Aging Parents: Mother’s Day Gifts for Mothers and Grandmothers–2014 update

pretty boxesSPACE-SAVING (except for one) GREAT GIFTS

While many aging/elderly mothers don’t want more clutter and don’t need anything for Mother’s Day, these gifts will be welcome and, except for the handbag, take up little room. They vary in price so “going in” with a sibling could be the answer for affording a pricey gift.

1. Photos are precious. Some aging mothers and grandmothers have photos on every flat surface and wall. Others not as many. But all will love a Photobook filled with family photos. Many companies (from Apple to Shutterfly–almost A-Z) will help create a photobook for Mom. How many have we seen on coffee tables? The older people I know love to go through them with visitors and friends.

2. One current framed photo of the entire family is a cherished gift, especially for mothers and grandmothers who prefer having one photo to look at in an easily accessible space. Again, less clutter than many photos of individual family members.

3. Brighton handbags, specifically “Memory Handbags,” feature a personal photograph that becomes a part of the handbag as shown on this link). Although a bit pricy ($200 range) grandmothers I know love them, their design and durability. These bags can only be ordered by physically going to one of the Brighton Stores and having an “associate” fill out the order form. It also involves bringing in the photo–which also means “takes time”– 4-6 weeks. Phone first to be certain the store near you can order them (I know some Brighton shops can’t take these orders).

While it’s probably late for this Mother’s day–it can still work–in this way (which provides double excitement). The Brighton link above, which is out-of-date, is purposely included because it shows you the bags. Don’t try to order from it. It’s important because a picture of the handbag can be copied from that link and placed in a Mother’s Day card for 1/2 the excitement. Full excitement when the bag arrives. (The Vanessa is popular.)

4. iPads again on the list. User-friendly technology for young and old–even those who are “roadkill on the information highway” but show some interest. If toddlers can play on them, most elders can too.

I warned–in the last post–a gift that comes with a “hidden agenda” shouldn’t be given to an older person. (The 74-year-old grandmother still doesn’t use her iPad; claims she prefers writing letters and receiving them; would rather “spend time with people than technology.”) This shouldn’t necessarily hold true, however, for a mother who’s technically challenged but interested. Reason:

A free, easy-to-use iPad app for seniors (not made by Apple, but carried at Apple stores, I understand) . It’s a simple way to start an older mother who could be “roadkill” into a tech-using-Older Mother. Check earlier post about the iPad for iPad-specific information and compatible printers.

5. A satin pillow case. I know my mother always slept on one. Never knew why. Seems, some say, it’s better for hair and skin. These cases aren’t an expensive gift, take up little room–and who knows, maybe they are better–assuming your mother doesn’t mind sleeping on a satin pillow case.

Related Posts: Holiday Gifts for Aging Mothers (clothing–look good, feel better)
Holiday Gifts for Aging Mothers–2 (clothing additions to make an





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Aging Parents: Easter and Passover Treats–a Very Short Outing

Happy EasterHolidays provide endless opportunities to help parents age well. Taking elders out for a change of scenery is one–especially for those who are basically housebound, mobility challenged, or don’t venture forth except for essentials like doctors’ appointments. It’s uplifting, muscles are exercised, and it can be exciting–like those field trips we went on in grade school.

First, simply being with others–namely us–is special, even for grumpy and depressed elders who don’t readily admit it. Second, outings needn’t be a big deal. (The biggest deal may be helping elders get in and out of the car.) But the outing is a big deal for them.

Ahead of time, while on errands, be on the lookout for colorful/fun displays. Check out  Passoverdisplays at markets, florists, and specialty stores. While upscale stores aren’t necessary destinations, these stores no doubt put more money into displays. Take note of the ones that deserve a return visit.

Bakeries offer endless possibilities for Passover and Easter. Treats for the eyes and the taste buds. What’s more beautiful or delicious than colorful macaroons? No doubt French bakeries everywhere have tried to replicate LaDuree’s beauties.

IMG_2976And who doesn’t love tasty little gifts! At 100, Sr. Advisor R prefers small. Several small cupcakes are perfect for her.

Cupcakes on a stick are different andCupcakes on Sticks certainly pretty. Men–at least those I know–prefer the old fashion size. Bigger is better. Note the two sizes above. Of course all cupcakes are not pastel. And some have additional decorations–bunnies etc.


While simply looking into the bakery cases delights the eye, what’s better than eating some of these sweets? And when shopping carts are available for less-confident walking older people, we hit a home run in our efforts to help parents age well: stability when walking; feeling normal (others use shopping carts); confidence to explore; exercise…and the sweets.


