Consider making Memorial Day an extra special holiday for your residents. Some may have been around during WWI; many of them may have lived through, or even served in, the second World War and probably have lost friends, relatives, or loved ones over the years from those or other wars, or another form of military service involvement.
Patriotic holidays and events were most likely more recognized and celebrated in their youth more than in most places today. Making the effort to recognize this occasion as more than just the start of summer will mean a lot to the residents and their families.
Assisted Living Education discusses several ways to make Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays a genuinely special occasion for your residents.
Planning a Memorial Day BBQ or Picnic
Barbeques and picnics are signature events for this holiday, and hosting one for your residents and their families is a great way to celebrate. For residents whose families are involved and active with their care, ask for their support in helping any veteran residents with their formal military wear, if the resident is willing and able to wear it.
Invite a local representative to speak or share a few thoughts, and include a moment of silence for those who have passed serving our country. This representative could even be a family member of one of the residents who might enjoy stories they’ve heard over the years from their relative.
If hosting outdoors, be sure to provide lots of shade and consider the necessary precautions for having the residents outside for longer periods of time (e.g., sunscreen, hydration, sun-friendly clothing/cover up, etc.).
While barbeque food can be available, please remember your residents’ physical and dietary needs that may require food modifications or substitutions.
Patriotic Music & Decor
Senior and other veterans alike may enjoy hearing the music from their branch of military service. Incorporate these songs along with other patriotic and appropriate party music to help set the mood for this memorable holiday. Music from the elders’ generations will also be appreciated and brighten their spirits.
Music from the Different Military Branches
Army – The Army Goes Rolling Along
Navy – Anchors Aweigh
Air Force – Off We Go (aka “U.S. Air Force”)
Marines – The Halls of Montezuma (“The Marines’ Hymn”)
Coast Guard – Semper Paratus
If possible, try to obtain a flag representing each branch of the military, or at least one from all the branches in which your residents have served.
Watch a Memorial Day Parade or Service
Many of your residents might enjoy a special outing in honor of Memorial Day. Check to see if there is a local parade that would be feasible to coordinate transportation for the residents.
Typically, a nationally broadcast service or parade is also available, which can be played on the TV in the main room for veteran or other residents to enjoy watching, if transportation and staff coverage are too difficult to coordinate for a community outing.
Invite the Community
Many community groups, especially youth-oriented ones, are happy to be involved in serving and honoring senior citizens and service men and women on special occasions. Coordinating with one or more of these groups can add to the festivities and make the celebrations even more memorable.
Schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church youth groups/choirs or other organizations could assist in a range of activities, from making and putting up decorations, to singing or performing patriotic music, or just spending time engaging with the residents who may not have family or regular visitors to see them.
Remember to Keep it Simple and Keep it Brief
While we want to ensure these celebrations are special and meaningful, it is most important to put the residents’ needs first. This means considering their tolerance and endurance levels for all activities as well.
Even if well-prepared for, changes in regular routine can be difficult for residents. Additionally, the extra activities can take a toll and be more exhausting for them and the staff as well. Some residents may even become irritable or experience a meltdown during or after the event because they may be fatigued. Though the celebration should be positive and enjoyed by many, it can still be considered an added ‘stress’ for the elderly body.
For the following day or two after, expect residents to be a little more tired than usual. The elderly body often takes longer to recover from extra activities or situations with added ‘stress’. However, like any other time, if the resident is experiencing a dramatic change in behavior or disposition, be sure to inform the attending physician and see to it that they are closely monitored. First and foremost, follow your facility’s guidelines when dealing with emergency health concerns.
Keeping the event simple, brief, but still classy should help alleviate some of these situations. Additionally, no resident should be forced to participate if they or their family does not want to.
Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education is a proud provider of assisted living services to the senior community. We offer courses and certification for RCFE training, continuing education units, and other online coursework. We can even provide consultations to your facility concerning compliance, specialized topics training (dementia/Alzheimer’s, medications, and more), and our founder, Jane Van Dyke-Perez is an engaging speaker who has been featured at prominent conferences across the country.
Explore our website, or visit our contact page for more information!