Memorial Day is coming up on Monday, May 30, and many Cincinnati families are planning cookouts and outings with their loved ones. The holiday isn’t just the traditional “beginning of summer”: It’s also a time for remembering those who have gone before us, either in service to our country, or in the course of life.
Some families with older parents or grandparents residing in assisted living or short-term rehab facilities try to avoid some of the more somber overtones of the holiday because they want to buoy their loved ones’ spirits. But it’s important to understand how your loved one wishes to observe the holiday — especially if he or she served in the Armed Forces and wants to honor his or her comrades.
If your parent or grandparent wants to visit a cemetery or memorial, don’t try to dissuade him or her. It may be sad for him or her in the moment, but bear in mind that such remembrances often provide a measure of healing or closure for veterans.
Regardless of whether your elderly relative served in the military, Memorial Day observations give your family an opportunity to spend time together. Let’s talk about ways you can plan a safe, fun and meaningful Memorial Day for your senior loved one.
Planning gatherings for seniors with limited mobility
Memorial Day celebrations and remembrances can be a bit tricky for families of seniors with mobility issues. By planning ahead and enlisting help where needed, you can ensure that your older loved one can be there to participate.
If you plan to hold a gathering at someplace other than home — such as a park, a cemetery or restaurant — make sure you scout the location in advance and determine whether or not it would be accessible for your parent or grandparent, especially if he or she needs a wheelchair or walker to get around.
Make sure, too, that you allow enough time for load in and load out if your gathering includes multiple stops. If you don’t schedule enough time and there’s pressure to get in and out of vehicles quickly, it could stress your loved one or result in avoidable falls.
Ideas for memorable Memorial Day celebrations with seniors who can’t get outside
What if your parent or grandparent is undergoing active care and can’t leave the rehabilitation care center? No problem. There are plenty of ways to bring the family gathering to him or her.
You could order takeout or bring a picnic lunch with you on your visit. Bring some fresh flowers, open up the drapes, let the sunshine in and put on some period-specific or patriotic music to listen to while you talk and eat.
You might bring a DVD with you to watch. If your loved one’s room or apartment doesn’t have a DVD player, play it on your laptop or stream one on your tablet device.
If he or she is up to it, take your parent or grandparent for a stroll around the grounds or the hallways. Ask your loved one to introduce you to his or her neighbors and widen the scope of your party. It could help your loved one to forge friendships with other seniors and lift those other seniors’ spirits as well
If your loved one is at Marjorie P. Lee, you can celebrate the holiday weekend with them by attending a performance by student artists from the University of Cincinnati - College Conservatory of Music at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29 in the Chapel. Click here to see more activities happening this month at Marjorie P. Lee.
There are plenty of things you could do with your aging parents or grandparents this Memorial Day, even if they can’t readily get out and about. Whatever you choose, remember that the main purpose of the holiday is not only to honor the service of fallen American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, but also to spend time together as a family, cherishing the bonds you have.