Related: Aging Parents: Ideas/Thoughts for Passover and Easter

Photos: AJ’s, CVS, Safeway
NYC 2013 Ralph Lauren window
Click to enlarge


Easter Window



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Help Aging Parents: Making Older People Feel Good

Compliments. Saying something nice to people about themselves.

I’d forgotten how much this means to old people until I heard an old person tell me–not once, but three times–about a compliment a “young person” gave her. It brought back memories of my father’s mother.

She was always telling us (perhaps not “always” but it seemed like it to my 10-year-old mind) how “pruddy” someone said she looked. I thought she looked old, not “pruddy” (pretty) and it made no sense. The point is, in telling us about the compliment so many times, I think in her mind she legitimized for us that people said good things about her. And I’m guessing that made her feel good.

Doesn’t a compliment makes us feel good, regardless of age? But when you’re old your connections to others shrink so it stands to reason you get less compliments (or “strokes” as they were called in the ’60′s-70′s). So a compliment can feel especially good to an old/older person.  It confirms people notice them, they’re Continue reading

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Aging Parents–Research: Wisdom’s Importance in Successful Aging

For satisfaction in later life–to age well, research has told us that maintaining physical and mental health, volunteering and having connections with others are necessary.

One researcher, Dr. Monika Ardelt, an associate sociology professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, wondered could people in poor health, those who’d suffered losses, and those “whose social roles were diminished”–age successfully or would they just have to “give up.” Her recent findings:

Wisdom is the ace in the hole that can help even severely impaired people find meaning, contentment and acceptance in later life.

The above and what follows come from an interesting 3/13/14  NY Times article: The Science of Older and Wiser.” It highlights research confirming the importance of wisdom in aging well–in part: 

  • “People who show evidence of  high wisdom are also more likely to have better coping skills …they would be more active than passive about dealing with hardship”

  • “….when people in nursing homes or with a terminal illness score high on Dr. Monika Ardelt’s wisdom scale, they also report a greater sense of well-being”

  • “True wisdom involves recognizing the negative both within and outside ourselves and trying to learn from it”

  • “Wisdom is characterized by a reduced self-centeredness”

  • “If you’re wise, you’re not focusing so much on what you need and deserve, but on what you can contribute.”

  • “Gererativity”–thinking about the next generation, giving back without needing anything in return….the wisest people do that in a way that doesn’t see their lifetime as limiting when this might happen.”

  • Whatever the nature of one’s limitations, simplifying one’s life is also a sign of wisdom.”

(Looking back we find that Erik Erikson, renowned for his 8 stages of human development theory, and his wife were in their 80′s when they added a ninth stage emphasizing wisdom.)

R, now 100 and a Senior Advisor to this blog, is the wisest person I know. She has maintained her mental and physical health as well as her connections with others. While she doesn’t volunteer in the literal sense, she is constantly doing for others–giving support– and advice (when asked), and little gifts. Her “Words of Wisdom,” posted a year ago:

  • As you age, it helps to simplify your life.

  • Know when to say “no.”

  • Don’t abuse yourself; you get enough from the outside.

  •  Don’t assume.

  • Take care of yourself or you won’t be able to take care of anything else.

Is it wise to say more? Perhaps. The above may give an idea of our parents’ wisdom. For specifics–and an “impediment” to wisdom, click the full article :

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

3/26/14 Help! Aging Parents was again nominated for a blog award. Click the top gold badge (right sidebar) to vote and view all senior living categories. Deadline 4/28/14



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Help Aging Parents–Finances: Smart Elders, Costly Errors

“The latest research on why even smart investors
fall prey to financial predators”

“Finances and the Aging Brain,” a March 28th article in the Wall Street Journal, is personally sobering. We not only need to have concern about our aging parents’ financial judgment, it would appear that Boomers and those older need to digest this article also.

The easy-to-read, interesting article (link below), featuring research from a Yale University neuroscientist, suggests the reasons why “highly intelligent retirees—even those with no signs of dementia—find it harder to distinguish safe investments from risky ones. Compared with younger investors, those over the age of 65 ‘showed striking and costly inconsistencies’ in their financial behavior, according to a study of 135 subjects led by Ifat Levy, a neuroscientist who has conducted experiments on this topic.”


(While I can only count on writing a post once a week for the time being, I will try to highlight certain articles of interest before placing their link in the “Of Current Interest” column in the sidebar at right.)

