Far Away on Father’s Day: Tips to Lessen the Trials of Travel for Old and Not-so-Old

Traveling many miles comfortably is hard work, especially for aging parents. That said, adult children coming to visit makes most Dads happy and proud. Is there a better Father’s Day Gift?

DSCN0789Gone are the days of short walks to the boarding gate, and a feeling of relaxation and security when most adults stepped onto an airplane. It  was the norm in the 20th century.

As Father’s day approaches I’m thinking how much my Dad loved when I returned to my childhood home where he and Mom still lived. That was pre-9/11. I’m also thinking about Sr. Advisor R’s flying “alone” back to NY three years ago for our anniversary–at age 98–and about the enormous effort it must have been.

First–Re: Air Travel

Equipped with TSA PreCheck* to ease TSA’s screening, and my fit-into-the-overhead case and under-seat-size soft-sided case, I embarked on an 8-day trip to the NW with my husband and returned to NYC last night.

Shortly before leaving NYC a friend, hearing how happy I was to have TSA precheck and how unhappy I was about needing to navigate my carry-on through seemingly miles of airport corridors, suggested a wheelchair. “I use them sometimes, when I’ve got a lot of stuff and don’t want to wear myself out before even getting on the plane,” she (not yet a “senior”) said. If Dad wouldn’t consider using a wheel chair until he was in his 90’s. why would I at a much younger age?

Is it pride—or stupidity? I wondered to myself. IMG_4167 With so many elderly parents living far from theirIMG_4169 adult children, Father’s Day, as well as other holidays and milestone events, necessitates travel if families want to be together.

Not knowing the answer to the specific question above, and because this

will be too long, this coming Saturday’s post offers strategies to ease the situation: current TSA information to make air travel more user-friendly and suggestions to help aging parents and elders we care about. In short, order wheel chairs ahead of time and go online to sign up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Details to follow.

*November 2015. 5 months and many cross-country flight later I–and friends–have found in some airports that the TSA PreCheck lines are as long as the regular lines and some terminals offering PreCheck still require the same inconvenient screening of non-PreCheck. That said, PreCheck is usually preferable, but don’t get stuck in a long PreCheck line if you can see a shorter one is available and you don’t mind the inconvenience of taking out your laptops, liquids, removing shoes etc.

Aging Parents: Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers Part 2 2015 Update

Cake by Esperanza

Round-up of 50 Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers
continued

A tie!? When men “dressed” to go out ties were a most popular Father’s Day gift. While still a popular gift, today’s more casual dress code makes me wonder about the future of ties…they aren’t listed under “Accessories/Clothing” in part 1.
However, this Father’s Day Cake, complete with tie, could be a creative answer for those who bake and like using marzipan. Can anything top making this cake as a loving tribute to a great Dad or Grandad? For those who don’t bake, my round-up continues…..

Hearing: Hearing loss is a problem for older people and for those who communicate with them.

  • Assistive listening systems: products for TV watchers who need very high volume to hear well (while others don’t). Click the preceding link then scroll down to “Assistive Listening Systems” if you wish to educate yourself.
  • Amplified Telephones=better conversation for all. This link provides a quick education as does the “Amplified Telephones” section of this U. of Calif at San Francisco Medical Center site.
  • A good audiologist’s contact information. Do the research to up the odds that the hearing loss will be diagnosed and corrected. Put the information in a gift box with the appropriate note and offer transportation to and from the appointment if you wish.
  • This  2011 NY Times article, mentions/praises Clarity phones, you might want to  click the pictures (amplified phones, mobile phones) for more info.
  • Googling “telephones for hearing loss” provides additional phone options.

Pampering

  • Starbucks’s VIA ready brew individual instant coffee packets–regular or decaf in 3, 12. or 50 packs for coffee lovers. My Dad would find them pricey–Probably wouldn’t buy them for himself. (Costco used to carry them.)
  • Keurig Coffee Maker and coffee pods–a year-round, expensive–a gift my dad would never have bought for himself–a family-get-together-to-give gift perhaps. Coffee lovers, young and old love it and the coffee pods that can be delivered monthly.
  • A mug (perhaps with a family photo?) to microwave the coffee in.
  • Good bottle of wine
  • Wine refrigerator 
  • His favorite microbrew beer (a case?)
  • Massage
  • Professional shave
  • Manicure/Pedicure
  • An easy-care plant–decorative and life-affirming
  • What about that Father’s Day cake?

