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Fourth of July will be on Wednesday. Are you planning to do something with your loved ones who are in an AL/NH facility on the Fourth of July, like watch fireworks? How are your loved ones who have dementia/Alzheimer’s coping with the fireworks being shot off by the neighbors?


Mom and I live in a town of 10,000, and our town has their Fireworks Celebration on July 3rd because a neighboring town has a BIG ALL DAY FOURTH of JULY celebration and a HUGE fireworks display on July 4th. Since 2008, Mom and I would sit in our car in a parking lot where we could see our town's fireworks easily. Last year, Mom was in the NH and the Activity Dept. encouraged families to come and take their family member(s) to the backyard of the facility so we could all watch the fireworks being shot off at the County Fairgrounds across the street (which we did and Mom really enjoyed that). Mom has always enjoyed watching the fireworks and we would also watch the Fireworks TV programs from Boston and Washington DC.


But this year is different. Mom’s vision has gotten worse b/c of her macular degeneration. And Mom has trouble comprehending everyday activities b/c of her Major Depression with Delusions and Mild Dementia. I am not sure that she would even tolerate staying up until 10 PM to watch the fireworks. I don’t know what to do this year.


My brother and SIL will be visiting from out of state later this week and they usually eat with Mom at the NH. I don’t like to eat with Mom at the NH anymore b/c she has to have ground meat and her hands shake and she spills food frequently. I used to be able to tolerate it, but I can’t anymore. When my brother & SIL visit, we often eat in the Resident Dining Room with Mom. They sit on either side of Mom and I sit next to my SIL at a square table. I have to talk louder b/c Mom can’t hear me, but my brother frowns at me and tells me “Don’t talk so loud.” So I don’t go with them anymore when they have a meal with Mom.


It really hurts that Mom and I can’t celebrate Fourth of July like we used to. I am crying as I write this post. How will you celebrate Fourth of July with your loved ones?

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DeeAnna: Glad you were able to watch The Boston Pops, even though of course it was tearful for you.
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Since our fireworks display is on July 3rd, Mom and I would watch "The Boston Pops Symphonic Fireworks Spectacular" on TV on July 4th. She loved it. This year I watched it alone. I cried at first and then I was able to enjoy the music. I "DVR-ed" the TV show so that I can watch it again later.

There so many great memories from Fourth of July--"Black Cat" firecrackers (old style with lots of powder and "Bang") chasing Dad around the yard, helping Dad set up the fireworks display at the local golf course, being able to see the fireworks of other towns 15-20 miles away because the land is so flat, lighting fireworks in our front yard with Mom and Dad and my brother's family. Thanks for the comments. Happy Fourth of July!!
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A lot of elders enjoy watching Independence Day festivities on television, such as "The Boston Pops Symphonic Fireworks Spectacular." Many elders can sit and sway to the Grand Ole Songs of Yesteryear that are oftentimes played. They know these tunes because they grew up in an era when a lot of these songs were composed. My late mother was a very patriotic woman; she loved 4th of July Parades and the like.

Plus my maternal grandmother would have been 124 years old today!
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I agree with Harpcat. If you have to force it.....engineer it.....and it’s joyless.....maybe that ship sailed.

In my family, holidays took a certain tilt when I became a fully-fledged adult. (25+ years ago!) So many “shoulds” and “coulds.” But Mom and her lineage refused to drive on certain roads (the ones that led to where I live). Mom was also the world’s worst passenger, due to being a passenger in a car accident in the 1980s and refusing to conquer the fear it stirred up.

Piling on: Mom didn’t care for visiting others, because she insisted that everyone else’s furniture made her back hurt. And Mom was profoundly uncomfortable in any conversation or personal interaction that she could not control.

So the indoor holidays —Easter, T-giving & Xmas — were always at Mom’s. With all her attendant fretting about how “busy” she was. (Insert eye-roll here. Hasn’t worked outside the home since 1967. No volunteer commitments. Just garden-variety sh*tty time management. Which Mom spent a lifetime trying to turn into everyone else’s problem.)

So here’s me: Can I come the weekend before and help you clean? NO. Can we all bring sides/desserts so you only have to cook the ham or turkey? NO.

After dinner: Mom, the dirty dishes can wait. Join us in the living room. NO. How ‘bout you wash and I dry? NO.

Cue up the post-mortem, with Mom’s predictable “I barely had time to wash my face” and “it went so fast” and “I feel like I hardly talked to anyone.”

All true. But Mom didn’t know how to accept help. And wouldn’t take a jaunt over to my in-laws (kill 2 birds with one stone....and be a mere guest!). Wouldn’t come to my house on the “real” holiday or an alternate day, to mitigate the frenzy.

30 years and several funerals later, this dynamic was buried in the local memorial park — along with Mom’s ashes.

