Aging Parents: Older Women’s Hair Revisited–with 2014 additions

Hair. A focus of women, regardless of age.
Look Good. Feel Better

Tips for appropriate cuts and gray hair, coupled with advice from medical professionals and top stylists to help women look good and age well.

I remember hearing that at one time the “wisdom” of the day for women (mostly until  the last half  of the 20th century) was that going out and buying a new hat would make ladies feel better. Hats were in style for over half of the 20th century. Can we deduce hats could hide a bad hair day, helped women look stylish, and therefore provided a psychological lift in an era when therapy was not stylish?

Minus a hat, isn’t the search for ways to make hair look good–or draw attention away from bad hair–a constant? (Actually, isn’t this true for all perceived inadequacies–be they inadequacies of body, limbs, skin, face, or hair–especially as we age?)

Internet articles to the rescue

Help! Aging Parents has written about aging women’s hair care, hair loss, hair styles, and hair enhancement quoting tricologists, MD’s and other hair experts and stylists (see RELATED below). As Time Goes By has a series of very good posts (below). In September offered “7 Secrets to the Haircut that Will Make You Look Younger” ( It was recently republished, with additional edits, in the 3/7/14 Huffington Post ( Key difference in the 2 posts is found in “Healthy Ends are Younger-Looking…” section.

An earlier HP article “Gray Hair Styling Tips,” can be found by scrolling below the 3/7/14 piece. It no doubt provides worthwhile tips for those who color their hair (eg. “shampoo once a week and just conditioner and water the other days:); yet I question whether this applies to those who have let their hair gray naturally.

Reason: Some on Mother’s side of the family have a prematurely-gray gene. We’ve had graying hair for so long. (Fun to see played out in our late-30’s at a first-ever family reunion.) I think those of us who haven’t colored our hair simply made adjustments as needed, learning what works best. For example, I question “…shampoo just once a week and just conditioner and water on the other days.” The rationale may be that it dries out the scalp (skin). The elders in my 90-year-old aunt’s assisted living facility were bathed/showered once a week for that reason. Check with a doctor if in doubt about a parent’s aging scalp (skin).

“Look good, feel better.” Isn’t it a given, regardless of age? Yet looking good takes on additional importance as parents age, slow down, see less well, hear less well, and lose many things that were previously taken for granted while acquiring wrinkles, thinning hair etc..  With good information we can be there to help.

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3/26/14 Help! Aging Parents has been nominated for 2014 “Best Blogs by Individuals” recognition and we would appreciate your vote by 4/28 if you’re on Facebook. We were honored to be judged part of a 3-way tie for first runner-up last year thanks to your votes which took us to the judging round. Click top badge at right to view a universe of helpful aging blogs and resources, even if you can’t vote on Facebook.

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Timely links to research and information from top universities, plus some fun stuff to help parents age well.

(Please note: Because I will be going between the Southwest and Northwest for several months, most likely I can post only once a week for the time being. It will be on Tuesday or a Saturday–just not both.)

Ronni Bennett’s 3-part series on her search for dealing with hair-loss.
Up Close and Personal with 7 instructive tips The More link is one of the best I’ve read, with information from dermatologists (MD’s, one a professor) that answers many questions.


VELCRO– for Aging Fashionistas and Those with Old Fingers

Pure Jill easy zip-front poncho
Soft, hooded style, side snap closures, two-way front zipper

Sr. Advisor R, during the week between her 100th birthday and her party the next weekend, couldn’t help giving me more advice when she proclaimed: “VELCRO” in much the same way as I remember “PLASTICS” in the 1960’s classic movie, “The Graduate.”

R said I had to write about the virtue of Velcro for old people.     OK!

