Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to show a loved one how much you care. Perhaps you like to treat your other half to flowers, chocolates, sparkly gifts or just a sloppy card! Whatever you choose it’s a day when couples think about each other, share time and make memories. However have you thought about what this day can be like for an older person?
Valentine’s Day can be a difficult time, bringing back thoughts and memories of partners they have lost, or missing family members who are unable to visit. Relatives are often tied up with their own thoughts and plans at this time and it can be difficult to think how loved ones may be affected, either through loneliness or thoughts of times past.
Here are some ideas for how relatives can help an older person to enjoy Valentine’s Day:
- Encourage them to talk about memories and any people that they have lost. Perhaps they had a special place, a special film or a piece of music that brings back positive, happy thoughts? You can recreate these memories through photographs, view a movie on a tablet or ipad or play music.
- Bring or send a present or card, especially if it’s something homemade.
- The older person may not want to celebrate or be reminded of Valentine’s Day but it’s still an ideal opportunity to make someone feel special and positive – with spring just around the corner perhaps some potted spring bulbs such as hyacinths or narcissus will brighten up their day! It doesn’t have to be all red hearts!
- Spend time and chat – seeing a friendly and familiar face and talking through memories of the past, or about what the family is up to now, is a perfect way to show that you care and help to banish any depression and feelings of loneliness.
For a care professional it’s an ideal opportunity to learn more about a resident’s history and to be aware of how days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may affect their mental and physical condition. Getting to know the family can make it easier to understand a resident’s needs and reactions, and to support them as they want it. Face to face chats, whether by the carer or most importantly by the family, are an ideal way to bring a smile and to make someone feel loved and special.