Help Aging Parents: I Just Called to Say I Love You

The flight back to NY will soon take off. Cell phones are active. One last conversation before we’re told to turn off all electronic devices–“anything with an on-off button,” says the flight attendant.  “I love you” seems a popular ending to the conversations. I’m thinking younger people use that expression a lot….sometimes so often that it seems to me its meaning is diluted, and I wonder how much it really means.

In the olden days it meant the world. Think Stevie Wonder and the popularity of the song whose title heads this post….. it continues: “and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.” I’m sitting on the plane for over 4 hours. My thoughts turn to aging parents, grandparents and elderly friends and I wonder how often they hear those–to their generation– tender words, especially when they live alone.

And then I think about care facilities and the “honeys” and the “sweeties” which clearly aren’t delivered in the empowering affectionate terms younger people experience. (If you’ve been reading my blog you know I find those terms diminishing, not endearing, to older people.)

So perhaps we should phone some elderly friends when we have unaccounted-for time and let them know how much we value them. We all know it’s important for older people to stay connected and I think it’s safe to say the elderly don’t receive that many compliments–or–what we used to call– “strokes.” And doesn’t a phone call show we really care? And doesn’t that make people feel good?  I know lonesome older people often talk and talk–and it’s much longer than we’d like; but that just proves how important the phone call is.

(….I’m recalling my father’s mother–an aging, small-of-stature, grandma-looking woman who would always tell us about any compliment she received.  I was a little girl then and it seemed strange that she would tell us about a compliment. In retrospect, it was obviously important to her–may have been one of the best things–or the best thing–that happened for her that week…)

My last thought is about the unconditional love from pets. R has said many times she’d love to have a pet again but at 98 she “doesn’t want to take on more responsibilities.” I get home very late tonight. She’ll be my first call in the morning.


Moving From Home Leads to a Holiday Gift Idea

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Our moving day is fast approaching. There’s always so much more to do than one anticipates. Thinking about aging parents and elderly people going through this process makes me wonder how they do it.

Yes, adult children help.  And when aging parents are mentally–but not physically–able and must get help, I’ve become sensitive to the fact that many mourn the loss of meaningful things accidentally discarded by “helpers.”

For example, one person I know often refers to the fact that her “Birthday Book” got lost in her move. She blames her helpful children.  She continually apologizes for forgetting to remember her friends’ and relatives’ birthdays. I know she’s sincere.

I also know that doing the work required to put together a new book would be overwhelming at her age.  I’m thinking when we’re once again settled, I’ll sit down with her and we’ll work together and attempt to create a replacement Birthday Book. And that will be my holiday gift– something I know she’ll truly appreciate.

Hmmmm. Perhaps a generic holiday gift: replacing something that aging parents have loved using and/or treasured but have lost, misplaced, or used so often it needs repairing, cleaning, or replacing.  You get the idea.

Of course since we’re controlling and doing all of our moving, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves for regrets about things lost or discarded during downsizing. Then, of course, there are treasures we make a special point of moving safely…..

"You can say any fool thing to a dog, and...…….No matter what.