Visionwe know vision changes with age; these gifts can enhance

  • Large print books (for those who still like the feel of a book)
  • An electronic book. Because the font can be enlarged–I hear it’s a Godsend. The background color can also make a difference so check this out with someone knowledgeable.
  • A Verilux lamp can be especially helpful for those with vision issues. Two people I know (one with advanced macular degeneration) have the “Original Natural Spectrum” floor model. They say the light bulb adds clarity and the gooseneck directs the light where it does the most good for reading or doing desk work.
  • The mini-maglite, small flashlights that give great light in dark places.                             
  • Pocket magnifying glasses great for reading small print (think menus and the check) in dark restaurants. Pocket 3X strength magnifying-glass takes up little space, is light weight, not pricey (around $10 at Barnes & Noble), remains lit without having to keep a finger on any button.  Amazon”s Lightwedge magnifier gets same rating, looks similar.Also check out the 5X strength ($9.99) from another mfg. Note: This guide for buying magnifying glasses for those with low vision can be helpful.
  • White dishes make it easier for macular-vision affected people to distinguish their food on a plate, for example. Read: Contrast makes the difference
Here’s to successful shopping!
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: Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers–Part 1

Father’s Day sleeveless sweater vest cake made by Esperanza

Round-up of 46 Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers
Click for 2015 round-up of 50 gifts

More gifts ideas for aging fathers and grandfathers–than I think a man could possibly want–have filled my posts over the last three years. I’ve reread them, remembering the time and outside-the-box thinking that went into compiling the list. 8 categories, arranged alphabetically: “Accessories and Clothing” to “Vision.”

Not needing to reinvent the wheel, I’ve updated the list and added a bit. It’s long now. I’ll post in 2 parts so it’s not overwhelming. Hoping that your shopping is made easier and that the aging men in your life will have smiles on their faces when they open their gifts.

Accessories/Clothing:

–Cane (measured correctly) or walking stick
–Hat (to shade a bald/potentially balding head)
–Sport shirt. (Dad liked long sleeve ones to protect his arms from skin cancer–a definite concern as he aged.)
–Sleeveless cardigan sweater vest (not over the head). Easier to get off and on if buttons aren’t a problem. Older people are often cold. Dad wore one at home. It also looked good under a jacket when he went out. (This style is hard to find…know someone who knits?)
–An easy-to-use umbrella collapsible–opens and closes with the push of a button. (Totes makes a good one.)

Computers–especially designed for seniors: Check the 6 options’ details in previous post https://helpparentsagewell.com/2011/05/28/computers-especially-for-seniors/ .

A-Plus Senior Computer
Big Screen Live
Eldy
GO computer
iPad (See Marti Weston’s  iPad for Dad posts not included in 2011 link above)
WOW computer
Pzee computer

For the even less-technology-talented, check out
Paw Paw and the
Presto Printing Mailbox.

Entertainment:

–Subscription to a Favorite Magazine
–Netflix
–Subscription to newspaper–financial, current local or hometown they grew up in
–2 Tickets to sporting events etc.–accompany Dad or make it easy for Dad to take a friend.
–A short outing with Dad (fishing trip, golf game, movie, zoo, his old neighborhood if it’s near–you might learn additional family history).
–Add a premium TV channel

Health/Hygiene:

–Membership to the YMCA or a gym
–Membership to Silver Sneakers
Panosonic’s Nose and Facial Hair Trimmer was older men’s most popular 2012 purchase according to the NYC Hammacher Schlemmer store or catalogue–($19.95)
–A good blood pressure gauge can be a gift that helps parents age well and may be recommended by doctors. Recently the easy-to-use OMRON intellisense Bp652 Series wrist blood pressure gauge (like the one below) was used on a patient at a doctor’s office in one of NYC’s prestigious teaching hospitals. Check with your dad, your dad’s, or granddad’s doctor
before purchasing.

