By Nancy Kriseman, the Mindful Caregiver

Nancy Kriseman for Atlanta Jewish Times

Nancy Kriseman

“Rise up before the gray-haired and grant honor to the elder.” — Leviticus 19:32

Mother’s Day is a perfect day to reflect on how we can honor our elder mothers and provides an opportunity to thank them in an intentional, mindful way. It can be a way to celebrate their many years in our lives and let them know they are appreciated and valued.

There are many ways to joyfully connect and give the gift of your heart. Here are some new ways of celebrating Mother’s Day. May you find inspiration in the following suggestions:

  • Create your own Mother’s Day card. Instead of the usual store-bought card, consider making a personal card. In that card, consider sharing those special memories that brought a smile to your face or warmed your heart. For example, one of the cards I gave my mother shared how much I cherished the times we would watch countless hours of “I Love Lucy,” eat black olives out of a can and laugh together.
  • Instead of going out to brunch or dinner, make the meal for her. There is nothing like a true home-cooked meal. Perhaps the meal could be a special or favorite food or even a new recipe just for Mother’s Day. If your mother enjoyed cooking and isn’t able to do so one her own anymore, you might want to do this with her.
  • Instead of buying flowers, bring her plants that she can enjoy and help take care of. Consider taking your mother to the Botanical Gardens or for a nice walk in the park. If she is home-bound, create a garden she can see out her window. You can even bring the garden into her home, such as a fragrant and tasty herb garden.
  • Pamper her on Mother’s Day. Ask what might be special to her. Ideas include polishing her finger and toe nails, massaging her hands with nice-smelling creams, and taking her to a play or concert.
  • Buy her an iPod or other MP3 player and create a playlist of her favorite songs. Music can warm the soul. And for those with dementia, research has demonstrated that music can reduce depression, evoke memories, stimulate cognition and provide comfort.
  • For mothers with dementia or other chronic diseases, learn to be a healing presence. A healing presence requires consciously and compassionately being in the present moment with your mother. You “just be” and appreciate the gift of silence. You might hold hands while sitting together, go outside and listen to the birds chirping, watch the butterflies or hummingbirds, or sit by the fireplace. Sharing silence can be more powerful than sharing words.

I do want to acknowledge that for some people, Mother’s Day can be difficult. Not all people have had a loving relationship with their mothers, and not everyone has a mother.

Instead of dwelling on what could have been, perhaps think about an exceptional mother. Celebrate her! Or learn about some memorable mothers in Jewish history at through the Jewish Women’s Archive (jwa.org).

Mothers can be honored for their strength, courage and resilience. They are a true blessing in our lives. May this day be special for you all.

Nancy Kriseman is the author of “The Mindful Caregiver” and a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with older people and their families. This column is about helping families make the best possible decisions when supporting and caring for elder family members. To contact Nancy, visit www.nancykriseman.com, post on her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter (@GeriatricMSW).