Passover and Easter 2016: Thoughtful Ideas and Gifts for Aging Parents/Elders

IMG_2981   2016   Easter March 27       Passover: April 22-30

Ideas for adding pleasure to the lives of Aging Parents and the Elders We Love

Small bunnies add whimsey to spring baskets. Wouldn’t they bring joy to aging parents or to seniors in a care facility?

We celebrate miracles: The Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion. The exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt with the Red Sea’s parting.

Older generations fondly recall traditions that brought family members together: Passover–with Seders and children hunting for the hidden matzo; Easter–with church services, Easter egg hunts for the kiddies, and a special Easter meal. The timing of Passover and Easter usually coincide. 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…
…If having an Easter egg hunt in the yard, invite family elders to join the fun of watching

When the Easter meal is at home and elders want to help, accept the offer. We know how good it feels to contribute, to do our part. And feeling useful helps elders age well.

Ditto for Passover. One of our now-departed Senior Advisors said proudly that she made: chopped liver, matzo balls, gefilte fish, and horseradish for the Seder. Not easy at 89.  Yet she said 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 in which children participate. Usually at home with family, it’s also customary to invite guests. Children read from the Haggadah and search for the hidden matzo as part of the ritual. Several years ago there were no children at a Sedar in Portland, Oregon. Who would look for the hidden matzo? Creative thinking perpetuated the tradition.

The oldest guests were sent on the hunt. We’re told that 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 definitely not least, what about the frail, isolated elderly who are confined to their homes or care centers? A visit is always welcome, of course, and bringing little gifts–perhaps a basket with  Easter treats or Passover macarons–while unnecessary–is a welcome surprise.

IMG_2977 Suggestions:

 Bring a little lunch or snack (“nothing big,” I’m told) to share while you talk (consider dietary restrictions if known).

…Easter-decorated cookies or cupcakes or fruit, nuts  or macarons (above) for Passover
…an easy-care living indoor plant–possibilities: (philodendron [sweetheart plant], fern [nephrolepis], spathiphyllum [peace lilly–wallisi variety] or kalanchoe)
…a flowering outdoor plant for a sunny indoor spot or patio (geraniums work for both)
–a bird feeder that can be placed near a window and easily watched (if there is someone who can keep the bird feeder filled)
…pollen allergies a problem? baskets with goodies (sweets, fruits, nuts–a game?

Easter and Passover celebrate miracles. While we can’t make miracles for our elders, we can give them something to look forward to if they know ahead that we’re coming. And if we bring a spirit-lifting little gift, it’s an additional spirit-lifter–beyond our presence. All contribute to helping parents and elders we love age well, especially during holidays.

 Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.


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