Earlier this month, twenty young students got together with memory care residents to have some Halloween fun making decorations and “super senior” costumes. The festivities were held at Grace Point Place Memory Care, an Anthem Memory Care community located in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
The young people are students from local Southwest Chicago Christian School in Oak Lawn. As is usually the case when we bring young people and residents together, both groups got much more out of the visit than they anticipated. As you may know, the benefits of inter-generational interactions are well documented. For older individuals, the youthful exuberance brings a breath of fresh air and energy. For the young people, interacting with someone much older can be enriching and inspiring. This can be especially true for individuals challenged with dementia. Young people, often without even realizing it, are able to reach people who otherwise appear to be walled off from conversations. That’s why at Anthem Memory Care communities we regularly embrace opportunities to open our doors to local school children so that they spend some time visiting with our residents. Good things always happen!
The recent Halloween decorating party at Grace Point Place was no exception. “This is a great opportunity for the young people and our residents to pool their creativity and get to know each other,” said Cortney Malinowski, executive director of Grace Point Place. “Along with wonderful costumes, we anticipate new friendships will result from it.”
A quick note about holiday decorations and festivities. At Anthem Memory Care communities we are ever aware of the impact that holiday excitement can have on individuals with dementia. Halloween is a holiday that can carry unexpected sources of anxiety for older individuals who are no longer able to make the distinction between what is real and what is make believe. Therefore, those funny ghost masks and oversized artificial spiders can be perceived as a real threat to an individual in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease. That is why we take extra precautions with our holiday celebrations to ensure that all of our residents always feel comfortable and safe. We urge you to do the same. If you have a loved one with dementia, pay close attention to his or her reactions and overall demeanor and make sure they remain calm and anxiety free as they enjoy the holiday décor and other seasonal touches.