Product Details

–A great pair of shoes for walking
–Pedometer. Hammacher Schlemmer’s full-screen pedometer $34.95 (2 5/8 Hx 1 1/2 Wx 1/2 D). Steps walked, distance travelled, calories burned, time elapsed, average pace–all seen at once, on one screen operated by one button.
–Toe Nail Clippers: for elders with still-steady hands who don’t have diabetes.
–This Guardian medication reminder was featured in a respected hospital’s magazine, sent to seniors in surrounding communities. Good idea for forgetful elders?

4 more categories to go–next post.

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.

6 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts: Exciting, Entertaining, Easily Obtainable–2013

Need a last-minute gift for an older person without the enduring the hectic last-minute crowds?  Here’s my short list.  It highlights exciting, pleasurable and practical gifts that can help parents and grandparents age well.

  • Lottery tickets, whether they are the scratch-off or wait-for-selection-of-the-winning-numbers-kind, add excitement to life.
  • Christmas LightsA drive with you to see the holiday decorations. Especially at night, when many older people are insecure about going out, the light displays are a great treat.
  • Open Table gift card simple, free sign up. You select restaurant (from ***** on down, in 33 cities), select card design, and amount of $ you wish to spend. More info: (888) 503-7558 or gifts@opentable.com Gift card emailed to you to print out that same day. Many older people prefer their largest meal at lunch for various reasons; whatever meal, they can invite friends if you provide enough $.
  • Netflix conveniently provides seniors, who don’t go out to the movies, many hours of entertainment.
  • Filling the car with gas for a senior on fixed income, or helping with other such essentials is a welcome gift.  While shopping and taking out my led pocket magnifying glass to help the saleswoman read the care label on a coat, an 81-year-old lady, buying a jacket for her granddaughter, joined the conversation. When I asked her what she’d like for Christmas, she quickly replied “my health,” then added “and someone filling up my gas tank….I just bought gas and it’s so expensive.”
  • An IOU to take non-driving seniors shopping/to the doctor etc. and back.

While Netflix comes with a gift card, and lottery tickets speak for themselves, making a card for the last two gifts only requires a recipe/index card or a piece of paper onto which a picture of a car (gas-tank side showing?) is pasted.

HAPPY GIFT GIVING

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 GUARANTEED TO PLEASE AGING PARENTS: THINKING AHEAD

Gifts We Can Be Certain Elders Want

IMG_2319MEMORY TEST: Have your aging parents or grandparents–or great-uncles or aunts– ever mentioned off-handedly or in conjunction with other thoughts, something they need, want or would love to have? And you file it in your memory as a gift idea for later on?

I’ve flunked that. Perhaps I’m not alone. Sunday I was reading posts in my archives and unearthed something I’d forgotten. Sr. Advisor, R, mentioned the retrofitted shower’s hand spray device was big and heavy for her 99-year-old hands according to that post. I had purchased a smallish, relatively light weight one when we remodeled our apartment’s bathroom. Its spray could be adjusted to pretty powerful if necessary. I knew it would be perfect–a needed gift.

To back up: R (who has aged in place in her home of 60+ years) had her shower retrofitted before her return from rehab following her broken hip surgery. She didn’t mention the hand spray until last March when I asked if I could write about her shower redo. That’s when I learned about the hand shower spray. How could I forget between March and November?!

Kohler K-8487Now that I’ve remembered, I will go to the Kohler website and show her the hand spray photo on my iPhone. (She is much less flexible, at age 100, with anything involving change; we try to be sensitive to that). Who knows, in the last 7+ months she may have become accustomed to that big, heavy hand spray! Since we have no tools and aren’t handy, a plumber would need to be part of the hand-spray gift. Considering the total cost, we want to avoid a mistake.

We’ll be with her at Thanksgiving and I know I’ll find a reason to casually bring up the subject. Since my iPhone is never far from me, showing her the photo will be simple. If she still has interest, a gift guaranteed to please will be coming her way at holiday time.

We know our parents pretty well.  Nevertheless, aging does bring changes. I think we all want to give gifts that add to older people’s lives, not give them clutter or something that causes problems. That’s why–from now on–when, especially, an older family member mentions something that is broken, not working, not right, has been lost etc. etc., I’m going to keep a list and pull it out well in advance of a gift-giving occasion. As we try to help parents age well, doesn’t that make sense?

