Celebrated on May 29th, Memorial Day is a meaningful day to most people for a wide variety of reasons, but it is often a day that is most significant to our senior population. For the veterans who bravely served the country they love, it represents one of their proudest accomplishments. For those who lost a husband, brother, father, or another loved one they hold dear, it is a day for them to reflect on their loved one and remember the fond memories they shared. As caregivers or loved ones of the seniors that are impacted by this day, we want to make it a truly special one for them. If you’re looking for ideas on how to make this Memorial Day more memorable, here are a few options to consider:
Make a Memorial Wall: Whether a senior who served lives in their own home or in an assisted living community among other veterans, creating a dedicated space to display photos, metals, and other physical representations of the time in which they served is a very powerful and meaningful way to showcase the importance of a senior’s unique contributions to our freedom and safety. If your loved one lives at home, work on collecting these materials, then set up and surprise them with a well-appointed space dedicated to their service. If they live in an Assisted Living community, make sure their items are added to any existing Memorial Wall, or speak with the appropriate community representative about putting one in place that can serve as a remembrance of each resident’s contributions to our country. “We just recently debuted our Veteran Wall of Honor at both our Independent Living & Memory Care communities, and it was such a special moment for our residents and their loved ones,” says Debby Gooch, Executive Director at Beau Ridge Independent Living & Memory Care in Ridgeland, MS. “For those residents who didn’t have a photo in their old uniform, we were even able to track down the uniforms they served in and get a photo of them. That additional touch made the experience very personal and meaningful for everyone involved.”
Create A “Time Capsule”: For most senior veterans, the time in which they served stands out as some of their most vibrant memories. In working with seniors, we have been blessed with the fortune of hearing and gaining wisdom from the courageous and extraordinary life stories of our residents who served. These life stories and experiences deserve to be heard by loved ones and generations to come- so why not record them? For a Memorial Day experience that we can guarantee will be just as meaningful for you as it is for your loved one, sit down with them and a tape recorder, camcorder, or even your phone and have a long conversation about their memories and what Memorial Day means to them. Their great-great-grandchildren will thank you for this priceless gift.
Visit A Meaningful Remembrance Site: Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day, as it was traditionally celebrated by visiting soldier’s cemeteries and decorating their graves. If there is cemetery that is meaningful to your loved one because of someone significant to them, that is obviously the ideal site to visit; however, the act of spending time at any soldier’s cemetery or military landmark and honoring the individuals laid to rest there is a gratifying, fulfilling experience that gives seniors a peaceful place to showcase their appreciation and reflect on what the day means to them personally.
Observe National Rituals: A huge part of what makes Memorial Day so significant is the unity and teamwork it symbolizes among all the extraordinary individuals that banded together and sacrificed in the name of our great nation. Taking part in the traditional Memorial Day recognition rituals that are taking place across the nation allows seniors to feel connected to the cause and comrades that meant so much to them. Traditions to take part in include joining in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 PM, holding a dedicated flag-raising ceremony in which the flag is flown at half-staff until noon before being raised to the top until sunset, and wearing a yellow ribbon to signify support for our American troops.
We hope this Memorial Day is one you and your senior loved one will always remember!