentine’s Day!