It’s the season of weddings, graduations and other family milestones. And, as family caregivers, we want to include our senior loved ones but sometimes health and mobility may not allow aging parents to participate in special events first hand.
Technology and ingenuity can help your family customize a unique and heartfelt way to include your home bound senior or loved one in family milestone and events. Here’s a few tips to get you started:
1. Host an intimate family dinner.
Gather close family and friends in a small setting the week or days prior to the milestone event. If it’s a family wedding, have the bride and groom bring their engagement photos, samples of some the wedding finery and a selection of some of the music that will be played during the ceremony or reception. If it’s a graduation, bring plenty of photos during the grad’s senior year and early years.
If able, encourage your senior loved one to share recollections of some of their milestones such as an engagement, early work history or special memories as a young parent. Also, ask to borrow a family heirloom such as a wedding ring or handkerchief during the ceremony.
2. Offer a toast, prayer or recollection in honor of your senior.
A wedding reception is an excellent opportunity to ask the officiant to offer a special prayer on behalf of elders, noting their contributions to the family. A brief toast can recognize parents and grandparents for their encouragement in obtaining prized goals.
Or, family lore may include a heartfelt or whimsical story about parents or grandparents that will lend to the celebration.
If a birthday or wedding anniversary falls near the celebration date, consider presenting a small cake and brief recognition of your aging parents’ own milestone.
3. The next-best-thing to being there.
Make arrangements to have someone stay with your loved one during the course of the event. Then, plug Mom or Dad into the live-action of the day by having live video opportunities arranged. Guests can offer well wishes and minute-by-minute accounts of the special day through computer-driven software such as Skype. Your home bound loved one can view the ceremonies first hand while offering their own congratulations and feedback.
The day can be made even more special if Mom or Dad are dressed in their party clothes. A smaller replica of the wedding cake, a ceremony program and other decorations can be provided by the family members arranging the Skype session.
4. Make a special visit after the ceremony.
If possible, the bridal-adorned newlyweds can make a quick visit to their loved one’s home following the ceremony. Don’t forget a slice of cake, a flower bouquet, and allow time for phot0 opportunities.
5. Video the special event.
Enlist the help of a budding videographer to memorialize the event from the senior’s perspective. A quick interview with the favorite grandchild, plenty of photos and footage of key family members can be viewed after the ceremony at a special gathering where updates of the honeymoon or new job are included in the conversation.
With a bit of imagination and creativity, there are several ways to include a senior loved one in the festivities of the summer while keeping in mind their limitations and comfort levels. Other considerations with a nod to our senior guests may include: ensuring the event is wheelchair and walker accessible, providing plenty of seating for receptions and appropriate food choices for senior loved ones.