When thinking about the holidays and our aging loved ones, we often think about what we can do to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone. There are lots of good tips out there for helping people of all ages come together to celebrate. We often think about holidays in terms of how can we make this work.
There’s another angle to consider, though. Celebrations in general are a wonderful way to create connections and, for those with dementia, bring back happy memories. We can intentionally add celebrations to our lives and holidays create an opportunity. We can think about holidays as a chance to connect and not just as something we have to make work.
Holidays, even minor ones like Valentine’s Day, offer a structure to create a nice moment. There are already colors and themes and traditions we can use, without having to come up with our own ideas about how to create an event. Of course, if you have your own ideas, all the better, but using a minor holiday as a prompt can still create a meaningful connection – and we all need that.
At our Adult Day Center, we find every reason to celebrate. Many of our participants have dementia and really benefit from seeing the traditional symbols and decorations that prompt older, happy memories that they can still access. For anyone who may be aging after losing loved ones and close friends, holidays offer a chance to create a little community and make new connections.
Even if Valentine’s Day or any other holiday doesn’t have great meaning to you, you can use it as a reminder to reach out in whatever way makes sense. This year, our Adult Day Center is the happy host of a special lunch and musical event provided by the Soul Day Foundation. It’s a new event for us, but we find a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day every year, along with many other holidays. Everyone, no matter what age, needs a little celebration once in a while.