Aging Parents’ Gift: Easy, Thoughtful, Expensive—or Not.

Le Bernardin - New York, NY, United States. Delicious scallops in brown butter dashi. A must!

A Thoughtful Gift Than Can be Used Up: A Winning Combination for Elders and Us

It’s a custom that on birthdays my husband and I get to choose what we want to do. It’s always a wonderful day. This month I decided a meal at a fine restaurant was exactly what I wanted..

Expanding on this idea, we know–as people get older–they want to get rid of things, not accumulate them. So something that gets used up (like food) is preferable unless older people have specific needs.

As we were half-way through our meal, I overheard the mâitre d’ saying to the elderly couple being seated nearby something like, “Your children have arranged for your meal with us to be a gift from them.”

(My mind flashed back to the time we planned something like this for my parents who went up to Victoria, British Columbia for one of their birthdays. My brother found out where they planned to have dinner and I, credit card in hand, phoned the restaurant and asked that the meal be charged to me. It was a special occasion and–although far away–we wanted to have a part in it.)

Seeing the old man’s face light up and his wife’s big smile when the mâitre d’ announced the meal would be a gift from their children, made me want to take a picture. It would have been in bad taste, of course, so writing about it on my blog is the next best thing.

Thoughtful gestures. Gifts that can be used up. Expensive or not. A winning combination as we do our best to help parents age well.

For the remainder of August there will be one post a week on Tuesday or Saturday.

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

Far Away on Father’s Day: Lessening the Trials of Travel for Old and Not-so-Old

Traveling many miles comfortably is hard work, especially for aging parents. That said, being with adult children makes most Dads happy and proud. Is there a better Father’s Day Gift?

DSCN0789Gone are the days of short walks to the boarding gate, corsages on some gloved lady travelers, tasty food, and a feeling of security and relaxation–and even excitement– when stepping onto an airplane. This was the norm in the ’40’s and ’50’s. As Father’s day approaches I’m thinking how much my Dad loved when I returned to my childhood home where he and Mom still lived. That was pre-9/11. I’m also thinking about Sr. Advisor R’s flying “alone” back to NY three years ago for our anniversary–at age 98–and about the enormous effort it must have been.

First–Re: Air Travel

Equipped with TSA PreCheck to ease TSA’s screening, and my fit-into-the-overhead pulley and  under-seat-size soft-sided case, I embarked on an 8-day trip to the NW with my husband and returned to NYC last night. Shortly before leaving NYC a friend, hearing how happy I was to have TSA precheck and how unhappy I was about needing to navigate my pulley through seemingly miles of airport corridors, suggested a wheelchair. “I use them sometimes, when I’ve got a lot of stuff and don’t want to wear myself out before even getting on the plane,” she (not yet a “senior”) said. If Dad wouldn’t consider using a wheel chair until he was in his 90’s. why would I at a much younger age? Is it pride—or stupidity? I wondered to myself. IMG_4167 With so many elderly parents living far from theirIMG_4169 adult children, Father’s Day–as well as other holidays and milestone events–necessitate travel if families want to be together. Next post: Current TSA information to make air travel more user-friendly–   with suggestions for aging parents and elders we care about. In short, order wheel chairs ahead of time and go online to sign up for TSA PreCheck. Details to follow.

Aging Parents: Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers Part 2 2015 Update

Cake by Esperanza

Round-up of 50 Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers
continued

A tie!? When men “dressed” to go out ties were a most popular Father’s Day gift. While still a popular gift, today’s more casual dress code makes me wonder about the future of ties…they aren’t listed under “Accessories/Clothing” in part 1.
However, 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 Grandad? 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. (Costco used to carry them.)
  • Keurig Coffee Maker and coffee pods–a year-round, expensive–a gift my dad would never have bought for himself–a family-get-together-to-give gift perhaps. Coffee lovers, young and old love it and the coffee pods that can be delivered monthly.
  • 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/Pedicure
  • An easy-care plant–decorative and life-affirming
  • What about that Father’s Day cake?

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. They say the light bulb adds clarity and the gooseneck directs the light where it does the most good for 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.  Amazon”s Lightwedge magnifier gets same rating, looks similar.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.
  • White dishes make it easier for macular-vision affected people to distinguish their food on a plate, for example. Read: Contrast makes the difference
Here’s to successful shopping!
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: 10 Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts that Get Used Up–no Clutter!

Spending time with family–children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren–is what most older mothers want for Mother’s Day. Being taken out for Mother’s Day dinner with them adds to the pleasure.

What they don’t appreciate are gifts that become clutter–
–that they really don’t need or want
–that give them “problems” if they’re old because they need to figure out where to put them–
–where to store them,
–how not to hurt the giver’s feelings, and
–how to get rid of them.

10 Mother’s Day Gifts–that don’t last forever and are
thoughtful, eye-appealing, delicious, indulgent, exciting, pampering, practical

Pretty Packaging

 1. A pretty box* (she can recycle later to hold another gift for someone), with thoughtful card saying something like the Valentine message of several years ago: “I’ve put loads of love in this box. When you need a little, just open.”  Possibly accompanied by a picture of yourself/ family/grandchildren/ pet/hearts/candies–you get the idea.

2. Pretty, minIMG_2976iature-size cupcakes from the bakery (or DIY). Sr. Advisor R loves the looks and the taste–just the right size for an older woman, she says.

