Holiday Thoughtfulness and Aging Parents
A small bunny peaks out from under a flowered hat at bottom left of this spring basket, made by my friend. Wouldn’t it bring joy to an aging parent or to a senior in a care facility?
2011 Passover: April 18-26 Easter: April 24
We celebrate miracles: The Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt with the Red Sea’s parting. The Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion. Older generations fondly recall traditions that brought family members together: Passover with Seders and children looking for the hidden matzo; Easter with church services, children’s Easter egg hunts, and a special Easter meal. The timing of Passover and Easter are inextricably linked. The Last Supper was a Passover Sedar.
Holidays evoke warmth of family, feelings of togetherness. Yet we know holidays can be depressing for older people living alone, without children to visit or invitations to partake in family celebrations. On the other hand, opportunities for bringing pleasure to old and/or lonely people during Easter and Passover are many:
Attending Easter services together, then…
…dining at a place with beautiful surroundings that make the outing special
…going to a restaurant in town where aging parents who don’t get out much can take a short walk (walker? wheelchair?), window shop, enjoy seeing normal activity
…having a meal at home with family–togetherness, conversation, participation…
When the Easter meal is at home and elders want to help, accept the offer. We know how good it feels to contribute.
Ditto for Passover. One of our Senior Advisors says proudly that she made: chopped liver, matzo balls, gefilte fish, and horseradish for the Seder. Not easy at 89. She says 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 and there wasn’t anything left.”
Passover Sedars follow a prescribed ritual– usually at home with family and often invited guests. Yet there were no children to look for the traditional hidden matzo at a Sedar on the West Coast last year. What to do? Creative thinking perpetuated the tradition.
The oldest guests were sent on the hunt. And an excited 86-year-old found the matzo. While not traditional, life today with children and grandchildren living near is not the same as in times past. Adapting is the name of the game for holidays (and so much else).
And last but not least, what about the frail, isolated elderly who can’t get out easily? A visit is welcome and bringing little gifts, while unnecessary, is always a pick-me-up.
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
…allergies a problem, what about a basket like the one above?
Easter and Passover celebrate miracles. While we can’t make miracles, planning ahead and giving older people something to look forward to is an additional gift–a gift that contributes to helping parents and elders age well, especially during holidays.