Memorial Day is about more than barbecue and the unofficial start of summer. Beyond the sun and fun, the holiday carries a deeper significance: honoring the men and women who have passed while serving in the U.S. Military. Who better to help mark the occasion than beloved grandparents or elderly friends? Maybe they’re a veteran, had friends who served, or simply wish to enjoy some quality family time. With a little advance planning and a quick consult with a healthcare provider, these five Memorial Day ideas can be adapted to suit the needs and comforts of practically any senior citizen.
Flag-Raising and Moment of Remembrance
Put your senior front and center by making them Master of Ceremonies of two key Memorial Day rites: raising the flag and observing a Moment of Remembrance. Once you’ve roped the flag in the morning, invite your senior to help raise it—it should fly at half-mast until noon and full-mast from noon until sunset. At 3pm, gather everyone for the official Moment of Remembrance. Depending on their level of comfort with public speaking, seniors can say a few words or simply initiate the moment of silence.
Take the whole family to the local parade for the quintessential Memorial Day tradition. Arrive early to secure a spot where you’ll have room to breathe and easy access to a reliable bathroom. Seniors will enjoy greatest comfort in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, but it never hurts to bring a blanket just in case of wind or a drop in temperature. You’ll also want to pack folding chairs, sunscreen, and plenty of water.
Horseshoes and bags/cornhole are classic backyard games that almost anyone can play regardless of mobility. All they require is some aim and an easy swing of the arm, so even seniors in wheelchairs can participate. For something a little more athletic, try badminton or croquet. If the weather isn’t agreeable or your senior has a chronic condition that makes prolonged sun exposure unsafe, puzzles and board games provide an indoor alternative that keeps aging minds active.
Cherry Pie Contest
If you’ve got bakers in the family, invite them to whip up their best cherry pie ahead of your party. Barring any food allergies or restrictions, Grandma and Grandpa can serve as judge of the best pie. Outfit them with blindfolds and score cards to give the contest an air of formality, then give silly prizes to the winning chefs to carry on the fun.
Cards for Veterans
Studies show that crafting can foster mindfulness and bolster cognitive ability. Cardmaking in particular is an activity that enables seniors to enjoy these benefits and show their appreciation for veterans and military personnel. All you need is construction paper, markers, glue sticks, and stickers. If a senior has arthritis or impaired vision or handwriting, pair them with a younger family member for a bonding activity. Operation Gratitude offers detailed instructions for what to write and where to send your letters.