Aging Parents: Mother’s Day Gifts–Fashionista or Frumpy-Dumpy, What’s a Daughter to Do? Continued…Part 2

Eileen Fisher has shops throughout the US (click Store locator)).Her high quality, easy-care knits are well-made, washable, pack easily and always look fresh. While expensive, you can find them on sale. Mine have retained their shape and fit over decades.

Styles are “today” yet–possibly surprising–sweaters are perfect for older women. I’m guessing (based on one pair that I’ve worn for a decade) all of her knit slacks have elastic waist bands and fit well on skinny or overweight women. Paired with a loose top and loosely fit cardigan sweater, muffin tops–as well as flabby arms–vanish.

EF’s sweaters and tops look good on all body types and all ages. Forget that the models are always young and cool-looking. 60 and 70-year-olds, especially larger women, love the sweaters (some come in brighter colors). The proportions are “generous.”  “Small” can easily translate to EF’s “PS” or “PM .” Because it may be harder to get the size right, if mom doesn’t already wear Eileen Fisher clothes, don’t buy on-line.

  • Try to find them on sale. Lord & Taylor (NY) often has them on sale (see catalog and website) as does Nordstrom’s Rack in Scottsdale, AZ which has racks devoted to high and higher end designers, including Eileen Fisher. What girl doesn’t like a quality bargain!

Added bonus: While it seems French women learn scarf-tying in preschool, American women often struggle. Thinking a scarf could nicely update a mom’s outfit (or our own), I’m including this EF video: 7 Ways to Tie a Scarf”

j.jill. Bricks and mortar stores (store locations) or catalog shopping,  Great merchandise for older–or youperfect V-neck tanknger–women. Check out their “Wearever Collection,” which received excellent comments from women 45-65+. Sr. Advisor R, still at 101, likes pairing j.jill’s tanks with cardigans, to make an outfit with skirts (she no longer wears pants).

Serengeti catalog shopping. Traditional clothing, like Alfred Dunner, for older women. Note the  sensible styles: long-sleeve jacket, skirted bathing suit, Alfred Dunner shirt and tank set (pants extra). Click the clothing below for details.

Swirl Pattern Shirt & Tank Set

Ocean Blues Faux Skirtini

And isn’t a zipper-front robe from Serengeti’s “Outlet Sale” a warm, snuggly way to end a day?

Happy Mother’s Day Shopping!

Floral Embroidered Velour Robe

Aging Parents: Mother’s Day Gifts–Fashionista or Frumpy Dumpy, What’s a Daughter to Do?

Look good, feel good. New clothes can lift spirits and that helps parents age well.

Most women like to look good, yet aging issues, including lack of energy, may dampen a woman’s enthusiasm for buying clothes. Mother’s Day provides a chance to update older women’s wardrobes. For fashionista’s daughters, shopping for Mothers is fun; for others it’s a chance to help frumpy-dumpies look good.

Have you noticed? older fashionistas dress skillfully to hide figure faults that accompany aging. Flabby arms, unflattering waistlines, sagging what-evers, are some of the culprits. Flattering tops (collar or not), with longish sleeves, can hang gracefully over a large waistline and/or hips. They can hide a multitude imperfections, as well as nicely pull an outfit together.

My 101 year-old mil’s favorite clothing catalogs (now on-line) are below, carrying a wide variety of  smart, well-priced clothing and accessories for women ages 50+++. No wonder they’re popular with many older women, as seen by the commenters’ ages.

Appleseeds– “Loved” by a woman over 75

Appleseeds: (855) 737-2574 –Read the comments as you view items you are considering. eg. 2 of 7 comments about this Appleseeds sweater: “Perfect Fit and Purchase Price. Love this sweater…..goes with any solid color….very pleased.” (Age 75 & over) “The soft colors of spring wrap you in warmth and comfort when you wear this great sweater. It is light weight yet warm, goes with just about anything…”(Age 65-74).  Machine washable cotton.

Pants, shirts, skirts, sweaters, jackets, coats, pant suits; accessories, handbags, shoes, gifts–you name it, Appleseeds has it.

Chico’s: (888.855.4986) store locator.The styles below can cover up many figure faults. 27 commenters ages 50+ to 70 make this “Kelli Cardigan” worth a look–especially at the sale price. The Caitlin Ruana is also popular with the 60-70-year olds, having average and curvy body types. (Click images) .

