For many, the Fourth of July is a fun, summer holiday complete with cookouts, family, friends, and ceremonial fireworks. For others, including senior veterans, it can be a stressful day full of difficult memories or triggering noises. While the Fourth of July is meant to be a carefree day to celebrate our independence, it’s important to keep in mind the unique needs of veterans on this day. After all, our veterans are the heroes who have helped make this freedom possible.
We understand that there is still uncertainty and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19. Senior Solutions Management Group is sharing this article in the hopes that it helps you plan and celebrate Independence Day once social distancing is no longer necessary!
Senior Solutions Management Group, with senior communities throughout Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana, wants to personally thank all veterans, and their families, who have given up so much for our country. Here are some tips for celebrating Independence Day with the senior veteran in your life.
Talk With Your Loved One Beforehand
In the days leading up to July 4th, sit down with your family member and discuss how they want to spend the day. Some veterans may have traditions that they like to do, friends that they want to reach out to, or places they want to avoid.
Ensure that they are mentally prepared for the crowds and noises that come with the holiday and if they are not, create a plan of action to avoid these potentially stressful situations.
Say Thank You
Take some time to thank your family member for their service. While the Fourth of July doesn’t serve the same purpose as Veterans Day or Memorial Day, it’s still an opportunity to thank those who served for their bravery and sacrifice. Independence Day is all about celebrating our country and our freedom, and veterans are those who loved this country enough to fight for it. So, use this day to not only celebrate with a veteran but let them know how much you appreciate them!
Be Sensitive with Fireworks and Celebrations
While fireworks, firecrackers, and sparklers are a staple for Fourth of July celebrations, they can also be a source of distress for those who have PTSD. Veterans with PTSD usually have light or sound sensitivity, such as loud noises, especially those that are unexpected can be triggering and cause flashbacks.
While most veterans can mentally prepare themselves for the official city fireworks display, it’s the unexpected personal fireworks show in the middle of the night that can set them on edge. If your family member lives at home, consider putting a sign in their yard, letting neighbors know to be courteous.
If you do celebrate with fireworks or sparklers, make sure that you’re prepared should your family member have an adverse reaction. It could be beneficial to develop a few strategies regarding dealing with PTSD or flashbacks.
Attend a Parade or Military Ceremony
Another essential Fourth of July celebration is the annual patriotic parade. These fun, family-friendly celebrations usually include local businesses, marching bands, and floats, and can be a great way to spend the day with your family. Most Fourth of July parades also include some type of military demonstration, some even honoring all branches during the ceremony.
Bringing your veteran family member to a parade can allow them the opportunity to enjoy celebrations and festivities without being around too much that could cause distress.
In addition to parades, most military installations hold a Salute to the Union every Fourth of July. This can be a truly sentimental and commemorative experience for senior veterans.
During any Independence Day activity, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on your veteran family member. “Older adults with anxiety disorders often go untreated for a number of reasons. Older adults often do not recognize or acknowledge their symptoms. When they do, they may be reluctant to discuss their feelings... Some older adults may not seek treatment because they have suffered symptoms of anxiety for most of their lives and believe the feelings are normal (American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry).”
Pay attention to their behavior and observe their demeanor during fireworks shows or crowded parades. Fourth of July is a day for celebrations and festivities, but first and foremost, everyone celebrating should feel comfortable and safe.
Senior Solutions Management Group wishes you and your family a Happy Independence Day and wants to personally thank all veterans who have sacrificed so much in order for us to celebrate our freedom.
Our assisted living communities throughout the Southeast understand the unique needs and challenges of senior veterans, and our team is here to answer any questions you may have. In addition, our blog serves as a resource for those family members and caregivers who may need some additional guidance and support.