Conn. (WTNH) — Valentine’s Day is a special time to celebrate love with family, friends, or a partner, though it’s not as easy of a day for those living with dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) said people with dementia cannot express themselves or remember things deeply as they once did before the illness.

“Valentine’s Day is all about honoring the love and bond between loved ones,” said Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services. “Dementia may impact a person’s ability to celebrate Valentine’s Day as they once did, but there are ways families can adapt the holiday to express love, connect with one another, and show that person how much they mean to you.”

The AFA encourages families to follow the four “Rs” for a dementia-friendly Valentine’s Day:

  • Reminisce: Go through old photos or talk about shared moments together.
  • Reconnect: Share a meal, watch a familiar movie, or enjoy favorite music to reconnect.
  • Relate: Use one of the five “love languages” to “speak” to them in that language: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, gift giving, and acts of service.
  • Reaffirm: Communicate your love and care through a Valentine’s card read out loud, even if they are unable to grasp the full meaning.

Additionally, the AFA urges people to purchase flowers on a table for their loved ones with dementia. Not only will you be able to enjoy the fragrance together, but the gesture can improve their mood, promote positive feelings, and stimulate the brain.

AFA’s Helpline, staffed by licensed social workers trained in dementia care, can be found here.