February has always been associated with love, whether it be romantic, familial, or platonic. From grand gestures to little acts of love, we find ways to show our loved ones just how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate their presence in our lives. However, ALTCP.org would like to remind our readers to remember our loved ones in long term care facilities as we welcome the month of love.
To help kick off the festivities, we have asked experts one question that will help our loved ones smile this Valentine’s Day:
- Seniors should be loved all year, not just on Valentine’s Day. However, this is a perfect opportunity to involve families in events as well as the community. Let them show their love by visiting, helping out with activities, running errands, etc. In the meantime, you get to spotlight your organization, too. – Anthony Cirillo, The Aging Experience
- One thing you can do is ask their family and/or staff to write down what they love most about their family member or resident and have [other] residents who like arts & crafts decorate large Valentine’s that will be used to accompany what the family or staff member does. You could ask them to put it in large type. Getting family members and residents themselves involved will spread the love! The staff is already overworked, so if they don’t have to do one more thing, it would be good.”We love you all the time, but since Valentine’s Day is in February, we thought we would spell it out now.”You could also ask residents what they want to hear about being loved and either use their recommendations for doing that or (and) making a poster with a compilation. If the answers are good, you can scatter them around the facility. – Sally Abrahms, SallyAbrahms
- Since many older adults have no family and very few friends, it’s imperative that housing staff and other residents with families:
- Include the alone residents in personal celebrations of residents with family
- Housing staff to drive and promote frequent visits from volunteers
- Encourage the alone residents to join in — seat them at tables with others who are alone, and make sure the solo residents develop their own sense of family and support
- Activity directors create family-oriented events with the alone residents – Carol Marak, Senior Care
- The holidays, especially Valentine’s Day, can be a tricky situation for many seniors. For those who have lost a companion, it can be quite lonely, and for those who still have a partner, it can be tough to rekindle that young romance that once burned so brightly. I think a great way to spread some love around Valentine’s Day is to make it a group holiday. Whether it’s exchanging cards over dinner or putting together Valentine’s Day party, seniors appreciate it when caregivers are willing to go the extra mile. One great party idea that many communities have been trying is to hold a Valentine’s Day dance or party. Caregivers will choose a specific theme, like “60s sock-hop” or “A Night in Paris,” to spice up the festivities. This is a great way to turn a long term care facility into a whole new world. – Troy Diffenderfer, Senior Caring
- Send a nice card with a handwritten note acknowledging what the older adult means in your life. Such a thoughtful and wonderful surprise! Prepare or buy a special treat, such as baked goods, and bring it to their home to share. Live at a distance? Send a care package with special treats. Set up a call or Skype/FaceTime session with family members at a distance and be sure to include grandchildren who live in another state. Fun game ideas below!
- Valentine Pictionary. Encourage participants to draw words or phrases related to Valentine’s Day for their team members to guess, like candlelight dinner, love birds, or love letter.
- Valentine’s Word Games. Search online for printable word games for your participants to work like a Valentine’s Mad Lib for residents to fill in words before reading the Valentine story or poem. In addition, look for Valentine word searches or crossword puzzles that can be used for a fun game to see who can finish their puzzle first. – Kathleen Steamer, BrightStone ElderCare Solutions, LLC
- Long term care facilities wishing to provide a great experience for their residents should perhaps start with taking extra special care of staff members. Overworked, harried, and underpaid staff members cannot spread the love in a long term care facility. Caring for those who give care can result in better treatment and outcomes for long-term residential patients. Compassion training or reminders in employee newsletters may also be effective in keeping things positive. Some anger management programs emphasize changing one’s interpretation of events to calm down when irritated. Frequent reminders that the residents are not trying to be difficult, that neurological and physical degeneration are the reasons for the residents’ crankiness or unreasonable behavior, can help staff members stay patient. Encouraging staff to interact socially with residents, asking them questions and learning about their lives and thoughts, can open hearts and minds to the humanity and personalities of long term care residents. What is more, residents will likely respond to such personal interest with gratitude and increased cooperation, making everyone’s experience more pleasant and loving. – June Sanders, Seniors Matter
- Visit older adults often! Nothing says love like being there in person and bringing joy into their lives. Make visits special by engaging in fun activities together. For example, sing along to their favorite music or spend time working on something creative like painting, coloring, or crafts. Arrange video chats with far-away family or friends. Bring a basket full of thoughtful gifts like favorite snacks or treats, family photos, practical aids for arthritic hands, hand cream, etc. – Connie Chow, Daily Caring
- While Valentine Day comes around once a year, spreading love to our older adults is a daily intention. A warm hello, attentive listening, being proactive rather than reactive demonstrates that love, care, and commitment is not just a routine, it is an essential part life. – Christopher MacLellan. The Purple Jacket
- We can do so by encouraging them to feel the love that is present in their environment. It does not always have to be romantic—it can be a love shared with a friend—but like this couple featured on USA Today, elderly individuals can find romantic love in long term care facilities. And they were able to tie the knot with the help of the staff. – James, ALTCP.org
- What if your funds are limited? Some of the best gifts are those of personal attention to the needs of the resident. What can you do for free during your visit?
- Offer to comb or style your family member’s hair.
- Give a hand or foot massage.
- Trim your senior’s fingernails.
- Write a letter on their behalf, stamp, address, and mail the letter.
- Read a story to your senior or sing them their favorite song. – Peg Cole, We Have Kids
Free Ebook: Download the entire list today. Includes four bonus tips not found on the list. Learn more tips how you can spread the love among older adults in long term care facilities this Valentine’s Day by downloading the ebook.
How are you spending Valentine’s Day?
Do you have anything else planned to make the day of hearts special for your loved ones? Which among the activities listed above are you going to do for your family members in long term care facilities? Let us know in the comments section! We and our readers would love to hear about your plans for Valentine’s Day.
Also, don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends. Let’s all make this day and all the ones after memorable for our loved ones in various types of long term care facilities.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!