Kelli Cardigan

Chico’s Kelli Cardigan

Caitlin Crocheted Ruana

Chico’s Caitlin Crocheted Ruana

Draper’s & Damon‘s: (800-843-1174) store locator in 5 states– advertises “Chic comfort fashions for mature women.” Sr. Advisor R has purchased from their catalogues for decades. Click the link to view well-coordinated outfits, good styles, and popular manufacturers like Alfred Dunner and Brownstone Studio. D &D is especially popular with 54-75-year old shoppers— on-line, through catalogs, or in the 5 states where store are located.
     Women ages 54 to 75+ purchased and love this blue mosaic mum shirt jacket. Ditto for the Hand-painted Silk Kimono, which I just noticed is on back order, expected May 22. (If you love it, copy the picture and put it in a small box for Mother’s Day.)  Also check out  this SALE link, and/or Clearance link where this blue top is $19.97
                                              Fashion Signature Knits® Swing Jacket by Brownstone Studio®

Mother’s Day Gifts, What’s a Daughter to Do? continues with Part 2 on Saturday.

Note: Clicking on each image will take you to site and item’s details.

Related: Click “Great Gifts” tab under header

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.




Aging Parents: Don’t Miss Out on Tax Credits for Caregivers & the Elderly–Next Year!


I’m guessing we’re all relieved after readying and submitting our taxes. Yet I think it’s timely to feature this article which is well-researched, with informative links. While April 15 has indeed passed, some tax payers get extensions and can still benefit. Others can do as Marti suggests: save (and round up unsaved) expense documentation for 2015 tax returns next year. You will learn (or have reinforced) what merits saving in the article below.

Who takes care of the caregiver? It usually must be us. By making certain all reimbursable caregiving expenses are included on our income tax returns, we make a start. Additional money (saved through resulting tax credits) can give us a little wiggle room and that, in turn, can relieve some stress or enable us to give ourselves a well-deserved treat..

Originally posted on Dakota Travel Nurse Home Care:

accounting series- confusing tax formsToday being Tax Day, it’s probably too late for you to claim additional tax credits for certain expenses related to being a family caregiver during 2014, but it’s the perfect time to start collecting records that will prove the caregiving expenses you’ve incurred in 2015!

When Beverly drew my attention to three ND House Bills related to caregiving and the elderly, a big question mark lit up in my brain: “Was I aware of ALL the expenses I could have claimed, on both my aging father’s taxes, which I do for him, and possibly on my own tax return? Even though he doesn’t live with me, I drive him to a lot of Dr. appointments, and I oversee his care at an assisted living center that doesn’t give him quite as much assistance as he requires. I hadn’t given a thought to my out-of-pocket expenses related to being a family…

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Aging Parents: A Great Mother’s Day Gift–Inexpensive Yet Priceless

…So Thoughtful and One-of-a Kind


Don’t we always notice family photos when visiting elders? Whether at home, in assisted living, or in nursing homes, the dearly departed alongside fresh young faces of grandchildren and great-grandchildren occupy prime space. I’m not old enough yet to know if there’s comfort having them around but I’m thinking there is.

I love reusing stuff and this wonderfully-decorated picture frame caught my eye several years ago at my friend Linda’s home. She decorated it for her mother with an old photo of the two of them, surrounded by various mementos and “stuff.” Click photo to enlarge. Personalization possibilities are limited only by our imagination. 

When asked, Linda generously agreed to let me photograph her frame for my blog. Such a great gift for Mother’s Day, or any occasion deserving a truly personal gift. While technology has changed our method of taking and storing photos, I think frames will endure to preserve special memories. Clearly true for the older generation.

–a picture frame with mat (Linda likes black )
–a glue that dries clear and is strong enough to hold the weight of the “stuff”
–old photo of Mom and you–or your choice
–unmatched earrings, small brooches and pins, chain, tie tacks, college sorority/fraternity/honorary pins, buttons to fill empty spaces, whatever you can imagine.
–if wanted: a stand for the picture frame (stands now in “Clearance” at TJ Maxx store near me)

Years ago, Linda tells me, a friend– whose mother had died a short time before–asked a favor. She wanted to use items belonging to her mother in a way that would keep memories alive. She brought Linda one of her mother’s rings and other meaningful jewelry and Linda produced her first frame. Note: The matting inside the frame is easily decorated with some creativity and minimal skill. For those with no skill or creativity, gather the needed “stuff” together and ask a favor of a friend like Linda.