Wearing apparel–from head to toe with buttons and hooks and eyes and buckles–is a challenge for many older people’s fingers, especially if arthritis is an issue. And shoe size–or perhaps better stated “comfortable, decent-looking shoes”– is another challenge for older feet of fashion-conscious elders.
R took one look at a catalog of easy-to-put-on clothing for older people about 5 years ago, and said it “depressed” her. I’ve written about the fact that for years R has carefully selected and purchased clothes through regular catalogues (her favorites have been posted often around holiday time) and she always looks well put-together.
Never-the-less, before I realized how good R was at catalog shopping, I’d thought about introducing the idea of using Velcro in place of buttons on some of her clothing as follows: (this was before the Velcro Button Conversion Kit and the “coins,” which I’ve not tried.)
1. –cut off button
2.–attach button to a piece of material whose color matches the clothing (or to the wrong side of velcro if the color is right). Piece should be larger than button hole.
3. –button button through its original button hole
4. –then sew that piece of matching material (or velcro) to the underside of the garment to keep button (looking buttoned) in place.
Now for the Velcro–if matching material was used initially
1.  Sew one piece where the original button was.
2.  Sew the other (corresponding) piece where the material w/ button is.
3. Repeat for each button–probably 5 total for sweaters or jackets
Check out Velcro’s iron-on Fabric Fusion Tape. Haven’t tried it, but sounds good.
Let’s not forget men’s shirts, jackets–and I came across a picture of a Velcro fly on a pair of men’s slacks.
It’s important to stitch well, using strong or doubled thread, remembering there will be pressure from pulling the Velcro apart when putting on and taking off. A dressmaker or tailor could easily do this and if it brings new life to favorite clothes that haven’t been worn because of aging fingers, it would no doubt be worth the cost.
For old fashionistas, it can make purchasing new clothing with difficult fasteners an option. (Or keep them and us on the lookout for smart clothing with zippers.) LOOK GOOD, FEEL BETTER helps everyone.
 Next Saturday’s post: Aging feet, shoes, and Velcro
Related:–one of Sr. Advisor R’s more pricey, preferred catalogues– (for above zippered poncho, jacket and more).


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



5 Tips No One Tells You About Aging

This Huffington Post article “5 Tips…” is cleverly written; clearly aimed at women  younger than most of our parents. Yet, cleverness aside, some aspects of these tips about physical changes and looking good apply to those much older, if my senior advisors are any indication.

My older-women take on 4 of the tips from the HP + one from Sr. Advisor R (99) concern:

  1. Eyebrows and eyelashes
  2. Temporary hair coloring (thinning hair not mentioned)
  3. Changing feet
  4. Reality-based shopping
  5. + Finger Nails

Eyes and hair can make people look attractive–or not. Can’t this be a vicious cycle affecting how others interact with them–especially semi-strangers (store employees, receptionists, even doctors and dentists initially)? I’ve watched semi-strangers’ reaction to Sr. Advisor R over the years. They are impressed and heartened, sometimes comparing her to their parents, sometimes wondering how she does it; always respectful (never dismissive).

As noted in prior posts, R is always in order–hair and eye make-up perfect–before she’d step one foot outside the house. It’s pride.

If people never had pride in their appearance when young, they no doubt won’t have it in old age. On the other hand, when once-good-looking parents start to become careless about their looks, they’re probably beginning to lose interest. Is “look good, feel better” tied to emotional health and probably to physical well-being down the line? If so, isn’t  it in everyone’s best interest to support looking good?

Now 3 weeks away from her 100th birthday, her eyelashes and eyebrows have indeed lessened. Even at her age she uses a “good eyeliner” (L’Oreal) and Lancome mascara and adds color to her eyebrows when going out.  Yet she says “recently they’ve (eyelashes) suddenly grown a little; but I’d look like little Orphan Annie if I didn’t use eye make-up.” And her mirror–“a must have”– enables her do her eye makeup as well as see the back of her head to make sure her hair looks good front and back.

It takes a lot of patience for R’s thinning hair to be just the way she wants it, and it has been a challenge for several decades. Her red hair has faded over the years–goes well with her complexion. R has never colored her hair nor used the temporary hair color that prevents people’s roots from looking unkempt (Huffington post link above has details.) She’s a fan of Toppik for covering the balding spots.

Easy Spirit® "Cloverly" Velcro Hiking SandalR is many inches shorter than she was as a girl (wonder if our generation’s taking calcium will make this less of a problem) and feet do change, do get wider. R finds Easy Spirit sandals with velcro solve the problem for her in warm months, and says in earlier days (before velcro in adult shoes) she sometimes needed to buy 2 pairs of shoes a size apart to take care of the problem of one foot being wider than the other.

On a personal note, until a bit over a year ago I was able to wear any shoes in my size and sometimes needed to break them in before they felt good…but good they always felt, eventually (just as the article points out). I no longer do that. HP got that tip right.

