Aging Parents’ Gift: Easy, Thoughtful, Expensive—or Not.

Le Bernardin - New York, NY, United States. Delicious scallops in brown butter dashi. A must!

A Thoughtful Gift Than Can be Used Up: A Winning Combination for Elders and Us

It’s a custom that on birthdays my husband and I get to choose what we want to do. It’s always a wonderful day. This month I decided a meal at a fine restaurant was exactly what I wanted..

Expanding on this idea, we know–as people get older–they want to get rid of things, not accumulate them. So something that gets used up (like food) is preferable unless older people have specific needs.

As we were half-way through our meal, I overheard the mâitre d’ saying to the elderly couple being seated nearby something like, “Your children have arranged for your meal with us to be a gift from them.”

(My mind flashed back to the time we planned something like this for my parents who went up to Victoria, British Columbia for one of their birthdays. My brother found out where they planned to have dinner and I, credit card in hand, phoned the restaurant and asked that the meal be charged to me. It was a special occasion and–although far away–we wanted to have a part in it.)

Seeing the old man’s face light up and his wife’s big smile when the mâitre d’ announced the meal would be a gift from their children, made me want to take a picture. It would have been in bad taste, of course, so writing about it on my blog is the next best thing.

Thoughtful gestures. Gifts that can be used up. Expensive or not. A winning combination as we do our best to help parents age well.

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

Aging Parents: Make Elderly Happy~Thanks to St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day. Another opportunity to make elderly people happy: happiness created by anticipation if we’ve planned ahead to do something with them; unexpected happiness from an unexpected gift or communication. And you don’t have to be Irish to participate.

A NYC ad campaign, ubiquitous in the NYC subways throughout the ’60’s and 70’s, proclaimed: “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish Rye.” Likewise in NYC, we don’t have to be Irish to love corned beef and cabbage, catch the spirit, and participate in St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Every important politician, it seems, is Irish that day, marching–with high visibility– in the popular  St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

4 Ideas to Lift Spirits and Make Elders Happy:

Oxalis regnellii Shamrock Plant

Oxalis regenlli /Shamrock Plant~Click to enlarge

1.  A clover plant giftoxalis regenlli is a three-leaf clover–a perfect St. Patrick’s Day gift for elders. It needs little care, likes light but doesn’t require much sun and if it’s getting dry, we’re warned–the clover begins to droop. Its leaves open each morning, close each night, and it flowers throughout the year. Hard to kill, fun to watch, and easy to love.

The one above is a bad example, with only one flower. (Result of going on vacation.) The only work is cutting off the dead flowers. Doesn’t cause any allergies unless you eat it!

Usually Trader Joe’s sells inexpensive oxalis plants for St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps due to the cold NY weather, there were none yesterday when I shopped there. Don’t know the situation in warmer climates.That said, there’s still time to purchase one in florist shops or at nurseries and corms/bulbs are sold on-line (Click oxalis link above.)

2. A gift of an Irish beverage: Guinness, a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream, a bottle of whisky, or tea. According to IrishCentral.com, “Ireland is famous for Guinness, obsessive tea drinkers and some of the best whiskey on the planet.”

3. A gift of foodIrish Soda Bread:
BX0216H_Irish-Soda-Bread_s4x3.jpg.rend.snigallerythumb.jpeg –a particularly good gift for aging parents, grandparents and elders we care about. I loved it when my counselees’ would bring some, made by their mothers, to my office.  Some bakeries are selling soda bread now.  (Link gives video and recipe for those who have time and like to bake).FN_Corned-Beef-Cabbage_s4x3.jpg.rend.snigallerythumb.jpeg

        –Corned beef and cabbage or shepherd’s pie: –to eat at home (ours or theirs). Otherwise plan to cook a favorite food and call with a dinner invitation; or take elders out to dinner so they can eat whatever they wish. In any case, add an Irish beverage–Guinness? whiskey? Bailey’s Irish Creme? Irish coffee? tea?

4. Unexpected communications: elders prefer a phone call or a snail-mail card to email.

We didn’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Rye Bread. Likewise, we needn’t be Irish to love the St. Patrick’s Day spirit. Can we take advantage and use this opportunity to lift the spirits of our parents and grandparents?

         

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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.

Special Sweets are Valentine’s Treats for Seniors and Elders–2016 update

 Unique Scrumptious Valentine Treats: Middle Eastern, French, American
Mouthwatering Middle Eastern Pastries from Michigan

Mouth-watering Middle Eastern Pastries from Michigan

 Many older people, seniors and aging parents, appreciate smaller portions and small tasty bites–shunning the big meals and all-you-can-eat excesses of their younger years. Metabolisms change, dietary issues develop but let’s face it, a sweet treat now and then lifts spirits. If not on Valentine’s Day—-when?
1.  Shatila’s Middle Eastern Pastries. A thoughtful guest brought a tray of the smallest baklava all the way from Michigan to last year’s Super Bowl party in Arizona. The little beauties–the smallest baklava I’ve ever seen–walnut, pistachio and–I believe–almond were heavenly–a bite or two. Perfect. Assuming that eating nuts and honey isn’t a problem, I can’t think of an edible Valentine gift aging parents and elders we care about would enjoy more.
2. Laduree, the Rolls Royce of French macaroons, opened a small shop on Madison Ave. in NY 3+ years ago. Lines were around the block and the small space continues to be crowded every time I’ve gone by. They now have a branch in lower Manhattan (Soho).

     While pricey their fillings are incomparable. Phone #s and addresses in above link. I don’t know whether they ship, but if you’re in NY or Paris it’s worth a special stop.

