Armed Forces Day is the day that we honor those who are currently serving in our military (unlike Veterans Day where we honor those who used to serve, or Memorial Day where we honor those who have given their lives while serving). Here are a few ideas from notjustbingo.com to try out with your residents on Armed Forces Day – Saturday, May 21st.
Begin the day by recruiting volunteers to help you decorate by placing red, white, and blue balloons throughout your facility. Balloons are the easiest and most inexpensive way to decorate, and having classic red, white, and blue balloons throughout will create an immediate and festive atmosphere. If you are looking for exterior decorations, place patriotic pinwheels or American flags in the ground along your facility’s driveway to provide curbside appeal. (Consider keeping your exterior decorations up through Memorial Day.) If you feel that you need even more decorations, begin a few days before by having residents make decorations like tissue paper stars or patriotic fans.
Once your decorations are complete, it’s time to focus on getting your residents into the patriotic spirit. Encourage all residents to wear their red, white, and blue for the day. In fact, consider hosting a fun red, white, and blue fashion show to award the resident who can put together the most patriotic attire. In addition, use the morning of Armed Forces Day as a time for your facility’s clubs to participate in patriotic activities, like encouraging your Baking Club to make tasty red, white, and blue cookies or inviting the Crafts Club to use patriotic beads to make necklaces for residents to wear for the day. Even recruit a few of your residents who prefer to do individual activities to make patriotic items, like assembling patriotic pins.
For the afternoon, host an interactive Armed Forces Day parade in your facility that involves your residents. Encourage those residents who want to be in the parade to wear their patriotic colors as well as any props that they might have. Invite those who do not want to participate in the parade to be the spectators, cheering on the others with mini flags. As Armed Forces Day is about honoring current military personnel, encourage everyone who is participating in the parade to stop and tell what they love most about their freedom and about the American men and women who are fighting for it. Encourage them to share a short story of themselves or a loved one who was in the military. In addition to planning a parade, if possible, invite a local military reservist group to stop by and interact with your residents. Plan an educational storytelling circle in which current and former (your residents) military service men and women swap stories and share memories. Later in the afternoon, schedule a special afternoon social – featuring the tasty red, white, and blue cookies that were made by your Baking Club – and invite residents to participate in a patriotic sing along.
Finally, on this special day, don’t forget about the kids. Saturday is the most visited day for most nursing facilities, and that includes visits from children. To get the grandchildren in on the celebration, set up a special table for them to use to write letters and to color pictures that can be mailed to troops overseas. Reward the kids for their participation by supplying them with patriotic favors like patriotic pencils or special mints. Kids can also make these patriotic Mason Jars.
notjustbingo.com is an online resource of fun, senior activity ideas for activity professionals of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They have been providing fun activity ideas online since 2009, and we continue to assist activity professionals across the country by creating meaningful and engaging activity ideas for their residents that go “beyond bingo.” Don’t get them wrong – bingo is fun, but we want to spread the word that there is more to life than just bingo. Overall, notjustbingo.com feels privilege to help activity directors better the living experiences of their residents while demonstrating that a senior’s quality of life can actually improve when they move to a nursing facility.