For adult children celebrating Father’s Day with dads who have memory loss, it’s important to acknowledge your own memories and honor your feelings. It is also critical, for you and your father who has memory loss, to be prepared for the likeliness that your parent may not remember his history as well as you do.
Create opportunities for your father to be successful, even if he can’t quite remember his past as well as you can. Many adults with memory loss still have vital creative abilities, and their ability to use imagination can be a source of enjoyment for them and for us. Allow yourself to go with the flow and be in the moment with your dad on Father’s Day.
Ideas for Spending Time with Dad
Share old photos of yourself and your family that include your father.
If your father does not remember the events, let him make something up about the people in the photo. Ask open-ended questions and try not to start your questions with, “Do you remember when…” Some wonderful tales have emerged this way that brought lots of insight about what your father may be feeling currently, and too, some real gut buster stories have left fathers and their adult children rolling.
Take your father somewhere familiar or somewhere new to enliven his senses.
Take Dad somewhere you and he loved to go together. The old stomping grounds may bring up stories of times you shared together, but remember to allow him to tell his version of the memory. Your father may feel he knows a place; however, he may not be able to recall specific memories or details. In care communities, we refer to this as emotional memory. Your father may smile, laugh, and relax in a place as he connects to feelings he experienced when he visited that place in the past, even though he is unable to verbalize or give details.
Take dad somewhere you’ve never been before. In this way who he is now becomes part of the totality of his life and your evolving relationship with your father. Remember that your father is living now, and now matters, too. Consider going for a nature walk on one of the many beautiful trails we have here in the Eugene/Springfield area, or take him for a scenic drive along the Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Route and end the visit at Buster’s Main Street Cafe for an old fashioned cream soda.
Sing songs or play music your father loved.
Music is a universal communicator, and with music, like almost no other medium, persons with memory loss are able to access memory in meaningful ways. In some cases, persons with memory loss who have limited verbal skills are able to articulate more clearly after listening to music they loved. This is miraculous to participate in and witness in person. Go with it, and enjoy.
Celebrating Father’s Day with a dad who has memory loss means that he may not remember all those details, the history of his life, or the way he changed us. You remember. So keep in mind the next time you see your father, let him take the lead and just simply be in the moment with him. Even though your father is living with memory loss, he is still here loving you in the way he knows best. One of our long-time Resident Coordinators Barbara Suchanek said it best, “Remember the father you once had, but embrace the father you have now.”
If your father is a resident here at ElderHealth & Living, and you are not able to stop in for our Father’s Day Float this Sunday at 3:00 pm, send him a personal message using the contact form on our website.