Valentine’s Day, in all its Cupid and candlelight glory, is not just for couples anymore. Indeed, February 14 is now an excellent excuse to shower love on the important people in your life. For seniors especially, who may feel lonely after the excitement of the winter holidays has subsided, Valentine’s Day can be a fun way to have a bit of family (and friend) attention.
No matter where the senior in your life is living, you can find ways to show a bit of extra love for Valentine’s Day. Here are just a few ways to spread some affection to—and surely brighten the day of—a senior in your life.
1. Decorate Together, or Send Supplies
If you are able to make a visit to your senior, consider doing so before Valentine’s Day to decorate together. Consider a festive red and pink wreath for the front door, some heart-shaped knick-knacks, or even a photo frame with a love-themed quote displayed inside. You can even hit the road together, sharing a shopping trip to your favorite store to pick up a few decorations for your loved one’s home. Remember, it doesn’t have to be extravagant; just a touch of red and pink can make a festive difference. These simple touches can make your loved one’s home feel extra special this time of year.
Often, family members live many miles away from their senior loved one. Don’t let this fact get you down; you can still send some fun decorations for your loved one to use. Tuck a red-and-white pom pom garland in a padded envelope with cut-out hearts that your kids made with love, and send it off early in the month so that your loved one has a chance to enjoy the decor before the holiday arrives.
2. Get in the Kitchen
Whether you are visiting on Valentine’s Day or another day near the holiday, consider spending time together in the kitchen. While you certainly can make fancy favorites, you both will likely enjoy yourself more if you work on stress-free options. Try dipping strawberries into melted chocolate for a sweet treat made for the season. If you have some kiddos in tow, invite them into the experience as well and have a few bowls of sprinkles on hand to add before the chocolate hardens around the berry.
Sugar cookies with festive frosting are another lovely way to share a multisensory experience that anyone in the family, no matter the age, can enjoy. You may even already have some frozen sugar cookie dough left in the freezer from your Christmas baking spree. If not, whip up your favorite sugar cookie recipe and frost with red, white, or pink frosting. If you have the time, roll out the dough and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Sprinkles optional, but always welcomed. Serve them up on a pretty plate or make small bags to share with neighbors.
Live too far away to have a kitchen date together? Consider sending along the foods via a delivery service. If your loved one lives in a senior living community, you can also inquire to see if they have special treats you can order to be delivered to their apartment.
3. Don’t Forget the Drinks
If baking is not your loved one’s idea of fun, consider bringing treats instead, including a festive beverage. A favorite wine or beer is a great idea, but you can have just as much fun with nonalcoholic versions that even the grandkids can enjoy. Try mixing cranberry juice with seltzer water (or Sprite) for a Think Pink fizzy drink. Serve in a champagne flute and garnish with a raspberry.
4. Send a Thoughtful Card
Valentine’s Day cards are easy to find, and your loved one will appreciate receiving one in the mail. However, you can also increase the thoughtfulness ante by adding a handwritten note about what you love about them. You can even cut out your own paper hearts and write down something you love about them on each heart. Pack an envelope full of your hearts and rest assured that you will make your loved one smile when they receive it.
5. Have a Movie Night
If your senior loved one is a sucker for some romance, make a night of it by planning a classic movie experience. Rent or stream favorite romance movies, pop popcorn, and pour wine to enjoy together. Don’t forget the Kleenex for those especially sappy scenes!
6. Have Some Fun
Whether you do it during a visit or during a phone call, Valentine themed games are another great way to have an out-of-the-ordinary visit together. Play Name That Tune with old love songs, or use Conversation Hearts (which you can pick up anywhere this time of year) to write silly poetry. Alternatively, use one heart at a time to see how many words you can come up with that use the same letters on the heart. These are not only fun ways to pass the time, but also work on cognitive skills like word retrieval.
Valentine’s Day is all about spreading the love to family and friends. If you feel like your senior loved one is lonely and lacking peer support, a thriving and active senior community may be the perfect place for them to live. If you have been toying with the idea, try visiting a community together to participate in a Valentine’s Day activity or social; it’s a great way to share the holiday together while experiencing the culture of the senior living community.