Independence Day has come and gone for another year but the annual celebration of patriotism often can lead to different questions for residents of Manchester and elsewhere about how to properly celebrate, especially with loved ones receiving end-of-life care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice are always happy to work with our clients to offer them suggestions for ways to enjoy different holidays. This includes dealing with some of the challenges that might come up.
There are plenty of tips for helping loved ones celebrate final winter holidays together, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s. But there are fewer strategies out there for families or other loved ones dealing with some of the summer holidays.
Some of the basics are the same: allow everyone a lot of patience and make sure the larger focus is on spending time together at a special time, rather than mourning in advance. It likely is a new experience, since some families haven’t been through these types of situations before, where a beloved holiday will likely be the final one for at least one loved one.
Sometimes, it might feel strange for everyone to focus on having fun when there is an element of sadness around. It also might make everyone feel conscious since next year’s holiday will likely be missing at least one special person.
But mental health experts suggest focusing on the now can generally be nice and effective: rather than worrying about next year and who may or may not be around, do your best to celebrate a wonderful holiday and make great memories together.
For those thinking about ways to celebrate these types of summer holidays, consider these strategies:
- Beware of limits. Summer holidays are often extended affairs due to long amounts of sunlight and nice temperatures. But they also can turn into endurance events for people, which can be challenging for those with low energy. People may get tired easily, get sunburned, or get worn out. If you are planning ‘the best summer bash ever,’ make sure people pace themselves, give opportunities for naps and breaks, or even invite a guest of honor to come out just for part of the fun, not for all day.
- Beware of the noises. Loud, unexpected noises like fireworks on Independence Day may be nice to look at but could cause anxiety for people who might be trying to rest, stay calm or avoid disruptions. To reduce this situation, consider staying away from organized firework demonstrations or scheduling “quiet” events which are more mellow, such as a movie or music night without surprise pops, bangs, and booms.
- Share memories. If this is expected to be the last go-round for at least one member of the group, look for ways to capture their first-hand memories of past celebrations and summer fun. Maybe record someone sharing what they did when they were children or especially memorable activities. This can be a good way to preserve their stories for future generations and maybe even suggest new things to try or traditions to begin or continue. This year can even be the start of something new in honor of the person who is receiving end-of-life care. They may feel honored to be the reason to kick off a special summertime activity that everyone hopes will be repeated next year and in other years.
- Make a bigger party of it. Keeping the previous cautions in mind, summer gives some opportunities for even larger festivities. People don’t have to worry about snowy roads, icy conditions, or bundling up like they do in the winter. Guests may even have more time and interest for a summer road trip that might be limited in the winter. So, friends and other loved ones can come together, even people from around the country. It could even be an opportunity for an official family or school reunion since it should be easier for people to gather.
- Take a trip. The same can be true going the other direction: someone receiving end-of-life care might want to fill out a few last-minute items on their summertime bucket list. So, this could mean a fun road trip, maybe to visit someone special from the past or somewhere new that they’ve always wanted to visit. Having a trip with special people can give them some good memories as well.
- Be in regular contact with a loved one’s medical provider or providers ahead of time. He or she may include some restrictions for travel and medication or at least keep people from getting overwhelmed or overdoing things. Traveling companions also might need to learn a little more about their condition or how to be caregivers while traveling.
Overall, summertime can be a time for people to enjoy long, warm days and make memories. It might be a perfect time to gather and celebrate. Having a loved one receiving end-of-life care can create an opportunity for even more fun.