Aging Parents: Connections with “A Little Help From My Friends”

A quick call to my friend, Linda. “Any chance you’re free Friday or is that your bridge day?”

“You’re sort of right–sometimes it’s my bridge day and it will be this Friday.  Jackie’s mother is 90 and loves to play bridge. So I play bridge with Jackie and her mother –not every Friday–but when I’m asked and that’s this Friday.”

Enlisting Help Without Overloading Fiends

How thoughtful of Jackie…towards her mother as well as towards her friends. Linda doesn’t give up time every Friday–no doubt Jackie does and enlists different friends in such a way that she doesn’t over-impose on their time, when each Friday comes around.

Jackie’s giving her 90-year-old her something priceless, something special to look forward to–time with her daughter and several other women on Fridays. This not only provides socialization and all the good that accompanies it (fresh ideas, connections)  but stimulation for the brain as well.

Yet, it needn’t be bridge. There are a number of games your mother or father may have played in the past (majoong, dominoes, Canasta, Scrabble, Chess, Poker anyone? or Monopoly?). Resuming these games may be a way to pull a bored couch potato off the couch to become engaged again.  And children, grandchildren as well as other family members and friends can be scheduled to play in these games–the same way Jackie does it–without over-imposing. If it jumpstarts an older person off the couch and into a chair for a game, shouldn’t this help parents age well?

My friend, Monique, on the other hand, uses her friend, Skype, to connect with far-away-living mother. Monique’s 87-year-old mother has lived in a small medieval village in the South of France for decades. The way she reports it, her mother can expect a long phone call from her on 3 specific days a week, just after dinner in France (there’s an 8-hour time difference).

“You know being home alone in the evenings is worse for people living alone–no one to share with, no conversations. Someone that age, who’s alone–there’s nothing much at night for her. She doesn’t especially like TV, does read, but still….This way she tucks herself in bed after dinner and doing her dishes and waits for the phone to ring.” 

Monique continues: “Thank God for Skype! We spoke for 4 solid hours yesterday. I had the headset on so I was able to move around the house and get all the housework done, feed the fish, and water the garden.  That’s the way I can take advantage of her being 8 hours ahead–she’s tucked in bed and I’m accomplishing things around the house.” I’m thinking: Isn’t multi-tasking wonderful?. Note: Somehow this was cut short and published prematurely…the mysteries of  technology. It is completed, edited, renamed and reposted in its finished stated in the post that follows.

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