Party Like It’s 1924! Making Holidays Special for Seniors.
Make holidays special for seniors. I’m not talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, those days need to be special, but in a elder’s life, celebrate the little holidays. The days of a senior follow one after another with nothing to mark their passing or distinguish them from any other day. There is no job waiting, no children rushing off to school and maybe not even meals to fix. Everyday is like the day before. We put up calendars and clocks to orient the elderly to the time and date because Monday is just like Saturday. I have had some epic fails in my attempts to make holidays fun.
Since my mom is blind, it’s an extra challenge. Decorations are visual. The appeal of some holiday foods are the presentation. The trick with Mom is to make it smell, taste and sound like a holiday. Yet my dad loves decorations. The food themes are lost on him, I’ve found.
One year for Halloween I decided to try something I saw on Pintrest because everything on Pintrest looks so cool, doesn’t it? My parents used to love getting trick-or-treaters in their old neighborhood. We live in a rural area with no small children nearby—so no trick-or-treaters. Still, every year they ask,“Do you think we will get some kids coming to the door this year?” It’s always, no. I wanted to make it special. I decided to make this:
I’m thinking, “Yay, it’s fruit, It’s healthy and fun.” So I serve it, tell them it’s for Halloween, and looks like a favorite Halloween candy—and nothing. My mom of course can’t see it. My dad never made the connection to candy corn and I’m deflated.
I finally asked, “Can you tell what it is?”
He had no idea. “It’s good fruit salad.” was his response. The next year I served Mummy hot dogs and at least my dad knew what those were. Plus I’ve learned the only thing they can really taste anymore is sweet, so candy always works. Yes, it’s not good for them but hey, they are 91 and almost 93. I say let them live dangerously.
Another epic fail was on Cinco de Mayo. I made a Mexican meal of some sort, even I can’t remember what now, but to make it fun I made them Virgin Margaritas. I placed them on the table and told my mom what they were and she wailed, “But I wanted a Bloody Mary!” The funny part is, I don’t think my mom has ever had a Bloody Mary in her life. I have no idea where that came from.
Valentine’s Day is a bit easier. Chocolate they both recognize and Dad likes anything heart-shaped. We play music during dinner often. I have tried to tie it to the holidays but they don’t recognize it unless it’s Christmas. Big Band music works any time of year. Hearing it takes them back to their heyday and gets them in the festive spirit.
Birthdays we always make special and why not? Every birthday at their age is a milestone. We have cake, cards, decorations, sing and play music. This is my mom directing the birthday song on her 91st birthday.
Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are a big deal around here too. Cards, favorite foods and little gifts make the day a gala. Father’s Day we always have pie, Mother’s Day always includes Eggs Benedict, each being their favorites, respectively.
What do you do to mark special days for the elders in your care, or what did you do if you are no longer caregiving?
Have a good caregiving day!