Many people who have been touched by the life of a person with Alzheimer’s find themselves desiring some way to honor that person’s life and legacy. It takes courage and strength to manage life with Alzheimer’s, and so it seems fitting to celebrate the people who are burdened by it, either while they are still living or after they’ve passed. For some, a tattoo is the perfect way to show respect and love for someone who has suffered from Alzheimer’s while also preserving the memory of that person and spreading awareness of the disease.
Of course, you should put your personality into your tattoo and design it however you please. But if you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled a list of some Alzheimer’s-related symbols to consider including. We recommend combining whichever one (or ones!) holds the most meaning for you with images that represent your loved one and your relationship with them for a unique one-of-a-kind creation!
1. The Alzheimer’s Awareness Purple Ribbon
Alzheimer’s is often represented by the color purple, so a purple ribbon is perfect to raise awareness for the disease. If you want other people to understand what your tattoo means without asking you, this is one of the best ways to do it without actually writing the word “Alzheimer’s” on your body. If you’d rather have a tattoo that means something to you but is hard for others to decipher, try another purple object that has more significance to you.
2. The Alzheimer’s Association Logo
The Alzheimer’s Association’s logo (visible on the sashes and the background of the image below) is a lesser known but still widely acknowledged symbol of the disease. This solid purple line is perfect if you’re looking for a simple wordless tattoo. You will probably find that the only people who recognize the symbol are those whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s, and perhaps that’s perfect for you. Or you can combine it with other words and images for a more complex tattoo story that may or may not be more clear to strangers. It’s up to you!
Bonus idea: if you’re into knots, try intertwining the purple ribbon and the Alzheimer’s Association symbol.
3. Forget-me-not flowers
Forget-me-nots are small blue or purple flowers whose name says it all! Not only will the word “forget-me-not” remind you to remember your loved one and their struggle with Alzheimer’s, but the flower is a beautiful classic image to put in a tattoo. A tattoo, after all, is a piece of art!
Butterflies represent the fleeting nature of life and memory but also the beauty of those transient things. Plus, if you’re going with forget-me-nots, butterflies might be a nice addition to your nature-themed design.
5. An owl
If flowers and butterflies are a little too girly for your taste, we’ve got something a little more serious up our sleeves (no pun intended). Owls are widely regarded for their astute nature and wide all-seeing eyes. They strike us as wise and conscious beings, making them a perfect symbol for memory, particularly if you or your loved one has a thing for owls or wildlife.
6. An elephant
An elephant is another animal known for it’s memory. The saying isn’t “An elephant never forgets” for nothing! Depending on your design, an elephant can either have a serious and majestic effect or a playful cartoon one. Let your imagination run wild with this versatile animal!
7. A string tied around something
A string tied around one’s finger used to be a way to remember something when you couldn’t write it down. Although most of us use notepads or smartphones to keep us from forgetting things these days, the message is still there. A simple purple (or not) bow around one of your fingers might be the perfect reminder of your loved one. But this image is more flexible than that! Perhaps your string should be tied around an elephant’s trunk or tusk. Maybe it’s going to be part of that faux-Celtic knot we made out of the purple ribbon and the Alzheimer’s Association symbol earlier. It’s your tattoo, so put that string wherever and however you want it!
8. A quote
Words can be artistic too. For those with a love of words or a passion for a particular quote, it’s important not to restrict yourself to images alone. “I will remember for you,” and “The heart that truly loves never forgets,” are popular quotes for Alzheimer’s-related tattoos, but you have free reign to choose whichever quote speaks to your heart! And if you don’t find anything you like that’s already been said, feel free to make something up!
9. Puzzle pieces
A puzzle piece (or the space in a puzzle where it should be) represents the missing pieces of memory for someone who has Alzheimer’s. If you’re thinking of something out-of-the-box for your tattoo, maybe an artistic recreation of a brain made out of puzzle pieces is right up your alley!
If you opt to get a tattoo to honor a loved one with Alzheimer’s, be sure to practice tattoo safety. Get it done at a licensed tattoo parlor, and ask about how they sterilize their instruments and equipment between patients to keep you healthy. And make sure you put some careful thought into what you want before you get it! Thank you for spreading awareness and showing some love for people with Alzheimer’s!
Want to see what your loved one with Alzheimer’s may be going through? Click “next” below to see the experiment one man conducted to understand his mother’s condition in a whole new way!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?