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The Fourth of July is, for many families, summer’s best holiday. You might relish spending time at the pool, then wrapping up the day watching fireworks at your local park. You don’t have to stop celebrating Independence Day just because a loved one has dementia. Consider these tips to ensure everyone in the family has a great day. 

Be Mindful of Safety and Mental Health 

Dementia is more than just memory loss. It affects many aspects of cognition and personality, and may even change your loved one’s interests. Firecrackers can be especially problematic for people with dementia, who may be more sensitive to noise and more easily startled. 

That’s doubly true if your loved one is a combat veteran, who may have negative memories associated with loud noises. Confusion, anxiety, and difficulties with executive functioning can also present challenges. To keep your loved one safe, try the following: 

  • Don’t go out in large crowds unless a family member can be with your loved one to constantly supervise them. 

  • If your loved one has anxiety, avoid fireworks displays. 

  • Don’t allow your loved one to shoot off fireworks or play with sparklers. Impulse control issues and shifts in executive function present a fire hazard. 

  • Ensure your loved one is well-hydrated and wears sunscreen, and if you’re spending time outside, avoid direct sunlight. 

Celebrating Independence Day with Seniors with Dementia 

Skip the crowds and the traffic this Independence day and try these family-friendly activities instead: 

  • Plan a picnic at your favorite park. If all of your neighbors are headed to a fireworks display, the park might be less crowded than usual. 

  • Roast marshmallows together outside while having a patriotic sing-along. Bonus points if a family member brings along a guitar. 

  • Find an elevated spot and watch the fireworks from a distance. Parking garages, neighbors' porches, and skyrise restaurants are great choices. Watching the display from a distance also minimizes noise, reducing the risk of anxiety. 

Moving the Celebration Indoors

As dementia progresses, wandering and difficulties with orientation in time and space can make it more difficult to spend time outside with your loved one, especially in large crowds. Moving the celebration indoors ensures that everyone enjoys the big day. It also helps you beat the summer heat, which can be especially dangerous for seniors and very young children. Try some of the following ideas: 

  • If your loved one still recalls events from their past, ask them to share a favorite Independence Day memory, then capture it on film. Or if your loved one served this nation in some capacity—in the military, as an activist, or in politics—try interviewing them about their experience. 

  • Play a simple board game with familiar rules. 

  • Watch a fireworks display on television. 

  • Make a simple family recipe together, then gorge yourselves on the fruits of your labor. Try getting a United States-shaped mold, then make Rice Krispie treats and use the mold to shape them into a patriotic dessert. You can even use food coloring to dye the dessert red, white, and blue. 

  • Plan a patriotic family movie night. Let your loved one with dementia select the title, then ask the grandkids to pick a movie, too, for intergenerational family fun. 

The right senior living community blends the perfect combination of Fourth of July safety and fun, offering family-friendly events in a safe environment that won’t stress your loved one. Summit of Uptown offers luxury senior living and a welcoming space for your family to celebrate. We’d love to help relieve the stress of dementia and offer your loved one a path to more joy this summer. Give us a call to learn more!

Josephine Bernero

About the Author: Josephine Bernero

Jo prides herself on making sure that residents make a smooth transition to Summit and enjoy everything that summit of Uptown has to offer.