Most of us remember being back in elementary school and the eager anticipation of getting a valentine from someone in our class. In we’d walk, with a bag full of our own valentines to hand out. And, inevitably, there would be that one valentine we’d receive without the giver’s name, leaving us to ponder who it came from.
The fun associated with receiving an anonymous gift is something we enjoy even in our older years. Whether it is a bouquet of flowers, a “secret Santa” gift, or a card on Valentine’s Day, these small, unexpected surprises have a way of lifting our spirits and adding a little joy to the day.
Can receiving a surprise valentine elevate your mood? Yes!
The staff and residents of Grace Point Place Memory Care in Oak Lawn, Illinois are out to create some of their own Valentine’s Day surprises with their Secret Valentine’s program. Residents have designed their own valentines to hand out to local Oak Lawn fire fighters and other first responders. And, members of the greater community are invited to send valentines to residents to brighten up their Valentine’s Day.
Pleasant surprises, by the way, are good for us, according to Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger, authors of “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected”. The book cites studies that break down what they refer to as the “science” of surprise. Results indicate that a pleasant surprise can trigger the release of dopamine, a chemical that can, according to Luna, stave off bad feelings. “When we invite surprise into our lives on a regular basis, we elevate our mood,” she says. And, according to studies she cites, it helps build a greater tolerance for “uncertainty” which can help reduce anxiety, especially helpful to those living with dementia.
Secret Valentine’s Day cards give memory care residents something to look forward to.
So, there appears to be some real science behind the pleasant surprise associated with receiving a secret valentine. And, for residents of Grace Point Place, the fun of anticipating these secret valentines adds a layer of anticipation to Valentine’s Day and something to look forward to.
At Anthem Memory Care communities, we are always looking for ways to bring joy into the lives of our residents and staff members. If you are caring for an aging loved one, consider surprising him or her with a spontaneous gift of flowers, a plant, or a mailed card or note. You may be surprised yourself at how much joy that simple act brings to you as well as your loved one.
Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day.
(In the top image, Shirley, a resident of Grace Point Place, takes a break from designing valentines to pose with a lovely smile in front of the Secret Valentine poster.)