By Linda McAndrew RN, BSN • Director of Nursing
In both the Christian and Jewish religion, Easter and Passover are considered to be two of the most important holidays of the year. Both of these holidays signify hope and transformation and both play an important part in family life.
How can we help seniors with dementia become more involved in the blessings of the season?
Anyone who has a loved one suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s knows that the disease can be isolating because of the manifestations of the symptoms. These symptoms include memory loss, anxiety, and a decrease involvement in life in general. How better to help these wonderful seniors than to engage them in the many activities associated with both Easter and Passover. Here are several activities that may help.
One activity that can help with both memory and anxiety is to make lavender Easter sachets. The sachet pouches are created by filling premade fabric squares with lavender seeds and then sewing or gluing the open end closed after it is filled. This activity can be easily done with the entire family involved. Lavender can decrease anxiety and also help with memory. Because the aroma or smell of the lavender enters through the nose, it transmits signals to the hippocampus which is closely related to memory and emotions.
An Easter egg hunt is another way to help Alzheimer’s or dementia family members enjoy both filling and hiding eggs for younger children to find. Have plastic Easter eggs filled with various fun items including jelly beans candy and other Easter symbols. After the eggs are filled, help the senior hide the eggs in preselected places for the hunt. This activity will serve the purpose of involving everyone in the activity and can help the senior remember family activities from days gone by.
An activity that can involve all members of a family for Passover is the creation of a Blessing Bag. With many people standing on street corners and highway exits, the creation of Blessing Bags can be used as an activity for Alzheimer’s seniors and also to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Most Blessing Bags are filled with a variety of helpful things that can be easily gotten at a Dollar store. The following are suggestions for the contents of the Blessing Bag: 24 count zip lock baggies (to be used as the Blessing Bag), Personal Care items such a socks, toothpaste, tissues, lip balm, band aids, a packet of analgesics; Shelf-stable food items such as a protein bar that’s both crunchy and salty, fresh fruit; Printed items such as coupons for free meals, names, addresses, and phone numbers of local food pantries; Seasonal items such as hand warmers. By helping seniors with dementia create Blessing Bags they are helping to create hope for those in need.
Easter and Passover helps all of us remember that we all have a place in God’s plan in these seasons of hope and transformation. Happy Easter and Passover to all.