Aging Parents: P is for Prada; D is for Dumpy

Aging and Appearance: Clothes

Suddenly it happens! We find ourselves talking about our aging parents, like we used to talk about our children. “My mother is 90, stylish, has a Prada handbag,” says one adult daughter.

Think back. We recall that not all parents could honestly brag about their children, just as not all adult children can brag about their aging parents. Some parents will age gracefully and well and their adult children will be proud; others won’t and this often causes problems. Then there’s always a large group in the middle. That group is the focus of today’s post and several to follow.

If our relatively independent aging parents fall into that middle group when it comes to dress/style, let’s consider how we can ensure–without sounding critical–that they always look well-put-together. By doing this we accomplish two goals:

First, people are more apt to react positively to aging parents who look “in order” than to a frumpy, dumpy looking aging individual, because people react initially to what they see. This in turn can enhance parental self-esteem–and even confidence–as opposed to diminishing it.

Second, when we look better, we feel better and when we feel better, we look better. I think this is true for most–if not all–of us. So if we want to help parents age well, there’s a lot to be gained when they look well-put together.

It’s pretty easy for young people to look relatively good. But as people age, looking good takes more energy, more time, and more attention to detail than we might realize. The older they get, “the harder it gets” according to my eighty and ninety-year-old advisors.

Clothing styles need to be age appropriate or they look silly, or they may be dated. (Sometimes it’s hard to part with old clothes.) And clothes must fit properly to avoid the saggy, baggy, poorly-proportioned look that we often see. Sweat pants, which usually look fine on younger people, may feel good but can be unflattering to aging figures.

When we know it’s in their best interest, yet we don’t want to seem controlling or critical, how do we encourage aging parents to take pride in their appearance?

–We can go shopping with them and make it a fun occasion.
–We can become their personal shopper, with their permission, and bring them a selection of clothing to choose from (then return what’s not wanted).
–We can have a dress maker or tailor fit their current clothing to their changing/changed figure (taking in, letting out, shortening etc.).
–We can gift them with clothing on special occasions: three that come quickly to mind are birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Days, and Christmas or Chanukah.

Give thought to these ideas





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