On nearly every holiday, the recreation teams at Immanuel Lutheran Communities put on a show. It’s important to these staff members that residents feel the days are truly special and different from ordinary days. They do this by decorating hallways, throwing parties, and encouraging other staff to participate by wearing festive outfits.
Halloween is no different. Soon, hallways and doorways will be decorated for the season. There are parties on the calendars in all levels of living, and residents are invited to dress in costume for the day. Staff members are also invited to dress up, and there will be prizes for funniest, most original, cutest, best homemade, and best overall. This will be my third Halloween at Immanuel, and I can guarantee that it won’t feel like just another day.
This is great—the residents really enjoy the special activities, and staff like the change in their daily routines (and in the dress code!). However, there’s a challenge inherent in planning holiday activities for seniors. For many adults, Halloween in particular has always been a holiday centered around children. For example, elementary school parties are common, while school-sponsored parties are more unusual for older children. Trick-or-treating is (or, in this blogger’s opinion, should be) for kids. After a certain age, many adults participate in Halloween festivities mostly through or with children. Those that aren’t tend to be gory or alcohol-centered. There’s a risk, then, that any Halloween celebration will look childish or otherwise be inappropriate for seniors.
But Halloween at Immanuel is definitely not childish. It’s fun, and there’s candy (because no one outgrows a love of candy), but the parties do not involve children’s games. Decorations and refreshments are thematic but tasteful. More importantly, even on holidays like Halloween, regular activities continue. Residents can still attend their usual fitness classes, and Wednesday-night trivia will take place as always. Halloween certainly changes the nature of the day, but our recreation teams do a great job of making the day special without erasing all the other reasons that Wednesdays are special.
In a community like Immanuel, holidays like Halloween can also serve as chances to do things we enjoyed as children but don’t do much as adults (like dressing up for Halloween). When having fun is the grownup thing to do, it’s easy for grownups to have fun. So while it’s important to strike a balance between making holidays special and making them (for lack of a better analogy) too much like elementary school, it’s also important to not let a fear of “elementary-ness” get in the way of fun. Our recreation staff does a beautiful job finding this balance.