Remember Aging Parents on Valentine’s Day

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Senior and granddaughter playing paino_12.jpg​​Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching! Those with aging parents, grandparents, or other elderly relatives may want to take a moment to make Valentine's Day special day for these senior loved ones.

The following are just a few suggestions on how aging parents and other seniors can feel more involved in this special day.

Cards from kids. Everyone likes to get cards, especially on Valentine's Day. Many seniors especially like to get cards from their grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Any card is welcome and appreciated, but those which are made by the little hands and fingers of a child have a special magic that is especially touching and heart-warming on this heart-based day.

Music. Surprise aging parents with playlists of songs that have special meaning to them: include a song that was played at their wedding, songs that were popular when they were courting, etc. For seniors who are widowed or unmarried, select other songs that have special meaning. For example, a song that mother used to sing her children when putting them to sleep or a tune that father taught his children to whistle. If a loved one has memory issues, music may sometimes help bring up forgotten memories or recall events associated with a specific song.

Decorate. String up some paper hearts, set out cupid-themed place mats, and light a few scented red candles to make the house festive in Valentine's style.

Bring out photos. Valentine's Day can be an excellent time to haul out those wonderful old photo albums (or the digitized versions of them) and to go through them with aging parents and other loved ones. Poring over photos is an effective way to share loving memories; for those with dementia, this may help to jog a few memories or help reinforce the memories they retain and delight in sharing.

Talk about other Valentine's Days. It can be fun to use this Valentine's Day as a springboard for remembering past Valentine's Days. This is an opportunity to ask questions such as:

  • What did Dad get you for your first Valentine's Day?
  • What was the most romantic Valentine's Day dinner you ever had?
  • What would you guess were the most valentines you ever received?
  • Who gave you the most surprising valentine and what was it?
And, of course, these questions may lead to other questions and conversations that can reveal new things a person never knew about a loved one.

Naturally, the level of Valentines' Day celebration with which a senior feels comfortable will vary from person to person; some may have sorrows associated with the day which prevent them from participating. However, many aging parents are inclined to enjoy the day, and taking a few steps to involve them can be quite rewarding.

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