CVS Natural Vitamin E Oil 30000 IULastly, Sr. Advisor supplies the finger nail tip. Saying finger nails break more easily, become less strong, crack vertically, and get ridges as people age, she recently started putting Vitamin E oil (bottle about $7.95 at CVS)  on her nails and finds it has helped strengthen them.

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If we’re immersed in health issues with aging parents, the above tips could seem frivolous. Nevertheless, these tips give us a “heads up” for what’s ahead and offer some practical help so older and old women continue to age well.

Related: Older Women’s Thinning Hair: Styles and Instructive Links

New: “Of Current Interest”(right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities about cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

Older Women’s Thinning Hair, Instructive Links, and Styles for Women 60+

Ever feel like you’re wearing 2 hats? One gaining information for yourself and one gaining information to help parents age well? From boomers to aging parents (mothers) the information in these first 3 links will be useful. Professionals explain probably all there is for a layperson to know about hair. the facts about female pattern baldness from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Here is a thorough explanation of hair loss with options for improving the situation, thanks to Michigan dermatologist Marcy Street. Read about Latisse–very interesting, for those who aren’t familiar with it.

Most products claiming to restore hair–don’t. And one that seems to at least stop the loss, must be applied every day (period) or there’s a reversal. Latisse, on the other hand, may be the one that will earn the manufacturer zillions of dollars by restoring hair on balding heads like it does on eyelashes. I’ve seen the results on 2 women’s eyelashes–were they ever thick! One was a nurse’s eyelashes in a major hospital’s outstanding wound care center where we took Sr. Advisor, R for her infected wound last November. Couldn’t help noticing the eyelashes; had to mention it. Nurse was delighted and said it was Latisse. Then a friend invited us to informal dinner at her home in Arizona. Hadn’t seen her–or her eyelashes–in a year. She was only too happy to talk about Latisse.

Note: Researchers testing eye drops for treating glaucoma, in the 1990s, noticed that patients were growing longer, thicker lashes. The company began development of a product that contained the same active ingredient but could be used for cosmetic purposes; Latisse became available in 2009. “examines some of the major factors affecting the health and appearance of your hair and what to do about them, including hands-on tips from the pros,” according to the article. I can’t improve on that summary. It’s worth reading–to be certain you’re well-informed.
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The links below are for fun, really. For some, seeing how good these 60+-year-old women look will be heartening. Below: a few slide shows with brief comments.

Here we see film industry women with various–including thinning– hair types and styles. Sally Field, Helen Mirren, Glenn Close and 2 others

Andrea Mitchell (at 65) begins this slide show of 6 blondes, followed by Diane Sawyer (at 66), Dona Mills (71),  Joanna Lumley (at 66), Judith Light (at 64) and Martha Stewart (at 71) .

They’re saying bangs hide wrinkles. Here actress Frances Fisher (now 61–don’t know anyone’s age in these photos) leads off this group of 5, followed by Patricia Richardson (now 62), Paula Deen the only nonactress, but can she cook! (now 66), Susan Blakely (now 64) and Susan Sarondon (now 66)

In addition, as time permits, link to the slide shows for short, medium and long hair on women over 60.

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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Short Hair Cuts for Women Over 60

Look good, feel better…

…has been one of the consistent themes to help parents age well. Isn’t it uplifting to look in the mirror and like what we see? We all know that a bad hair day–or just plain bad Bad Hair Dayhair–makes no one look good or feel very good, so naturally this article grabbed my attention.

It comes from More magazine Take a look, for those over 60 as well as for aging mothers and grandmothers. There are also styles for thinning and fine hair. I’m not a fan of the pixie cut, however, a stylist skilled doing layered hair could be an answer.

….. a few more shortish cuts: with Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda again (but slight change to style) and 6 others.

Also, for variety, check out these “50 Hot Hairstyles Over 50;” and we know a few are 60+.

And if you missed this August 9, 2012 post, there’s a photo of non-celebs (85 and 95) who look amazing for their ages. Are these excellent hairstyles for these elderly women!

I note Ronni Bennett Time Goes By blog began Hair Loss posts on May 19th. No solutions yet, but she’s researching, as am I.

May 21 Time Goes By Ronni Bennet finds a really good hair dresser who knows how to cut, is able to give her a cut and new, shorter style that conceals her scalp. (Post has photos.)

