Aging Parents: Able but Apathetic Older Parents

First Aid For Languishing Seniors

It may be puzzling when an energetic, productive mother or father succumbs to almost couch-potato status after retirement or another major life-changing event. But who wouldn’t feel bad and lack initiative when, to cite but one example, being able to drive anyone, anywhere, any time for most of a lifetime comes to a halt.

And while medications can help relieve this kind of symptom, especially useful if it has lasted over several months, the presenting problems remain–most likely under the umbrella of loss. Depending on the specifics of the situation–loss of a spouse or cherished friend, loss of a certain kind of control, loss of routine, loss of the ability to get involved at will in activities, and loss of the ability to get in the car and connect with friends and family and go places whenever–the inertia can be triggered. You can undoubtedly add to the list.

The question then– what can adult children do to help older parents become engaged again? We discussed jump starts in an earlier post. We know getting involved is a start and we know being with friends and family is, in most cases, good medicine. We also know that looking forward to an upcoming event may have as much psychological value as attending or participating in the event itself and can last over many weeks, even longer. It can begin to encourage an aging parent–or anyone for that matter–out of “the dumps.”

Thus, I want to mention several well-known events in the next few posts that involve travel (more or less depending on distance involved) and are special, memorable, and can continue to inspire well after the event has taken place.

Taking aging parents on a day trip, short trip, or vacation can be a highlight if it’s planned well and talked about in advance. The kind of trip I envision is sort of like a school field trip, meant to be enriching, but for adults. Unlike school field trips, however, and unlike organized tours, taking parents with you offers much more flexibility and individualization for them, the fun of participating in something together, and may cost less.

Today I want to introduce-because it’s going on now,The Philadelphia Flower Show (Philadelphia, Pa.)–renamed this year the Philadelphia International Flower Show. It was the nation’s first flower show back in 1829. Since that show, which exhibited a bird-of-paradise from the Cape of Good hope and a new plant, a poinsettia, from Mexico, international influences and contributions that have been integral to this awesome undertaking.

Listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (along with places like the Taj Mahal in India), it is extraordinary. It’s “on” this week and I had the pleasure of being there yesterday. At the box office a husband was overheard saying to his wife: “Are there senior discounts?” She replied: “Look around…almost everyone would get a discount.” It’s a favorite or it obviously wouldn’t have made the 1,000 Places book. And clearly older parents–and aging parents and old parents–enjoy it.

Saturday’s post will bring two more special additions to the list.

In the meantime, please share your knowledge of special places that aging parents and adult children can enjoy together so we can add the to the list. (Email me by clicking the helpagingparents address on the sidebar.) And if you’re in the Philadelphia area this week, give some thought to the Philadelphia Flower Show when considering adding stimulation, education, relaxation, and fun to older parents’ lives….as well as to your own.

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