R’s 101st BIRTHDAY TODAY

We had the small birthday dinner R requested at her favorite place. Early in the day we got the feeling R really didn’t want to go out, Her mood was clearly not upbeat. That said, she has always been a disciplined person and I guess decided she needed to be a good sport and take the time and go to all the trouble of getting dressed up and putting on her make-up–not easy at 101. 101 BIRTHDATShe said her phone rang all day–I can vouch for that having tried to telephone her. She knew she’d need a nap since she tires so easily, and said she stopped answering the phone in the afternoon so she could rest. We were concerned about how the evening would work out. This photo may give a hint. But details must wait until tomorrow….probably after we fly back to New York. Every day we learn more about helping parents age well. Until tomorrow….

Aging Parents: LETTING GO and the CIRCLE OF LIFE

Dad and My Childhood best friend

Dad and my childhood best friend after Mom died

Dad died almost 11 years ago. We held onto the family home we grew up in so there would be continuity for my, at-the-time, very young niece. I was certain the home represented needed security and stability for her. I was also  trying my best to soften the loss of “Grandpa,” with whom she spent a great deal of time– often sitting on his lap in his blue recliner.

She was at the house most of the week after he died. When she asked why Grandpa died, I said something to the effect that God wanted Grandpa. An age-appropriate response, right? That 3-year-old memory, I realized, was much better than that of older people who would no doubt have forgotten that conversation. Her request of me several months later: “Would you please call God and ask him to send Grandpa back?”
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Memories came back in waves as Dad’s recliner, Mother’s china and various furnishings left our home thanks to the estate sale. Interestingly, they weren’t poignant nor did they engender sadness.

Picnic by the ocean: Mother (79) and me

Picnic by the ocean: Mother (79) and me

I have been asked often during the last week if I felt sad cleaning out the home. My answer: “No.”  Interestingly that was my brother’s answer also. Reminders of past moments and the people who were part of them take me back so many decades. Yet as a far-away-living child I knew my parents’ death was always a possibility and tried to make certain, as they aged, that there would be no unfinished business nor unspoken words as each visit ended.

I also think, as does my brother, that our home deserves a young family with kids–to slide down the banister and discover our hiding places in the big basement. And so I, a sentimental person, have done a pretty good job of letting go–I think.

Moving on happens. It’s difficult to control. Life in my parents’ home is coming full circle.

Family Photos

Family Photos

It will house a new family and children again. And my parents’ last gift to me is this mountain of stuff that–in the going through and reading–has helped make sense of much of my past…and our family’s past.

If your parents should leave you boxes and drawers to clean out, try to muster up the patience (most in my family can’t) to see this is an opportunity to fill in gaps and answer questions. You get to relive your parents as younger, healthy and strong. The illnesses and the caregiving recede. For me, it has provided closure; has made letting go easier; has been priceless.

Aging Parents: Alzheimer’s Blogs and Key Thoughts for Caregivers and Adult Children

An Unexpected Honor and the Key Thoughts

The May 24th email announced: “I am happy to inform you that your blog has made Healthline’s list of the Best Alzheimer’s Blogs 2014.  Healthline diligently selected each of the blogs on the list…..”

Neither Alzheimer’s nor dementia is in my husband’s or my family. And I’ve never written specifically about it or any other illness in my posts. The closest I’ve come to mentioning dementia is including links in the sidebar (“Of Current Interest”) to articles I’ve reviewed (some include dementia) from highly regarded medical school publications. So Help! Aging Parents takes special pride in the reasoning the led to including our blog in this “Best” list of 23 Alzheimer’s blogs.

Helping Parents Age Well isn’t just about helping our parents.
The information and insight in these pages is useful to anyone
who anticipates living beyond midlife. Key thoughts like “Will
these actions I’m about to undertake empower or diminish?”
and “Does the quick fix harm later goals?” inform all of blogger
Susan’s writing. Her focus on values and long-term solutions makes
for a good life-coaching guide and regular reading.

Since the “Key Thoughts for Adult Children of Aging Parents” list goes back to my early posts, and many may not be aware of their publication, revisiting the list makes sense.

KEY THOUGHTS

• The Right Start Saves Many Problems
• Will Actions Empower or Diminish?
• Get All Possible Information Before
• Does the Quick Fix Harm Later Goals?
• Is it Better for Me or for My Parents?
• Are Life and Limb Threatened?
• If the monkey wants a banana, give him/her a banana
• People Change, Not Much
• Think Airplane Advice–Secure Your Mask First, Then Help Others

Regardless of who’s doing the caregiving or the illness involved, the last key thought keeps us balanced and healthy and–ideally–better able to handle what comes our way.

