Elderly love–Desire too


What is it that’s so endearing about seeing an old couple holding hands, walking arm in arm, smiling at each other in that certain way?

Is it what each one of us hopes for when we hit the old age mark?

I remember my birthday party some years ago. It was a small dinner party with close family and friends–a mix of ages from my infant niece to three elders–late 80’s-mid-90’s.

We sat around a large table in a hotel’s small private dining room. When the meal was winding down, I asked a question of the older guests. It was something like: “What would you tell us younger people that we should know, but might not be aware of?”

The oldest guest, my friend’s mother in her 90’s (the lady I took to lunch at a bar for her 100th birthday) shared: “I may be old, but Inside I feel like I did when I was an 18-year-old (pause) with all the same desires too.”

It’s so easy to forget that inside an old body can be a young-feeling heart.

With wishes that we can help aging parents and the elders we care about
find that young spot in their hearts this Valentine’s Day.
From Help! Aging Parents

The Best Last-Minute or Any Time Valentine For a Loved-One

We’re doing something different this Valentine’s Day. For decades we’ve sent (now 100-year-old)  Sr. Advisor, R, my husband’s mother, Sweet Sloops from Harbor Sweetssent because we lived far away. She loved the first box and wanted nothing else from then on. Thus, they have been her ongoing Valentine’s Day treat. (Harbor Sweets was a small Marblehead, Mass. family type business when we discovered it.)

This year, however, things needed to change. R is no longer eating chocolate (due to problems falling  asleep) or nuts or carmel (she must be kind to her old teeth–still all her own). I loved this Valentine Valentine heart, cookie boxidea when Monique told me she thought of it for her mother a few years ago; and I introduced it on this blog last year. It will be R’s Valentine this year as it better meets her new needs–A small heart-shaped box containing the following note: 

“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.”

While Monique’s 89-year-old mother lives in France, I think this works for anyone we love, in any circumstance–whether being sent far away or delivered close to home or to a care center or nursing home. With permission, I share once again and personally use it for the first time.

The round tin will hold a few small, decorated cupcakes. While the tin will soon be empty, I have the feeling that the heart with its message will endure.


Note: Small heart boxes and round tin found at Michaels crafts.

A Head Start on Valentine’s Day–2: Caring and Connections Sent Snail Mail

When it comes to helping parents age well, my friend Monique is one of the best daughters I know. While its contents can be priceless, turning Monique’s Valentine idea into a reality takes as little or as much time as we want to spend. It’s handmade (a card or small booklet) with as many pages as we wish. What’s inside, is the key.

A poem, a saying, a quote, a photo, a shared memory, a note fill the page(s). No artistic talent necessary to write or glue these onto a piece of paper.  Example–a photo of a treasured, shared time together with simply, “I Love You.” One piece of paper folded in half makes the card.

Monique sent this kind of “card”–with some meaningful photos, a little saying and some heartfelt words–to her far-away-living mother a few years ago. Her mother said “it made her cry.” No doubt tears of joy for having such a considerate, loving daughter. And possibly tears of sadness because her daughter lives so far away.

When adult children and grandchildren make the effort to send something special, thoughtful and loving on Valentine’s Day, aren’t they filling aging parents and grandparents with feelings of love, thus lifting their spirits?

Connections to others are important in helping people age well. It’s proven; we realize that. We also know many older people enjoy the old-fashioned excitement of seeing there’s something from someone they know– in the mail box. Isn’t sending a Valentine a perfect connection?

Seeing in writing that someone loves and truly cares about us is as meaningful to our elders as it is to us. Perhaps even more so, the older they are–when connections with others are fewer and opportunities for caring, loving words and shared memories are in short supply. The Valentine fills this void–whether we handcraft or buy it–adding anticipation and a bit of excitement when found sitting in the mail box.

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Getting A Head Start of Valentine’s Day–1  (with Monique’s unique Valentine)

Valentine Poems from the internet (scroll down for “mother” etc.)

Hearts on the card photo above come from an inexpensive hanging decoration sold at Michaels  Crafts, cut to desired size, then glued onto sturdy paper.

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.

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.

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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


Aging Parents: 6 Valentine’s Gifts for Patients in Nursing Homes

Several years ago a friend gave me an article about nursing home gifts from  http://www.aracontent.com. (no longer on their current site). I wouldn’t have kept it this long if I didn’t think it worthwhile (and still do). I’ve used their gift topics, added gift suggestions, photos and specific plant suggestions.

6 Gift Suggestions:
For updates go to 2013 updates


Oxallis regnalli–Shamrock Plant

  1. Plants–Especially for those who enjoyed gardening, plants give older people something to take care of and focus on outside themselves. As said often, I particularly like oxallis because they flower continually, are forgiving if not well cared for and do well in indirect light.
Red Kalanchoe, green container, ivy

Red Kalanchoe, green container, ivy

Succulents of any variety that don’t have “prickers,”–eg. sedum, kalanchoe–are also easy care, need little water, some are very attractive. They like (but can exist without) good light and flower–if you’re lucky–once a year.