RELATED: WSJ 3/28/14  

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

3/26/14 Help! Aging Parents was again nominated for a blog award. Click the top gold badge (right sidebar) to vote and view all senior living categories. Deadline 4/28/14

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When Aging Parents Can No Longer “Do.” Ways To Empower So They Can Continue to “Do.”

“No one likes to see a lessening of themself.”

I’ve never forgotten one particular counseling course, taken at Teachers College many years ago.  We were told how important it is NOT to take something away (from one’s psychological foundation–that which gives one psychological strength/confidence in daily life) without replacing it with something positive/helpful. To take something away and not replace it, weakens the foundation.

Normal age-related changes cause a lessening: ie. vision, hearing, energy, flexibility, strength– not a literal taking away. However, as we try to help parents age well and we become aware of the “lessening,” (which parents may have tried to cover up–think driving), doesn’t it make sense to look for ways to support or replace so elders can continue to “do?” This probably means empower or substitute.

But how? While we know one size doesn’t fit all, we can do some of the leg-work and perhaps partner in the final “doing.”

Five Examples

1.  Julia, a noted master gardener and very proud woman– then in her 80′s– had less energy, less muscle strength and was physically less flexible. Bending and digging in her garden was painful and difficult. As a Mother’s Day gift, her adult children accompanied Julia (she still drove) to the nursery where she selected the plants, then planted Julia’s garden. Julia could continue to pick and enjoy the vegetables and flowers and pull a few weeds when she wanted to. With her children doing the physical labor, Julia  continued to do what she loved.

2.  Karen was an instinctively supportive daughter. She always bought more than she needed when items were on sale at the grocery store. Her mother (87) loved cooking, but food shopping was difficult and tiring, especially in NYC with taxis involved. So Karen, who worked full-time, would plan–on a weekly basis– an afternoon, take the “extras” to her mother and they’d cook together. Karen’s mother could continue to “do.” Priceless togetherness–plus her mother had a new supply of nutritious, delicious prepared food–some of which they froze.

3.  Failing hearing was creating a significant loss for Linda’s friend’s mother, whose mainstay was playing bridge. Her bridge group no longer wanted to play with her because of her hearing loss. The friend’s idea: replace  She continued her mother’s weekly bridge games–by asking 6 good friends to play in every-other-week rotations. (See “How a Good Friend Helps.”)

4.  Mobility problems can cause additional problems from falling to isolation. Thus how we support and substitute is key. If it isn’t easy for elders (and those who transport them) to get around, they don’t.  This means doing the research and getting it as right as possible the first time. Translated: initially buying the best required equipment, making certain it’s adjusted so the fit is right, and making certain one uses it correctly–especially canes and walkers (light-weight ones, heavier ones with a basket or tray and/or seat); and wheelchairs (companion wheelchairs, “regular” wheelchairs).  For still-driving people, perhaps a mini-van, whose back area easily accommodates a wheel chair (and obviously a walker), makes everything more doable.

(A polio victim’s son found a used Chrysler Town and Country mini-van for his 74-year-old mother, with a remote that opens/closes doors and the tailgate and a pushbutton inside that opens/closes the aforementioned. She has continued her life, causing little additional burden to anyone.)

5.  Safe driving requires good vision, hearing and reflexes. Carefully-planned solutions need to be substituted or the result is isolation or unsafe driving. One daughter offered transportation for social outings when parents no longer drove at night. Since she or her siblings needed to know ahead of time, they and the parents decided on the one night parents would go out each week.  With advanced notice they’d make themselves available 1-2 additional nights.

Towns/cities provide transportation services for seniors. Getting them to replace being able to jump into the car and go at will with a bus schedule can be difficult. That said, Aunt Mildred took the bus downtown to the Beauty School in Portland until she was in her early 90′s (and baked cookies for the drivers). When she moved to assisted living, a small bus came, by appointment, so she could continue her hair appointments at the Beauty School (where she also enjoyed gossip, and her manicure).

Creative thinking isn’t everyone’s forte. But we can tap our parents’ doctors, out-of-the-box-thinking friends with aging parents, and professionals specializing in geriatrics (ie. geriatric social workers) for ideas to supplement the “lessening”—as we try to help parents age well by continuing to “do.”

RELATED:  Mayo Clinic article on Canes
                        NY Times article re: problems from non-fitting canes
                        How to buy a cane
                        The Right Cane for Aging Parents  8/13/11 Help! Aging Parents

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

3/26/14 Help! Aging Parents was again nominated for a blog award. Click the top gold badge (right sidebar) to vote and view all senior living categories. Deadline 4/28/14. Thanks.



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Post Postponed until Tuesday

Life has been getting in the way……

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