This is one of my two favorite gift ideas, the other being the personal note in the heart-shaped-box  that Monique shared with me several years ago; reposted every year in advance of Valentine’s Day.

Both gifts must make aging parents very happy. And doesn’t that help them age well!

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.

Aging Parents: Forcing Resistant Parents to Do What’s In Their Best Interest


Sticky subject requiring careful treatment. As a high school counselor I was no stranger to dealing with sticky subjects that could threaten life and limb. There’s a delicate balance between what we’re professionally mandated by law to do, and concern about maintaining a valued relationship and sense of trust that we’ve worked hard to develop.

Likewise, a delicate balance exists between forcing aging parents to do something for their own good when life and limb are at risk and maintaining a close, loving relationship. Plus–guilt can weigh heavily. Can we force resistant parents to do what’s in their best interest when they’re dead set against it, maintain our relationship, and have no guilt?


  • When elders don’t have “a good head on their shoulders” and their judgment is impaired. It’s painful but we must force them to do what’s in their best interest if there’s a threat to life and limb–their’s or other’s.
  • If our parents’ situation is significantly impacting our physical health–actually we have two choices: Bring in a professional caregiver to help full-time until we’re strong again (and get away for 6-7 days asap–break the stress), or shift responsibility to a care facility. If we’re psychologically worn down, do the above.               —Otherwise google to find family counseling agencies, explain your situation and talk with a social worker–possibly a geriatric social worker. Otherwise we effectively help no one.
  • When parents’ physical/health issues (eg. vision, balance, mobility) require living/driving changes to avoid accidents (risk to life and limb).
  • When awareness of terrible decision-making necessitates forcing parents to turn over financial or other responsibilities to us or someone we choose.


–The option of non-negotiable “force” is always there–unpleasant as it may be. With stubborn parents we may need to be “flat-footed” and use it.

–When parents are old and there’s no immediate pressure to change a situation, adult children who continue to pressure, find many elderly parents eventually give in.


One size doesn’t fit all. If we know ourself, one of the following strategies may feel right.

1. When parents strenuously object, if immediate change isn’t necessary, figure out how to back off gracefully, then tread lightly, slowly and patiently–working towards the original goal in whatever way works.

2. The straight-forward approach presents a narrow range of well-thought-out options (not dictated must-do’s). Parents are involved in decision-making. Begin with objective observationMom you sideswiped a car and had a near-accident this week. Then show understanding: Of course it’s upsetting; what do you see as options?  Next, listen, she may suggest something reasonable you haven’t thought of. If not, give options, making certain to include the most acceptable, realistic one you can think of, often involves a doctor–Do you need an eye exam? (If the doctor says vision is too ify to drive, s/he can be the “bad guy.”)

3.  The light-hearted approach using humorous exaggeration–I know you wouldn’t mind having a chauffeur-driven limo at your disposal every day and if we win the lottery it’s yours; but in the meantime we need a practical plan. Now go back to #2.

4. The majority wins approach is powerful; basically non-negotiable. Needed: at least 1 sibling, preferably 2 or more. If all–or 2 or the majority–agree on what to do, the message is something like: We’ve thought long and hard about this. There’s no perfect solution, but we are uncomfortable with your continuing to drive. Here are the options….”

5.  The easy-way-out: Have a respected “someone else” deliver the bad news: doctor? insurance company?

It’s difficult to be objective where family is concerned, especially parents. They’re our parents. We have a long history (good and/or not-so-good) together. There may be unresolved emotional baggage that prejudices us, compounding the difficulty. Knowing this is an advantage. Another advantage: we usually also know what pushes our parents’ ” buttons” and can consciously avoid it.

There’s one booby-trap: past promises that must be broken. If a promise has been made, never to put a parent in a care facility, for example, the difficulty is compounded. Click Mitzi’s promise–she wanted it shared.