Violets are more fussy but should be no problem for those who gardened in the past. They flower over a rather long period of time and need light (but not direct sunlight)–and light fertilizing to flower again after their initial blooming period.  They don’t want water on their leaves, and should be regularly turned to keep their nice shape.

Begonia varieties are numerous, colorful, most require minimal care, grow well indoors, and will flower in indirect light. (They are usually shade plants outdoors.)

Philodendrons come in all sizes, have attractive foliage, are difficult to kill, can be grown in soil or water, have no flowers, and do fine in low light. They also help purify the air.

2. Favorite music–CD’s or tapes (a collection of favorite TV shows and/or movies) would be a treat. So would a CD player. Don’t we all love watching (or listening to) our favorite movies and/or music again and again!

3.  Salon certificates: Most nursing facilities have in-house salons for hair and nails, but they require an additional charge. What about giving gift certificates for the salon? Look good, feel better!

4.  Room decorations: Framed pictures of grandchildren or the family or perhaps a comforter in their favorite color, or grandchildren’s drawings make an institutional setting feel more uplifting.

5.  Photo albums, home movies: Sharing family stories with others is a popular pastime. Photo albums, videos and movies add to the interest and fun. The technology to play them is available on most floors.

6.  Magazine subscriptions: The recreation director at an Elder-Care center in New Hampshire says “travel magazines are extremely popular around here.” Our elders are  in the best position to know whether travel, People, Fly Fishing, or National Geographic is the best fit for then.

If uncertain about gifts, phone the activities or social services department at the nursing home. Their staff should know.

Of course, as has been said many times in my blog, visits from family and friends are the best gift, especially when they bring home-baked or home-cooked food. But then, maybe the most special visitors are the babies and tots that old people can oooh and aahh over, and grand–or great-grand–parents can take pride in.

Valentine’s Day is another chance to do something special to help aging parents and elders we care about– and isn’t that our goal!

Note: Check out 8 Valentine’s Gifts for Patients–2016 update


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



Help Aging Parents With/By Simple Creativity on Valentine’s Day

Think Valentine’s Day. Doesn’t it conjure up thoughts of youth, lovers, girlfriends, boyfriends? Aging parents don’t immediately jump to mind.

Remember the excitement Valentine’s Day generated in grade school (secret valentines placed by classmates in a big decorated box?), then as a teenager and finally as a young adult?  But what about aging and old people?

Perhaps the following, from a grandmother in her late-80’s, sums up most older people’s expectations for Valentine’s Day: “In my younger days I sent Valentines to my 4 children and their children–my grandchildren.  I’d put a few dollars in the grandchidren’s Valentine. But I haven’t done it recently–there are so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren now.”

When I asked what she’d like for Valentine’s day she laughed and said, “Any time someone thinks of you–it’s nice. It would be nice to get a Valentine in the mail, but I’m not expecting any.”

Getting something (other than junk) by snail mail, still brings pleasure–especially to older people. (I experimented and learned a lesson sending e-mail holiday cards to a couple in their mid-60’s, a couple in their mid-80’s–plus two people in their 40’s–in December.  Follow up: Only the people in their 40’s opened the email. The mid-60’s couple thought it could be a scam and the couple in their 80’s didn’t even remember seeing it in MAIL on their computer).

I think it’s safe to say, doing something nice for aging parents and grandparents needn’t be elaborate. It can be as simple as mailing a Valentine–or a recent picture of a grandchild glued to–or enclosed in–a Valentine.  And of course you can make the latter. Everyone learned how to fold a red piece of paper in half and cut the 1/2 heart in grade school. Some double-stick tape adheres a photo in the center! Voila!

Handmade Valentines (which I once made) are cherished and much less costly than store-bought. When I saw the Valentine Tea Cup on the http://www.marthastewart.com/264539/teacup-valentines-day-card Stewart video, (video playlist), I was again inspired. I’ve printed out the template for the tea cup and will look for some paper (maybe even stiff wrapping paper) to make it. The Valentines on the video look so professional and adult children who do scrap-booking will find them easy to make because they probably have some of the decorative punches etc.

I don’t do scrap-booking or have punches. And I may fold a heavy piece of paper in half for the card and make only the cup and spoon.  But I’ll no doubt rummage around for a small silk flower, piece of fabric or a ribbon to glue on somewhere….maybe even make the two-dimensional effect by rolling two small balls from paper towel pieces and gluing them to the cup so it stands out. Then I can put the tea bag, VIA coffee packet, or gift card behind the cup to make it 3-dimensional.

Since I’m not a baker, I wouldn’t attempt baking and decorating a cake, petits fours or

Inspiration Martha Stewart...Ice Cream Sandwiches

cookies. That said, there are many sites offering recipes and while daunting, the “easy” cakes on this site could be worth a try. Martha Stewart’s cookies would be my speed, love how they look and the recipe looks simple enough-but then I’m not a baker.

Simplicity on Valentine’s Day seems to be treat enough for older people. Something hand-made (a card), edibles (French macaroons, cookies, a cake, indulgent beverages)–or a phone call, a visit or a meal out–convey thought, caring and love. And another opportunity to help parents age well.




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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.