May 23 I went to a really good hair dresser for a consultation; decided to get my hair cut on the spot–before losing courage. Result–a shorter, not short, style. See June 2nd post and tips.

Check out June 11, 2013 post for “topical” solutions (Rogaine, MoniMay, Toppik)

Help Aging Parents: A Round-up of Best Hair Style Options for Older Women

The more attention I pay to older women, the more convinced I am: if the goal is to look good, hair style is as–if not more–important than clothing. (For instance, a woman with a flattering hair style can look good in a night-gown.)

I know my mother–into her late 80’s–was concerned about her hair. And I’m guessing many aging mothers feel the same way and could benefit from a new “do.”  Todays post highlights 3 links, expanding on my more general August 2, 2012  post, Hairstyles for Old, Older Elderly Women.

Click the site below, if you have time for only one link. It’s very well organized: attractive photos grouped by hair style (long, short, gray, silver, fine), probably any/every hair style an older white woman could want. (I say “white” because  initially there were also hairstyles for black women when I put in this link, but they haven’t come up again. That’s frustrating; I’ll keep searching.)  offers short discussion of mature hair care and with photos highlighting hair styles of several stars 50+. This site has “an album”–over 204 images, not as well organized as the lovetoknow site, but very complete.

Finding an attractive hair style for an aging mother should no longer be a challenge. A good hair style makes everyone–regardless of age– look more attractive– another way to help parents age well.

Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.


Holiday Gifts for Aging Mothers–1 2012 update

Also Click Great Gifts tab above

Fashionable, Appropriate Clothing and Accessories:
7 Excellent Sites 

A never-worn St. John knit hangs in my closet.  Normally a very pricey label, it was so inexpensive (a “buy” you can find in NY). I couldn’t resist getting it for my mother years ago–her size, her color, two piece. But she never wore it.  Why?  At age 83, she tactfully told me that she didn’t wear short sleeves because of flabby arms. Who knew?

Something to think about when selecting clothing: older women’s particular wants and needs, as well as challenges.  Can can they button and unbutton easily? What about hooks and eyes? clasps to necklaces? things that zip, button in back etc. etc.  Do they want to downplay/hide certain parts of their body?

Senior advisor R, 99, still uses catalogs…and always looks well-put-together. Check out her favorite catalogs and their URLs. If you want to entertain your mother, while getting an idea of what she likes, check them out together.  (In counseling we call the latter “a hidden agenda.”)

Appleseeds (800-767-6666) The $79.95 washable, red Cascade Ruffle Pointe knit jacket Cascade Ruffle Ponte Jacketcould be a “must-have” for the holidays. (A woman 65+ reviewed it.)Pair it with black pants and a festive top. Pants, shirts, skirts, sweaters, jackets, coats, pant suits; accessories, handbags, shoes, gifts–you name it, Appleseeds has it. They carry Women’s sizes. Click the Santa’s weekly specials. The “Ruffled Front Boiled Wool” jacket, that comes in various colors, could pull an outfit together nicely in colder climates.

Chico’s (888-855-4986), has online shopping, as well as bricks and mortar stores. Attractive clothing, jewelry and accessories suitable not only for us, but for women of all ages. Check out online: the Mesh Marine cardigan $53+ (hand wash), and Traveller’s Collection Bree cardigan $65+Travelers Collection Bree Cardigan(machine washable) that add a contemporary look and can hide “a multitude of sins” (as they used to say) for older figures. Their ever-changing sales have just changed again, so always check them out along with Today’s Deals.

I visited a Chico’s store recently. I’m told older women especially love their jackets (which also include “cardigan sweaters;” cardigan sweaters are in the sweater category as well) and jewelry. Indeed a well-dressed older woman was trying on a jacket at a bricks and mortar store in Arizona.

Coldwater Creek (1-888-678-5576) emerged from bankruptcy with new ownership, as an online business (no bricks and mortar stores for the time being at least), in November 2015. Many were saddened to see the “Going Out of Business” signs last summer and hopefully will have expectations met with this new business model. While offerings are relatively small as the business gets up and running, they continue to carry all sizes (petite to plus), accessories, a clearance ……. , offer customer service by phone. This link explains the difference between the old and the new (,

Don’t want this to be too long; list will be continued next post.
Happy Shopping!