Help Aging Parents Look Better Part 2

Aging and Appearance: A Personal Shopper for Aging Parents? Who? You?

Z at age three in North Carolina already has favorite clothes…and favorite colors: pink and red. Ideas about what we wear seem to begin early. Yet not everyone is clothes conscious with a priority of looking good. Our Prada parents are, but aging parents in the Dumpy group probably aren’t.

Some aging parents would dress to improve their appearance if:
–they could easily get to a store (addressed in last post),
–they thought they had the money to buy new clothes,
–trying on clothes in fitting rooms didn’t take so much effort,
–they had confidence in their taste in clothing.
So what’s a child to do when he or she wants to ensure that aging parents look good, are less apt to be treated as “old” by strangers and have healthy self-esteem?

Take on the role of a personal shopper of course. Thankless? Perhaps. Professional personal shoppers get paid for their time on the job, have benefits if they’re employed by a store, and develop a loyal following if they do a good job. Adult children will forgo all of these rewards. Never-the-less, having parents who feel good about themselves pays other dividends such as contributing to their adult children’s peace of mind.

Older people may think a dated, perhaps ill-fitting, comfortable wardrobe is adequate. Those of us who hate to part with worn, comfortable shoes can understand this. So a key thought is to get parents to buy into the idea of your shopping to add whatever they’d like to their wardrobe. One 80-something-year-old widow said I would love it if my son said, “Mother, I’d like to buy you a new blue sweater…unless you’d prefer another color.” She liked the idea of a new sweater, she said, and blue was her favorite color. But being given a choice appealed to her. That, of course, is a small start. But don’t many things begin with a small start?

The more information we have about color, size, and style the more successful we can be. We also benefit from knowing about any physical conditions that affect aging parents’ clothing choice. For example, I remember a designer two-piece outfit on sale that became a real bargain when the coupon I had further reduced the price. It was Mother’s favorite color, her size. I bought it and had it sent to her, never realizing she had become self-conscious about her arms. To this day I don’t know if it was because they had become thin, wrinkled, flabby or what. And I was unaware she had stopped wearing clothes with short sleeves until she told me. Lesson learned. Ask your parents not only about preferences but also about things to avoid. Then make certain to know about a store’s policy on “returns.”

Since we want to avoid taking over anything while our parents are mentally capable (unless we want to create dependency), collaborating (a popular concept today) with parents makes sense. Initially it takes more time. Eventually we see what works and what doesn’t and develop the instincts of a professional personal shopper.

Who knows? We may decide to give up our day job! What we do know is that we can help aging parents to look good. And that never goes out of style.

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