Mom’s last living sister goes on tangents about how great it all was — when I was 5 years old. (I’m AARP-age now.) I try to respond to Aunt with something constructive about moving forward. Aunt frequently misinterprets my words. I just let her prattle on. It’s not worth escalating. Or explaining.

As someone who jumped into a full-time+ career 48 hours after college graduation (and never backed off!), I’ve always chafed at being told how I should spend a precious day off. Regardless of that day’s significance per the Hallmark store or somebody’s church.

To each their own. The older I get, the less willing I am to shape-shift for someone else’s playbook.

At the core of it all, I celebrate OPTIONS. Shouldn’t we all? !!
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I realize this is a late to the party answer. When we try to recreate a holiday for the sake of the fact it’s a holiday, you might ask yourself "why?" My dad is now in the NH and although the activity director sent an email saying they are having a waffle breakfast for the residents and family could come, I decided not to. For one thing I don’t feel like getting ready to drive over there and then have to leave and drive another hour to a lesson I’m taking today. So I opted out. My dad was never big on July 4th and in fact some year's he ruined it for us by being moody. I feel he's had his 96 Independence days, and I doubt he will be sad to miss out on this one. At this point in his life he really doesn’t care. So I ask again...is this for you or for her? Many times we know the answer is "it’s for us." Cherish good memories you have of past July4ths and don’t worry about keeping up traditions. We have to learn to let go and be ok with it.
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Maybe you can enjoy music with your Mom to celebrate? It's not the fourth of July in my family until we hear the 1812 overture! And there is Sousa. And, of course, patriotic singalongs.
When my son was in kindergarten, they asked the children to draw a picture of their favorite holiday. He drew a picture of fireworks and a sky full of musical notes!
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I believe at Mom's NH, they will have a party today with cake and probably a bingo game. They've decorated throughout. I will go as per usual and feed mom dinner and hopefully be able to take her outdoors to the garden for awhile. I personally haven't watched fireworks in years and wouldn't dream of taking mom out to watch them with the niece and her kids. It would do nothing but agitate her, and God knows, I could care less. I may be able to see some fireworks out the kitchen window at this new apartment if I can stay awake to check, lol. I treat most holidays as I would any other day of the week and try not to get too depressed about how things used to be and how they are now. I have many good memories.
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It's Canada Day up Canada way and as near as I could tell the only thing celebratory at mom's nursing home was a scattering of residents wearing red and some special serviettes and place mats in the dining room... holidays are always extra challenging at facilities because they are often short staffed. There will probably be a few fools who let off fireworks in the neighbourhood so I told mom to listen for them, but by 10:00 pretty much all of them will have been tucked into bed for hours.
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My late mother-in-law, who was raised in France and was a teen-ager during World War II lived through the noise of the war.

When she moved to the States, she said she became very scared when she first heard people firing off cherry bombs as the sound was like fire power bombs, and fire-crackers would sound like gun-shots. In all the years she had lived in the States, she never got use to the noise. Then fire-works were being sold to the public, who would fire the stuff off days before the 4th and days afterwards.

Then the neighborhood noise would create havoc with pets. I think more pets are missing during that time frame and any other time. I know our recently passed two cats were terrified of the noise.

I use to enjoy fireworks when I was much younger.  Now that I am a senior citizen, I am more for watch the singing on the main 4th of July shows, then for the fireworks.
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Where I live, there are many places to see fireworks, but also MANY drunk and rowdy people are out driving too. Accidents and deaths every year on the local freeways. So, no going out to watch fireworks for our family. I buy some fireworks for the kids to play in the front yard, and just relax. Also, we want to be home to make sure no fireworks land on our roof and cause a fire.
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Dee, it's sad that this traditional celebration is compromised not just by your mother's health, but by the fact that your brother apparently has little understanding of the fairly standard need to speak louder to older folks with hearing deficits.

Perhaps he needs to be aware of hearing issues so that he can communicate with your mother; if he's speaking to her and she's not answering, he could misinterpret that. Or sometimes it's better if people just be with someone and forget about verbal communication. Silence can be "golden."

I've never been one to watch celebrations; fireworks have never appealed to me as an adult. I prefer the peace, quiet and solitude of nature.

And I prefer to think about the historical meaning, how far we've come as a nation (and how far we're retreating now b/c of a certain individual). America has changed a lot since the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Check out Google's search, with its everchanging graphic. Today the interpretation for the Declaration is all binary - 1s and 0s. Life has changed so much since people wrote with quills and ink to today when communication is often completely nonverbal. I've often wondered if humans will adapt by eventually losing their ability to speak, as hands grow stronger and more muscular to adapt to texting and other electronic communication.

My family are now primarily out of town; given the heat wave I have no plans to even consider traveling. So my "celebration" will be peaceful and local. The heat wave is expected to break for a few days, so I'll be out in the garden for as long as I can stand and work, or until the neighbors irresponsibly begin shooting off fireworks and they land in my yard.
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