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.

Help Aging Parents: Getting a Head Start on Valentine’s Day–1

It’s always a joy to receive a Valentine, whether young or old…but especially for the old. Having ideas for Valentines–or Valentine gifts– ahead of time clearly reduces the pressure. Of course, executing the idea eliminates the pressure completely–and can be lots of fun. I’m checking with friends for ideas. Here’s idea #1 with thanks to far-away-living daughter, Monique, who’s doing this for her mother in France.

IMG_0937After purchasing a heart-shaped box at a Dollar Store, she wrote the following note and placed it in the box.

“I’ve taken all the love out of my heart and placed it in this box. Any time you need a little, open the box and let some out.”

Then Monique added some chocolates to the box.

Wouldn’t this bring joy to any aging parent–or grandparent! And adding joy to their lives, certainly helps them age well.

*                                               *                                         *

Thoughts and information:

  • I think the note alone is a true gift. Yet those”little chocolates” are nice, especially for chocolate lovers. They might even be Hershey Kisses in the US. (Monique says they’re not available in France.)
  • There’s no dollar store near, so I haven’t checked the heart-box supply. Michael’s has the small heart-shaped boxes (pictured), large enough to hold the note and a few pieces of candy

 

2012 Holiday Gifts for Aging Fathers and Grandfathers–3

Why do gifts for older men seem to take more thought and ingenuity than gifts for women? Or is this a question basically asked by women–who, we might assume, purchase more gifts than men? Although tagged as aging mens’ gift ideas, this list is clearly appropriate for aging women.

5. Hearing:  Older people’s hearing loss is a problem for them and for us, so think about–

  • Assistive listening systems: for TV watchers who need very high volume (http://www.hsdcstore.com/FAQs/DigitalTV.htm) while others in the room don’t.  To educate yourself, scroll down on the link to “Assistive Listening Devices.”
  • Amplified Telephones=better conversations for all.  http://telephonesforhearingimpaired.com/  provides a quick education as does the  “Amplified Telephones” section of this U. of Calif at San Francisco Medical Center site:  http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/hearing enhancement_devices/ 
  • An appointment with an audiologist. (Possibly locate the audiologist, make appointment, go with parent to appointment.) To lessen any emotional overlay, this may be most effective with objective reporting of facts (eg. “I don’t know whether you noticed, Dad, but yesterday I told you John just phoned and you answered ‘But I just talked to Joan two minutes ago.’ You’ve been doing a lot of that lately, Do you think an appointment with an audiologist would be a good idea?”  I admit that’s not the kind of gift every parent wants, but something appealing can always be added from other categories.

If hearing is an issue check this NY Times link: http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/functions-to-make-phones-easier-for-the-elderly/ which mentions Clarity’s phones, http://shop.clarityproducts.com/.

I pay little attention to company’s emails sent to my blog’s gmail, but because of the NY Times article, this interested me. Click the amplified phones picture for Clarity’s offerings.  Some phones may meet an aging parent’s needs. Also Googling “telephones for hearing loss” provides additional phone options.

6. Pampering

  • Starbucks VIA ready brew individual instant coffee packets–regular or decaf in 3 or 12 packs for coffee lovers. Dad probably wouldn’t buy it for himself. Easy, microwaveable, no mess.. Pricey, however, COSTO carried it and may still.

  • A massage or a professional shave
  • Nice pajamas
  • Comfortable bathrobe

Vision: We know aging produces vision changes in many.

  • Large print books (for dads who still like the feel of a book); large print newspaper, large print crossword puzzle book.
  • The Kindle (which I hear many like best) or other electronic book, where the font can be enlarged–a Godsend I hear for people with vision issues.
  • The pocket-lighted-slide magnifying glass (Black & Silver Pocket LED) from Great Point Light offers magnification and light with a simple pull. Takes up little space, is light weight, not pricy ($9.95), remains lit without having to keep a finger on any button, great for reading (menus/bills) in dark restaurant. It was carried at the Container Store, Staples, and Office Max last year. Haven’t physically checked this year. This website offers more details, including how-to information for selecting a magnifier.

We’re into Chanukah, with two weeks left until Christmas. Here’s hoping that the last 4 posts have helped with your holiday shopping.