If there’s one thing I’ve learned since our elder moved into assisted living memory care, it’s that she likes a party. So do most of the other patients in her unit. Here are a few simple ideas to make this a fun event.
Storytelling: Have someone tell the story about Cinco de Mayo. Keep it simple, but let the drama be felt. The basic story is that of victory in battle. France wanted to collect on a war debt and invaded Mexico. The Mexican army took a stand at Pueblo, and defeated the much larger army. This wasn’t the end of the war; but it was a turning point.
Crafts: There are a lot of crafts that can be done. Some are simple, like a paper plate sombrero and others are more complex, like a piñata. The internet has many resources for crafts. If you’re a relative of a patient, talk to the activities director to find out which would be most appropriate for the people in your group. The link in this section goes to masks, fake cactus and a few other fairly simple ideas.
Food: While spicy food may not work well for the elderly, there are a few Mexican favorites that anyone can enjoy. Quesadillas are simple to prepare and don’t require spices. The easiest are simply cheese melted into a folded tortilla. Vegetables like onions, sweet peppers and mushrooms can be added, as well as meats. Epicurious.com is one of the best sites I know of for recipe ideas.
Music: There is a lot of Mexican music that could bring out the party spirit. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass is something many of our elders probably listened to years ago. If you can’t find anything on DVD, Youtube is a good resource.
Dancing: While the full traditional Mexican Hat Dance isn’t likely to be wise, a simpler version can be done to the same music. The first three steps are something that can even be done by those who find standing and walking a challenge.
Cinco de Mayo is a great opportunity to reach out to our elders in assisted living and in memory care units. These ideas can get you started and before you know it you’ll have a great day planned.