We try to help parents age well. So does my blog. “Angels can do no more.” (Grandma’s saying.)

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.

Aging Parents: When Parents Resist Help and Advice


The short answer is “no”–assuming aging parents have what 101-year-old Sr. Advisor R calls “a good head on their shoulders” and they’re doing nothing that threatens life and limb. If we try to force something that even suggests limiting parents’ independence or autonomy, we enter dangerous emotional territory.  Consider the following–if applicable–it just adds to the difficulty.

If parents were alive before the mid-1950’s
Respect for elders was a given in earlier generations. Most adult children wouldn’t think of suggesting they knew what was best for mentally competent parents unless a doctor recommended it. (In those days there was such respect for doctors that men, who weren’t doctors, would make a reservation at a restaurant using Dr. [instead of Mr.] Smith hoping to get better treatment. Males far outnumbered female doctors.)

Today it’s common for adult children to think they know best; indeed feel entitled to make– or  initiate making– major decisions for parents without being asked: eg. when to stop driving; when to move; where to move. The implicit threat to elders’ independence can be explosive.

What is the motivation to force elders to do something? 
1.  our feeling about parents’ judgment
2.  the consequences of–and for–our relationship with parents (earlier, now, future)
3.  Parents’ age, health, near-accidents or scary events, a doctor’s recommendation or friends’ recommendations may contribute.

Possibly omitted, however, is this thought–
“Is it better for them or better/easier for us?” (One of this blog’s Key Thoughts. See right sidebar bottom). To elaborate:

  • Is it better for parents to live less long and be happy?
  • or to live longer and be miserable–or simply tolerate life waiting to die–because we’ve forced them to do something they regret every day?

Of course, intervention is necessary if parents do things that threaten life and limb–theirs or someone else’s. More about that in next post.

In my Dad’s case, it was driving.  Whenever I went west to visit my parents at least one person would  ask: “Don’t you worry about your Dad’s driving at 88, 91, 92?”

Memorable is the story Dad told me over the phone, not knowing I’d already heard–from a friend 3,000 miles away– a judgmental version because it was “all over town.” Dad was driving at dusk in June after dinner, on a familiar, very-curvy, 2-lane road with another old couple. A heavy Oregon rainstorm began. He pulled off to the road’s shoulder because visibility was poor, deciding to wait until the rain subsided. Dad said a young man stopped to see if he could help and suggested Dad follow his tail lights, which Dad did. Everyone got home safely.

Friends mean well. I did live far away. That said, Dad had that “good head on his shoulders.” Also I rode with him each time I visited and checked his car for scratches or worse (none). Plus my brother lived in town and checked. Dad gave up driving later on– on his own. (see post).

Same theme–different specifics. Sr. Advisor, R, my mil, still lives alone at 101 as many readers know. She has cleaning help 4 hours a week, a gardener once a week, and the most helpful, neighbors anyone could imagine. Unfailingly when someone asks how R is and if she’s still living alone, and we answer “she’s fine but life’s harder,” we get the same, fairly judgmental response–something like, she shouldn’t be living by herself–can’t she go to assisted living, or have someone live with her?

My husband is an only child. Understandably it would be much easier for us if she would agree to leave her home, but it’s out of the question. She values her independence and autonomy above all. Assisted living or a companion raises such emotion, we don’t even tiptoe there….anymore. We last tried a year ago.

Bottom line: We’re not doing what’s easier for us. We’re doing what’s better for her. And how can that be? you ask. She could fall. Yes. Does she have an alert pendant? Yes, but we don’t think she has it with her…it’s probably on her night stand—and yes, at least it should be in her bathroom. Yes, to Is she getting enough to eat? She doesn’t cook for herself, does she? Yes, she does.

As long as her mind is basically good, we have a choice:

1. Force her to do what we think best and have her be miserable each remaining day she has left on this earth–or

2. Respect her wishes, knowing the drawbacks and that she’s as happy and engaged as she can be in a world where she feels she can’t depend on things any more.

But she can depend on us to uphold her independence and autonomy as long as she “has a good head on her shoulders.” Whatever happens, we’re supportive of the fact that she will have lived life her way and we have done our best.

Related: Things to Do When Parents are Resisting Help  —an excellent article by a geriatrician.

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.