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cazzie's avatar

My in laws will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend. What can I do for them that will make it a bit special?

Asked by cazzie (19380 points ) October 1st, 2012

Just some background so you know where they are at: He has quite severe senile dementia and has been living at a care- hospital. She is alone now, in their home/apartment. She is throwing a party this weekend and there is going to be a good amount of people showing up. I am not just going for the party, but also to assist with work and arrangments, as she is wheelchair bound with MS. Any suggestions as to how to help make this a wonderful and pleasant experience for everyone? (including 4 grandchildren ranging in age from 12 to 7)

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13 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Take some board games for the kids to play.

gailcalled's avatar

Can you (or other family members) assemble a scrap book of old photos and any other memorabilia?

We just did a 60th birthday book of haiku and other assorted verse forms for my brother-in-law. He refused to have a party but was truly thrilled with his book. We dictated replies from the 3,6, 8 and 101 year olds., printed them and included them.

Can you ask the guests to write something short and sweet ahead of time and bring it?

marinelife's avatar

Go through their family photos and pick out your favorites or ones that would be special to them. Take then to a drugstore with one of those machines that blows them up and does things to them.

You could make them all sepia toned for example. Then blow them up and frame them in the same types (colors) or frames

Or put them in an album.

Or you can contact people they have known throughout their marriage and ask them to write something about the couple. Put those things in an album.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What I have found in a similar situation is that the people attending will be there to celebrate. That leaves the burden of responsibility on the shoulders of the party planner. Often, the attendants have no clue what is involved when the party is for two people who have disabilities.

First, is the father-in-law going to be attending? If so, is he allowed to be ‘checked out’ from the facility, and what are the expectations? We kids threw a party for Mom last year when she was in rehab for a broken hip, and the center required notifying them in advance, tracking medications given, and having her back by a certain time.

As for the party, delegate as much as possible. There will be other people who are willing and able to be greeters, on food duty, activities, and clean-up. Let them handle it. Unless there is someone else designated to the care of the in-laws needs, they need someone to help them out. This includes before, during and after the party.

bkcunningham's avatar

What are the plans for music, @cazzie? One of the nicest things we do for our parties is the music.

DWW25921's avatar

You should have a PEZ dispenser themed party! How awesome would that be? You could trade your doubles and get display ideas at the same time! Although this is assuming your family is as nerdy as mine. I still think it would be a hoot. Al least think about it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Have someone whose sole responsibility is the children, and will not be overly involved in the celebration part. This could be a young 20’s niece/nephew or older teen.

reijinni's avatar

play this special song for them. It might be a year early, but they’ll get the gist of it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

For my aunt and uncle’s 50th one of the kids asked anyone to send photos of the couple to them and they made a slide show on CD and gave everyone a copy of the CD. People with dementia can often remember old memories.

gailcalled's avatar

@cazzie: Is your husband their son? Will he be helping and contributing?

Re; your father-in-law with dementia, if he is gentle rather than violent, he may well enjoy being in the present for the duration of the party. There will be no long-term memory of the event, however.

cazzie's avatar

Many lovely suggestions, but I only have a few days,( it is this weekend) as I only found out about this party a week or so ago. Hubby failed to share. I think the other son has some sort of photo thing sorted out, but I am not sure. He and his oldest girl (12y/o) are making soup.

@bkcunningham Music is a no-no, for the most part, because MIL is deaf in one ear and if there is background noise she can’t hear a thing. Nice thought, though. You just made me remember something she does love, and that is fresh flowers, so I will substitute ‘flowers’ for ‘music’ in your suggestion. ;o)

@gailcalled Yes, my husband is their son. He will probably be used to go pick up stuff from the store, and get us booked on a flight to get there, but he hasn’t planned or done anything in preparation, no. He still hasn’t finalised travel plans for us to get down there, nor were we even sure he would be in the country, as he is in East Africa and just booked his flight home this morning and he asked me to NOT make travel plans for me and little man on our own. Cutting it fine, as always, he will be home Wednesday evening. He will need to book our flights to Oslo so we arrive not too late on Friday. FIL is very gentle and sweet, so I am very sure he will enjoy the day.

We have many of the things they had in their family home because we still live in the city they raised the boys in. When the family home was sold, Hubby ended up with many boxes of things from the old house. My MIL was a high school teacher and my FIL was a University professor and researcher. I found my MIL’s school slate and pencil box that she used when she was a little girl in the 1940’s. It still has old coloured pencils in it! I might find a way to mount them in some sort of shadowbox? I think if I dug around, I might find an old notebook of hers or a text book with her name on the inside.

bkcunningham's avatar

Well, despite the obvious stress, @cazzie, I hope everyone has a grand time and makes good memories. I’m sure just showing up for her and sharing the day will be a wonderful gift within itself.

bluiii's avatar

How about 50 balloons? 50 cards from friends? 50 cupcakes? 50 $1 bills with a message written on each from a friend? 50 small stuffed animals that can later be donated to a children’s charity? 50 hershey’s kisses with a message attached? 50 telephone calls from friends? 50 chocolate chip cookies? 50 small gifts from the dollar store (each individually wrapped—how fun to open!!)? Just a few ideas . . . Good luck!!!

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