3. Nicely presented selection of special teas or coffees

4. Beautifully decorated box of favorite candy or R’s favorite candy (See’s which we hand-pick at the store, or the Sweet Sloops from Harbor Sweets)

5. LaDuree or other macaroons–eye-appealing, delicious, indulgent, extravagant

6.  Lottery tickets–exciting for some; gifted in a pretty box or bag. Doesn’t the anticipation of possibly winning add some fun to an older mother’s life?

7. Lotions/oils could be called pampering, depending on the cost. Older skin is at risk for dryness. Moisturizing products to the rescue. Know your mother’s favorite or ask what’s best for older skin. One 93-year-old swears by Aveeno. She says it’s feels light on the skin, while keeping it from getting dry.

8.   Perfume is not in style in some places. However, one 74-year-old grandmother has a favorite perfume. It’s one gift she loves, she says–and can use it up. Check out Mom’s favorite perfume.It’s usually nicely packaged.

9. Gift Certificates
–Appointments at the hairdressers–or at beauty colleges (less expensive), help women look better and no doubt feel better when they look in the mirror. Messy hair spoils appearance–no news there! Make arrangements, make a gift card. This gift can lift an older  mother’s (or younger one’s) spirits and get couch potatoes out of the house.

–Pedicures are a necessity when people are either no longer able to reach–or clearly see–their toe nails. Older women’s toe nails aren’t necessarily visible to us. Have you checked your mother’s? Old nails can get thick, hard to cut and ugly. It’s recommended–especially for diabetics–that pedicures become routine around age 65. What could seem like an indulgence for younger people, becomes a necessity at a certain age.

–Movie script and restaurants’ gift certificates get Mom out of the house with Dad or a friend for entertainment or a meal. Moms say a break from cooking is a gift.

10.  A pretty spring-themed box of stationery or note paper for moms who still enjoy writing, accompanied by attractive “Forever” stamps.

Flowers always seemed synonymous with Mother’s Day and I assume we’ve all gifted beautiful bouquets and arrangements over the years. While in her 90’s Sr. Advisor R said nicely that she no longer had the energy or inclination to dump the dead flowers and mushy water out and clean the container, even though she hated looking at drooping, dying, or dead flowers.

So we’ve given up gifting flowers. Admittedly, if I lived near–in addition to the chocolates–I would no doubt fill a pot with red geraniums for Mother’s Day and put it on her porch. (And replant or recycle when the plants died).

There’s still time to get these non-cluttering gifts and make mothers happy! And doesn’t this help them age well.

*boxes from Dollar-type stores

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

Related: Click “Great Gifts” tab under header at top.

Aging Parents: Mother’s Day Gifts–Fashionista or Frumpy Dumpy, What’s a Daughter to Do? 2015. Part 1

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

…So Thoughtful and One-of-a Kind

GETTING A HEAD START ON MOTHER’S DAY (5/10/15) BY REPURPOSING STUFF

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.

Needed:
–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.

EASTER AND PASSOVER THOUGHTFULNESS THAT HELPS PARENTS AND ELDERS AGE WELL

Passover and Easter: Another chance to lift elders’ spirits and Help Parents Age Well
IMG_1062

Grocery stores, drug stores, and Dollar-type stores have countless inexpensive items for Easter baskets.

IMG_2981A little cash and a little creativity, and ribbon and some cellophane if you like, can turn an ordinary basket into an unexpected surprise that lifts spirits and brings smiles.

   Passover  April 3-11
Easter April 5

The Last Supper was a Passover Seder, thus Easter and Passover are linked calendar-wise and as celebrations of miracles:
The Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt with the Red Sea’s parting.
The Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion.

IMG_2973Our elders fondly recall traditions that brought generations together: Passover with Seders and children looking for the hidden matzo; Easter with church services and children looking for Easter eggs. And always a special meal.

Holidays evoke warmth of family, feelings of togetherness. Yet we know holidays can be depressing for older people, especially those living alone, void of children and invitations to join family celebrations. On the other hand, opportunities for bringing pleasure to old and/or lonely people during Easter and Passover are many:

IMG_3007

Click to enlarge photos

Attending Easter services together, then…
…make the outing special by driving to a place with beautiful surroundings
…going to a restaurant in town where aging parents who don’t get out much can take a short walk (walker? wheelchair?), enjoy seeing normal activity and the window displays.
…having a meal at home with family–togetherness, conversation, participation…

…When Easter or Passover meals are at home and elders want to help, accept the offer. We know how good it feels to contribute.

One of our former Senior Advisors who lived into her 90’s, proudly reported that she made: chopped liver, matzo balls, gefilte fish, and horseradish for the Passover seder. Not easy at 89.  She said she was able “to work it out so I could make everything ahead.” And best of all perhaps for her, “It was a good feeling because everyone wanted to take some home–there wasn’t anything left.”

Last but not least, thoughts about the frail, isolated elderly who can’t get out easily: A visit is a gift in an of itself. Additional options:

IMG_2977…Bring… a little lunch or snack (“nothing big,” I’m told) to share while you talk (consider dietary restrictions if known)
…a few holiday decorated cookies or cupcakes
..an easy-care living plant–possibilities: philodendron [sweetheart plant], fern [nephrolepis], spathiphyllum [peace lilly–wallisi variety] or kalanchoe.
…a flowering plant for a sunny indoor spot or patio
…a bouquet of flowers

….allergies a problem? What about a basket filled with bunnies or matzos, and candies and a leafy plant.

Easter and Passover celebrate miracles. While we can’t make miracles, showing thoughtfulness to our elders is precious. (Actually it can be a miracle if normally unthoughtful family members decide to “buy in.”) And adding interest to life helps parents and the elders we care about age well.

IMG_2985.Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.