3. Bissinger’s (St. Louis, Mo.) see below–and Harbor Sweets (Salem, Mass.) make delicious chocolates. Sr. Advisor R loves the Sweet Sloops (Valentine-shaped box–see it in link.)
 Valentine Classic CollectionValentine Petit Fours

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. Continue reading

Aging Parents: Easter and Passover Treats–a Very Short Outing

Happy EasterHolidays provide endless opportunities to help parents age well. Taking elders out for a change of scenery is one–especially for those who are basically housebound, mobility challenged, or don’t venture forth except for essentials like doctors’ appointments. It’s uplifting, muscles are exercised, and it can be exciting–like those field trips we went on in grade school.

First, simply being with others–namely us–is special, even for grumpy and depressed elders who don’t readily admit it. Second, outings needn’t be a big deal. (The biggest deal may be helping elders get in and out of the car.) But the outing is a big deal for them.

Ahead of time, while on errands, be on the lookout for colorful/fun displays. Check out  Passoverdisplays at markets, florists, and specialty stores. While upscale stores aren’t necessary destinations, these stores no doubt put more money into displays. Take note of the ones that deserve a return visit.

Bakeries offer endless possibilities for Passover and Easter. Treats for the eyes and the taste buds. What’s more beautiful or delicious than colorful macaroons? No doubt French bakeries everywhere have tried to replicate LaDuree’s beauties.

IMG_2976And who doesn’t love tasty little gifts! At 100, Sr. Advisor R prefers small. Several small cupcakes are perfect for her.

Cupcakes on a stick are different andCupcakes on Sticks certainly pretty. Men–at least those I know–prefer the old fashion size. Bigger is better. Note the two sizes above. Of course all cupcakes are not pastel. And some have additional decorations–bunnies etc.

IMG_2967

While simply looking into the bakery cases delights the eye, what’s better than eating some of these sweets? And when shopping carts are available for less-confident walking older people, we hit a home run in our efforts to help parents age well: stability when walking; feeling normal (others use shopping carts); confidence to explore; exercise…and the sweets.

IMG_2973

Related: Aging Parents: Ideas/Thoughts for Passover and Easter

Photos: AJ’s, CVS, Safeway
NYC 2013 Ralph Lauren window
Click to enlarge

 

Easter Window

 

 

Click to Enlarge

Edible/Drinkable Valentine’s Day Gifts

I put my senior advisors to work for this post and we’ve come up with ideas for bringing pleasure to aging parents on Valentine’s Day. Today we feature Edibles and Drinkables. Makeables (things you make), and Nursing Home ideas follow.

EDIBLE/DRINKABLE GIFTS

Older people–aging parents and grandparents–welcome something special to please their taste buds, especially when they no longer drive, have less money for luxuries or just enjoy indulging. That’s why serious indulgences (things they probably wouldn’t buy for themselves) plus a few healthy indulgences make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts.

IDEAS FROM THE BAKERY

La Duree’s macaroons are the gold standard for macaroons, which have become popular in the US. Although very expensive, people in NY line up to buy them from Laduree’s small shop. Their varieties of fillings are delicious, amazingly capturing the essence of the chosen flavor, but are not appropriate for people who shouldn’t have sugar. These macaroons aren’t shipped in the US as far as I know. However Fauchon, a top French food retailer with a US presence, offers macaroons, and takes orders on-line. In addition, Bissinger’s, a “handcrafted chocolatier” in St. Louis, USA since 1853, makes French macaroons and offers on-line ordering. That said, you can find ordinary macaroons at local bakeries and French macaroons at French bakeries.

Check out Laduree and Bissinger’s websites.  Near the top left of Bissinger’s site, click “Valentine’s Day VIEW ALL,  for macaroons, cookies and candy.

Who doesn’t like home-made cookies! If you bake, so much the better. If not, buy bakery cookies or check out Trader Joe’s cookies if a store is near. Breakfast pastries and coffee cakes are additional suggestions–freshly baked or frozen.

Individual pies, small cakes, cupcakes, decorated for Valentine’s Day, are always a hit. And we know the value of eye appeal.

CANDY

We know our parents’ favorites. Sr. Advisor R says, “I’m always glad when someone sends–or brings–me candy. I wouldn’t buy it for myself.”

JAMS and JELLY

Sr. Advisors think jams and jellies in little jars are welcome gifts for those living alone. There’s variety and they won’t get old as quickly. Makes sense, doesn’t it.

HEALTHY INDULGENCES

Fruit baskets which–if we make them–are easily (and less expensively) put together. Think red fruits (strawberries, apples), combined with purple and green grapes and possibly more exotic fruits (kiwis, mango), bananas, tangerines and/or a pineapple plus dried fruits and packages of nuts.  And chances are, elderly parents have plenty of baskets if they have been hospitalized within the last decade and still live in their homes.  Why not borrow one, if you don’t have your own supply.

BEVERAGES

Gifting bottles of flavored waters serves 2 purposes: older people often don’t drink enough (they don’t feel thirst as younger people do); they taste good and are good for hydration. Especially if parents take pills, we know drinking lots of water is important..

R thinks “hot chocolate mix in a can makes a wonderful, comfort food gift, especially for a man.”

A fine bottle of wine or liquor, case or 6-pack of beer (micro-brew?) are other options.

Tea (canisters or boxes)–always popular with tea drinkers. Starbuck’s VIA coffee packets are handy and pricey (Costco has packaged the Columbia coffee single servings in many VIA packets [can’t remember how many] for around $15-$16–no doubt a good buy). Older people may hesitate to buy these “luxuries” for themselves. Both tea bag packets and Via packets can be incorporated into a Valentine–so can gift cards. You’ll see easy instructions on Tuesday’s Valentine’s post, thanks to Martha Stewart.

“Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.