Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day with an elderly loved one

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How to celebrate Valentine’s Day with an elderly loved one

Valentine’s Day is a special day for love and affection. While it’s often associated with romantic love between couples, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate love and friendship with your family and close friends.

Today is an important holiday for many people because it provides an opportunity to express love and affection towards others. It’s also the perfect time to give to those you love.

Origins of Saint Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has its origins in ancient Rome and has been celebrated for over 1,500 years. The exact origins of the holiday are unclear, but there are a couple of theories about its beginnings.

One theory is that the holiday originated as a celebration of the Roman god of agriculture and fertility, Lupercus. During the festival of Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February, men would draw the names of women from a box and be paired up as couples for the duration of the festival. Some believe that the pairing of couples during Lupercalia was the origin of the modern practice of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day.

Another theory is that the holiday was established as a way to celebrate Saint Valentine, a Christian martyr who lived in the 3rd century. According to legend, Saint Valentine was imprisoned and executed for secretly marrying couples in love during a time when the Roman Empire forbade marriages. He became a symbol of love and devotion and is said to have performed the first Valentine’s Day miracle by healing the daughter of his jailer.

Regardless of its origins, Valentine’s Day has evolved into a celebration of love and affection between partners, friends, and family members. Today, it is marked by the exchange of cards, flowers, chocolates, gifts, and romantic gestures such as candlelit dinners and declarations of love.

Valentine’s themed activities

Here are some Valentine’s Day activities that will make this holiday extra special:

  • Valentine’s Day Crafts: Crafts are a great way to keep your elderly loved ones entertained. You can have them make their own cards, decorate picture frames, or create love bugs.
  • Baking: Bake some special Valentine’s Day treats. You can make heart-shaped cookies, decorate cupcakes, or make a Valentine’s Day cake.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt with love-themed clues and riddles for your loved one to solve. This will be a fun way to explore your home and get up and moving about.
  • Movie Night: Pick out a love-themed movie to watch before bedtime. You can snuggle up on the couch, make some popcorn, and enjoy a night together.
  • Valentine’s Day Party: Have a Valentine’s Day party for your loved ones and their friends. You can play games, decorate cookies, and exchange Valentine’s Day cards.
  • Love Letters: Encourage your loved ones to write love letters to their friends, family members, or even their pets. This can be a meaningful way to show love and appreciation.

These are just a few of the many fun and festive Valentine’s Day activities that you can enjoy with your parents, grandparents or an older friend you care for. No matter what you choose to do, the most important thing is to spend quality time with your loved one and show them how much you love and appreciate them.

Movie recommendations

Nothing catches the depths and bounds of love quite like the cinema. A nice old-fashioned movie night is a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. These classic films from Hollywood’s Golden Age are widely regarded as some of the greatest films of all time.

  • Casablanca (1942) - This film is set during World War II and tells the story of a man who must choose between his love for a woman and his duty to help defeat the Nazis.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) - A romantic comedy-drama that follows the life of a young woman named Holly Golightly as she navigates life and love in New York City.
  • It Happened One Night (1934) - This romantic comedy tells the story of a wealthy woman and a newspaper reporter who fall in love while travelling cross-country.
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940) - This film is a romantic comedy that follows the story of a socialite who is about to remarry, and the three men who are vying for her love.
  • His Girl Friday (1940) - This is a screwball comedy that follows the story of a hard-hitting newspaper editor who tries to win back his ex-wife and star reporter.
  • Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - This film is a musical that takes place in St. Louis, Missouri at the turn of the 20th century and follows the life of a young girl named Esther as she navigates family life and falls in love.

These films are all charming and entertaining, and they offer a glimpse into the culture and attitudes of their respective periods. Take your loved one back in time and reminisce about the old romantic pictures.

Walk down memory lane

Valentine’s Day should be a day of celebration, but with older loved ones it can carry a lot of sadness as well. To love someone is an amazing feeling, but losing those loved ones can take a toll on mental well-being - especially during the holidays. Looking through old memories with older loved ones can be a wonderful way to spend Valentine’s Day and allows you to learn more about your elder’s past loves.

When going about creating a time and space to have a walk down memory lane you must create a comfortable setting. This might mean providing comfortable seating, good lighting, and perhaps some refreshments. You can also gather materials that might evoke memories, such as old photo albums, scrapbooks, letters, or keepsakes to make recalling memories a lot easier, especially for those loved ones who are affected by dementia.

Having conversations about the past can be quite a delicate matter so remember to actively listen when your loved one is sharing their memories. Show interest in what they are saying, and ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. Encourage your loved one to share their memories by asking open-ended questions.

Try to avoid leading questions, and instead let them guide the conversation. If you have any memories of your own that are related to the ones your loved one is sharing, don’t be afraid to share them as well. This can help to create a deeper connection and foster a sense of closeness.

Finally, be sure to show appreciation for your loved one’s memories. Express gratitude for the time they are taking to share their stories with you and let them know how much you value the memories.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day with an elderly loved one can be a wonderful way to show your love and appreciation for them. Whether it’s by taking them out for a special activity or simply spending quality time together, there are many ways to make the day special and memorable.

This Valentine’s Day, consider taking some extra time to celebrate with your elderly loved ones and let them know how much they mean to you.

Remember, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love and affection, and there’s no better way to do that than by spending quality time with the people you care about most.

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