For those who are fortunate enough to have fathers to celebrate FATHER’S DAY with, we wish you a day that is special; a day that will provide happy memories for you and for your dad. And if you don’t have a father, you’ll no doubt think of your father as I think of mine.

Perhaps there’s an elderly gentleman who will feel very special if he receives an unexpected phone call with Father’s Day wishes. As I write this I’m thinking about who I will phone. Father’s Day provides us another chance to give elders attention, so important in aging well. That should make them feel good. And doesn’t that make us feel good too?

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.  

 

 

Aging Parents: Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers–2

2014 Round-up of 45 Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers Continues

Cake by Esperanza

Back in the day when men “dressed” to go out–even to a baseball game–ties were a most popular Father’s Day gift. Indeed until recently ties continued to be a very popular gift. The more casual dress code the US has adopted, makes me wonder about the future of ties…they aren’t listed under “Accessories/Clothing” in part 1. Yet for traditionalists, this Father’s Day Cake complete with tie could be a creative answer for those who bake and like using marzipan. Can anything top making this cake as a loving tribute to a great Dad or Granddad? For those who don’t bake, my round-up continues…..

Hearing: Hearing loss is a problem for older people and for those who communicate with them.

  • Assistive listening systems: products for TV watchers who need very high volume to hear well (while others don’t). Click the preceding link then scroll down to “Assistive Listening Systems” if you wish to educate yourself.
  • Amplified Telephones =better conversation for all. This link provides a quick education as does the “Amplified Telephones” section of this U. of Calif at San Francisco Medical Center site.
  • A good audiologist’s contact information. Do the research to up the odds that the hearing loss will be diagnosed and corrected. Put the information in a gift box with the appropriate note and offer transportation to and from the appointment if you wish.
  • This  2011 NY Times article, mentions/praises Clarity phones, you might want to  click the pictures (amplified phones, mobile phones) for more info.
  • Googling “telephones for hearing loss” provides additional phone options.

Pampering

  • Starbucks’s VIA ready brew individual instant coffee packets–regular or decaf in 3, 12. or 50 packs for coffee lovers. My Dad would find them pricey–Probably wouldn’t buy them for himself.
  • A mug (perhaps with a family photo?) to microwave the coffee in.
  • Good bottle of wine
  • Wine refrigerator 
  • His favorite microbrew beer (a case?)
  • Massage
  • Professional shave
  • Manicure

Visionwe know vision changes with age; these gifts can enhance

  • Large print books (for those who still like the feel of a book)
  • An electronic book. Because the font can be enlarged–I hear it’s a Godsend. The background color can also make a difference so check this out with someone knowledgeable.
  • A Verilux lamp can be especially helpful for those with vision issues. Two people I know (one with advanced macular degeneration) have the “Original Natural Spectrum” floor  model and say the light bulb adds clarity and the gooseneck directs the light where it does the most good  when reading or doing desk work.
  • The mini-maglite, small flashlights that give great light in dark places.                             
  • Pocket magnifying glasses great for reading small print (think menus and the check) in dark restaurants. Pocket 3X strength magnifying-glass takes up little space, is light weight, not pricey (around $10 at Barnes & Noble), remains lit without having to keep a finger on any button.  Also check out the 5X strength ($9.99) from another mfg. Note: This guide for buying magnifying glasses for those with low vision can be helpful.
Here’s to successful shopping!
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.

 

 

Aging Parents: Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers–Part 1

Father’s Day sleeveless sweater vest cake made by Esperanza

2014 Round-up of 45 Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers

More gifts ideas for aging fathers and grandfathers–than I think a man could possibly want–have filled my posts over the last three years. I’ve reread them, remembering the time and outside-the-box thinking that went into compiling the list. 8 categories, arranged alphabetically: “Accessories and Clothing” to “Vision.”

Not needing to reinvent the wheel, I’ve updated the list and added a bit. It’s long now. I’ll post in 2 parts so it’s not overwhelming. Hoping that your shopping is made easier and that the aging men in your life will have smiles on their faces when they open their gifts.

Accessories/Clothing:

–Cane (measured correctly) or walking stick
–Hat (to shade a bald/potentially balding head)
–Sport shirt. (Dad liked long sleeve ones to protect his arms from skin cancer–a definite concern as he aged.)
–Sleeveless cardigan sweater vest (not over the head). Easier to get off and on if buttons aren’t a problem. Older people are often cold. Dad wore one at home. It also looked good under a jacket when he went out. (This style is hard to find…know someone who knits?)
–An easy-to-use umbrella collapsible–opens and closes with the push of a button. (Totes makes a good one.)

