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February is right in the middle of winter, meaning that most suburban Chicagoans are sick and tired of dreary days, frigid temperatures, and scraping ice off of windshields. Fortunately, Valentine’s Day is the perfect reason to smile, celebrate, and forget the snow swirling outside. This Valentine’s Day, celebrate all types of love, including the love you have for your senior family members.

The Benefits of Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Seniors

Seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia may face cognitive challenges, but they are still quite connected to feelings of love and companionship. Taking the time to plan a special Valentine’s Day visit can bring them benefits that you will see immediately.

Activities such as reminiscing, or talking about the past, offers multiple benefits for those who are living with dementia, including decreased depression and increased quality of life, according to a study posted in the British Journal of Community Nursing. Activities such as creating art or playing music can increase fine motor skills and improve concentration. Finally, anytime you are able to spend with your loved one celebrating any day, whether it’s a special occasion or not, means connection and building your relationship.

Celebration Inspiration

If you are excited to celebrate a little love with your aging loved one, here are a few ideas that can get you started on your planning. Remember, you don’t have to have something elaborate planned to make it special. Instead, go in with a few ideas but be flexible enough to just see where your visit goes.

Bake or cook together.
Getting in the kitchen together is a wonderful sensory experience that’s packed with opportunities to visit with one another. Try baking and icing sugar cookies cut into heart shapes or cozy up with a pot of your favorite soup.

Dance to music.
Download a love-themed playlist, or curate your own playlist of your loved one’s favorite songs to listen to together. Try to choose music that they would have listened to when they were ages 12-35 to increase the chances that they will remember the lyrics and have distinct memories of the song.

Create art.
Creative activities can be perfect for enjoying a snowy day together. Run out to the craft store and purchase small canvases along with a few paints and brushes. Turn on some music and paint a heart collage that you can hang on the wall. Or, use pink, red, and white crepe paper to create a decorative jar for a flameless candle.

Walk down memory lane.
Pour a cup of coffee and look at some photo albums to take a walk down memory lane together. Ask your loved one about the photos and the people in them, or just quietly look at the pictures together.

Go on a quick trip.
Sometimes, getting out of the house is the best idea for spending time together. If the weather suits you both, drive your loved one to a favorite coffee shop or restaurant. Or, cruise through the old neighborhood and point out favorite spots.

Barriers to Celebration

Dementia and other factors can lead to some barriers to your well-planned celebration. Although staying flexible and ready to change plans is your best tool for dementia-related complications, here are a few more ways to make your visit more enjoyable.

Distance
If you are far away from your loved one this month, you can still celebrate Valentine’s Day. Send a care package of favorite items, including some Valentine’s chocolates, to their home. Schedule a video chat and listen to some upbeat love tunes together.

Agitation
Unfortunately, dementia can cause agitation or anxiety, which can derail a visit quickly. Try scheduling your visit during the best times of day for your loved one. When possible, steer clear of complex activities or excessively stimulating visits during the late afternoon or early evening hours. If you must visit during this time, plan a relaxing activity for your time together instead.

Loneliness
If your loved one currently lives at home alone, they may express feelings of loneliness. Social isolation and perceived loneliness can increase disease progression in dementia. Connection to others is key, which is why dementia care communities are often the best choice for seniors living who have dementia. If you are ready to begin your search for the best options in the western suburbs, download our free guide: “Finding a Safe and Comfortable Senior Living Community.

Here at Arbor Terrace Naperville, our residents enjoy engaging activities and fun socialization opportunities all year long. We would love to show you and your loved one how our events are designed especially for the needs of everyone who calls our community home. Call us today to schedule your tour. You’ll find many reasons to love it here.

 

Renee Rzeszutko

About the Author: Renee Rzeszutko

Renee has worked for more than the last decade directly serving the senior population. Known for her open door policies and "I work for you" attitude, she is always available to residents, family members, and staff. Whether you have a question or concern or just need to chat, she will greet you will a warm smile and a compassionate heart. Renee makes her home in Huntley and enjoys spending time with her husband and college-aged children.

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