The Valentine’s Project has been set up in order to help our elder feel a little better about being in an assisted living memory care unit. The idea is to bring her out to be with people rather than staying in her room watching television.
It’s a simple plan. We bought manila mailing envelopes and lots of decorations. Markers (washable recommended) and school glue (nontoxic). Each resident made (or helped make) their own envelope which can now receive Valentine’s.
At first this idea had very limited appeal to our elder. She works hard to get into the mood she’s in when we visit, and doesn’t want to let go. In that, she’s a lot like most of us. However, when we did the activity she came out and even participated a little. Progress!!!
Here is what we did so that you can adapt it for your own needs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Valentine’s Day. You can choose any holiday and/or create a celebration of your own.
Planning Helps: While we duplicated our efforts in a few places, both the Activities Director and I planned out what to get and headed out to shop. Most of the decorations were found at a local dollar store, which made it a lot easier. The rest was fairly simple, though we did check with each other before the event to make sure we had what we needed.
“That’s for Kids!” Two people…one of them being our elder…thought that the event was beneath their dignity. Our elder only agreed to have an envelope when I hinted that she might be getting Valentine’s from afar (her grandchildren). She did come out and watch. She also attempted to use my computer, which I thought was great as before she seemed allergic to the idea.
Getting Help: Technically speaking, these events are handled by the Activities Director and staff. In this case, I volunteered to help. If you’re a director or staff member, you may want to see if any relatives want to help out. It was a little over two hours, including prep time and cleanup time but well worth it in my opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask.
How they Turned Out: We had planned on putting each envelope on the patient’s door, but it occurred to us that this might not be wise. Some of the patients might forget why the envelope is there, take it down and toss it. We put them along the hallway and they look good. You might think they’d have a childishness about them, but I think they have dignity.
The Next Step: Next up is getting a respectable number of Valentines in the envelope. The folks at the facility will work with the patients. They will also mention them to family members so they can add to the contents. Final revelation will be on the 14th.
While this project is based on Valentine’s Day I’ve already been asked what I’ll come up with next. This question came from our elder, and it was rather in anticipation of a “next.” Keep watching…I’m working on something for St. Patrick’s Day…