Cheryl Greenburg - HeadshotCheryl Greenberg, Ed.D.

Cheryl Greenberg, Ed.D., works as a coach, or guide, for seniors and their families as they consider and plan for changes in their personal and work lives. Contact her at or 336-202-5669.

As we approach Mother’s Day, many of us think about how different the celebration is now, if Mom is in the middle or late stage of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.

Celebrating in new ways. For some of us, Mother’s Day means walking past the greeting card display, feeling a pull at our hearts as we realize there is no need to select a card this year. Mother’s Day means listening to our friends plan a lovely dinner or pick out a special new knickknack for Mom’s collection, and thinking about how we did that, too, some years ago.

Mom is not gone, but her ability to understand and appreciate the holiday may be gone. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias dim and later delete memories of holidays and celebrations. Our memories and feelings, though, may be sharp and poignant.

We feel sadness, but we can also find joy in the holiday and honor our mothers in ways that they will sense.

Tips for a meaningful Mother’s Day

  • Simplify the celebrations.
  • Adapt your expectations about what Mom will understand and enjoy.
  • Give gifts that are meaningful today: soft items to hold, fragrant flowers, a bird feeder that Mom can watch from the living room or porch.
  • Listen to Mom’s stories about the past, if she can tell them, and tell the stories to Mom if that better meets her needs.

Honoring the caregiver, too! There are important statistics that suggest there is more to do: The majority of caregivers for older adults—about 2 out of 3—are women. About a third of caregivers are daughters of the older adults who are receiving support.

As we know, caregiving is time-consuming and stressful. It causes the caregiver to put aside her own needs, hobbies, interests, and even time to relax and refresh. While the caregiver is providing love and support for others, she may not have time to receive love and support in return.

So, on Mother’s Day this year, let’s celebrate with Mom, but let’s also celebrate the caring and generous hearts of the daughters and daughters-in-law who are by Mom’s side.

  • Provide respite for caregivers: time away from responsibilities.
  • Give gifts that show appreciation and provide the pampering that relieves stress: a gift certificate for a massage, tickets to an art exhibit or popular movie, a quiet meal on the patio.
  • Listen to the caregiver’s stories. She may well need to share the delights and the stresses of her caregiving days.

Mother’s Day can be a time to honor an older adult and a caregiver with love and support.

For more information about caregiving, visit