Connections with others are important for aging well.
Research confirms that–time and time again. Can we help make it happen for our parents?
Two days before Christmas: Photo above taken at a family’s yearly, multi-generational party, Originally held in people’s homes, 4 generations numbering over 50–including little kids old enough to walk–and a few best high school friends of young married adults–eat, socialize, and catch up on everyone’s doings over the past year–now in a private room at a hotel. The far-away-living adult children of the 90-year-old great-grandparents carry on the tradition in the elders’ home town. They also supply some entertainment by telling stories and leading songs.
I’ve always been impressed with adult children who make the effort to increase and/or maintain connections for their aging parents. Two more examples immediately come to mind.
The daughter of a man we’ve known for over two decades, recently emailed to ask if my husband and I could join her and her dad for lunch. We’d been invited to his 91st birthday celebration last summer, but couldn’t attend. She remembered that and followed up a month later, emailing us with the lunch invitation. I notice she seizes every opportunity to plan social engagements for her dad with people he’s known over the years. She knows the more connections with others, the better. He’s in a wheel chair now; his vision is poor; his mind is good. He loves being with old–and young– friends
I write this with admiration for his daughter.. She’s the sibling responsible for his care. She lives closest to him–a good half hour away–with a husband and teenagers. That said, there’s no question she’s in charge, well organized, and on top of things. When someone asks about her dad, she responds “Why don’t you phone him, I’d know he’d love that.” More connections, more outside stimulation. She’s a parent-includer.
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I wrote a January post about the weekly bridge games my friend’s friend arranged for her 90+ year-old, now hearing-challenged mother. She obviously thinks creatively and rotates my friend and others in their age group in to play on a 3-week cycle. My friend says the elderly woman was an excellent player but her hearing deteriorated and many didn’t want to play with her any more. I say the daughter is a “parent-includer.” And my friend, she’s always ready to help out an older person or a friend.
The holiday season approaches…..a time of profound sadness and loneliness for many. On the other hand, opportunities to help parents age well by including them and increasing their connections with others are everywhere–when we stop and think about it.