Computers–especially designed for seniors: Check the 6 options’ details in previous post http://helpparentsagewell.com/2011/05/28/computers-especially-for-seniors/ .

A-Plus Senior Computer
Big Screen Live
Eldy
GO computer
iPad (See Marti Weston’s  iPad for Dad posts not included in 2011 link above)
WOW computer
Pzee computer

For the even less-technology-talented, check out
Paw Paw and the
Presto Printing Mailbox.

Entertainment:

–Subscription to a Favorite Magazine
–Netflix
–Subscription to newspaper–financial, current local or hometown they grew up in
–2 Tickets to sporting events etc.–accompany Dad or make it easy for Dad to take a friend.
–A short outing with Dad (fishing trip, golf game, movie, zoo, his old neighborhood if it’s near–you might learn additional family history).
–Add a premium TV channel

Health/Hygiene:

–Membership to the YMCA or a gym
–Membership to Silver Sneakers
Panosonic’s Nose and Facial Hair Trimmer was older men’s most popular 2012 purchase according to the NYC Hammacher Schlemmer store or catalogue–($19.95)
–A good blood pressure gauge can be a gift that helps parents age well and may be recommended by doctors. Recently the easy-to-use OMRON intellisense Bp652 Series wrist blood pressure gauge (like the one below) was used on a patient at a doctor’s office in one of NYC’s prestigious teaching hospitals. Check with your, your dad’s, or granddad’s doctor before purchasing.Product Details

–A great pair of shoes for walking
–Pedometer. Hammacher Schlemmer’s full-screen pedometer $34.95 (2 5/8 Hx 1 1/2 Wx 1/2 D). Steps walked, distance travelled, calories burned, time elapsed, average pace–all seen at once, on one screen operated by one button.
–Toe Nail Clippers: for elders with still-steady hands who don’t have diabetes.
–This Guardian medication reminder was featured in a respected hospital’s magazine, sent to seniors in surrounding communities. Good idea for forgetful elders?

4 more categories to go–next post. Happy Father’s Day Shopping.

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May 2014 Help! Aging Parents was again a finalist. Check all finalists out by clicking the 2014 finalist badge at right. And many thanks again for your vote.

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.

Aging Parents and Memorial Day 2014

  MEMORIAL DAY–MONDAY MAY 26, 2014

http://i1-win.softpedia-static.com/screenshots/Free-USA-Flag-3D-Screensaver_1.jpg

Can we look into the hearts of old people?

Things change. Values change–both at a rapid rate. It’s part of today’s world and we deal with it. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the impact on our elders as we continue with our busy lives. A one-minute video, with no spoken words, looks into the heart of a WWII veteran.

In the old days the name, Memorial Day, and date, May 30th, were carved in stone– or so I thought when I was a girl. I didn’t know that before WWII Memorial Day had been called “Decoration Day,” although I remember hearing that name. The 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed “carved-in-stone” dates to days that would allow for a 3-day holiday weekend and took effect in 1971.

We’re accustomed to the 3-day weekends. We take the opportunity to get away for a short vacation. Some think Memorial Day is the start of summer. We have family picnics. There are fewer parades. In our hearts and minds we respect the holiday, see the flags flying, know “Fleet Week” has arrived in New York. But, unless we have family in the military, I doubt we can tap into what Memorial Day means to those who have served–especially those who served over a half century ago, still possessing the memories (told and untold) and the pride.

While that which old people hold dear is disappearing faster and faster, it remains in their hearts. I want to try to remember that as I interact with the elders in my life. Most of us won’t have that special commonality we see between grandfather and grandson in the aforementioned video. We have not experienced their experience.

That said, whether our older family members and friends are enjoying a family picnic, lying in a bed at home or in a care center, Memorial Day offers another chance to bring them pleasure, a chance to enhance their sense of self-worth by showing an interest in their past or asking about Decoration Day.

And for us, we may gather some wisdom and learn some history (possibly priceless family history), while doing our part to help parents and our elders age well. Another win-win!

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
George Santayana. The Life of Reason, Vol 1.

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.

 

 

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.

IMG_2967

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.

IMG_2973

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

Photos: AJ’s, CVS, Safeway
NYC 2013 Ralph Lauren window
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Easter Window

 

 

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