Still not completely back~however…

 

While “must-do” and “don’t know how to do” have prevented my planned return via “INCHING TOWARDS EIGHTY,” I return here to wish all who are continuing to follow, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPYand hopefully much more stable and peaceful—2019.

Simplifying Helps People Age Better

As we inch towards 80–a new normal for me is attempted, taken from the late Sr. Advisor R’s “SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY.”  Admittedly I don’t get an A+. That said, after trauma, overload etc. it makes sense to be conscious of ratcheting down…simplifying.

When on overload, it’s difficult. It involves decisions: what must be done and how to do it efficiently. Reconnecting at holiday time this year— after a 2-year absence since my husband died—topped my to-do list.

I was going away. Armed with address list, boxes of cards and stamps, in addition to the normal necessities, I headed to the DC area. Perhaps the break, getting out of the routine, contributed to clearer thinking. In any event, I take out the address lists, look at the quantity of people, and think “options:”

1. Computer-generated letter: print, fold, sign, address envelope, lick stamp…perhaps more personal and informative than a card, but as time-consuming.

2.  Emailed cards: Subscribers (I’m one at Jacquie Lawson) have loads of choices and the attractive holiday note cards allow for short or long personal messages. Some people prefer a card that can be held and displayed (I’m usually one). But the red and gold e-note-card prevailed. My unexpected reward came via the reply card that accompanies the e-card. I received many notes back—heartwarming and interesting, especially for someone who has been “out of the loop” and that includes so many older people.

Whether snail mail or email connecting at holidays enriches life. Doesn’t that help all ages feel good? And shouldn’t that help parents and us age better–if not–well.

Note: This blog still takes no ads. The link to JL is to get an idea of e-card offerings.

Thanksgiving and the Circle of Life: Transitions–2016

Traditions and Transitions Impact Aging Parents
and the Elders We Care About

Last year my annual Thanksgiving post focused on turning over a tradition, hosting Thanksgiving dinner, to the next generation. For me it signaled a major transition. We had hosted Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends since the first year of our marriage–whether we were in the East, West, or Southwest. Little did I know that now, a year later, my husband wouldn’t be alive. But since I’d relinquished the Thanksgiving tradition last year, being a guest for Thanksgiving this year was easy and welcomed at a time of many transitions that aren’t always easy….or welcomed.

Last November and again this November I think of Eloise, often written about in this blog’s early years.. My mother’s age, she was incredibly creative and energetic. She was also philosophical about human behavior and generously offered me advice. Although valuing and perpetuating traditions, including her Christmas-tree tradition (featured in House Beautiful in the 1940’s or 50’s and continued another 40-50 years), Eloise emphasized that it’s good to break with tradition. Reason: we shouldn’t be saddled with–or bound by–it. That perhaps paves the way for gentler transitions as people age. Eloise, who died at 95, would have known that.

As the holiday season begins (granted Christmas displays seemed to spring up the moment Halloween ended, so perhaps it already began), I’m in a better position to understand how meaningful it is to be–and feel– included. Clearly major holidays that celebrate family and togetherness call for more sensitivity to older people’s emotional needs. For many–if not most at some point in time– social networks dwindle and families with whom to celebrate may no longer exist.

Early this October a letter from City Meals on Wheels arrived, soliciting funds for special Thanksgiving dinners for those New Yorkers who are alone and needy. My empathy and heightened sensitivity prompted an immediate response.

Tender times. Things change. I’ve chosen to forego air travel to the Southwest for Thanksgiving this year. My goal is to reduce stress and, when possible, avoid situations that make me feel sad. I plan to have a happy Thanksgiving and wish the same for you.

The twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn*
*       *      *

Related:  *From The Lion King: “Can’t You Feel the Love Tonight” Tim Rice (lyrics), Elton John (music). Click to watch and listen on YouTube.

Check out new article on loneliness from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine in Newsworthy–right sidebar

Help Aging Parents: Memorial Day 2016

Once again, we remember.
May 30, 2016

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Honoring WWI Regiment  NY

 

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WW !! Memorial  DC

American cemeteries throughout the world pay tribute today to those who gave their lives to preserve and insure our freedom.

This link offers information about events today in England, France, Italy. Luxembourg, Netherlands, Philippines, and the US.

I’m back in the Southwest–Arizona, where my husband was born. Above all, he wanted to return here. In spite of his partially unresolved medical issues we made the trip a week ago Saturday,

Making the decision to undertake this trip was not easy and entailed much thought and planning.The latter will be part of a later post.

Right now I’m headed out to the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona to meet a longtime best friend, whose husband, a former Brigadiar General, is there. This friend walked me home when I began a new school in first grade.  The cemetery covers a huge area–right in the middle of desert. I’ll try to post a photo later. Until then–

We planned to meet a few blocks away from the cemetery after the official ceremonies ended as we thought it would be less crowded. There was, however, a steady stream of cars coming from the east and west–needing to turn right or left to enter the grounds. Upon entering, large American flags flanked both sides of the main roadway.as far as the eye could see.  Small flags were placed by every in-ground grave–in the sand.

This is desert–no grass. But then the landscape is not the important thing here.. The loved ones who have been laid to rest on grounds less impressive then Arlington or Normandy are loved and their memories are treasured just the same; and their families weep just the same.

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Reflections on Thanksgiving and the Circle of Life–2015

This is one of the few times in decades that Thanksgiving dinner has not been at our home. Now that Sr. Advisor R has died the celebration has passed to the younger generation (in their 40’s). And they upheld the tradition beautifully this year.

I vividly remember the old days, working at the high school until noon the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, then scrambling to launch into preparations for the big dinner Thursday. The women–my mother, m-i-l and I– worked late at night in our bathrobes in the kitchen–enjoying special time together as we readied everything but the turkey for the next day.

Now the younger generation–(both husband and wife work as did my husband and I)–loves to cook. They prepare Thanksgiving dinner together–with a little day-time help from a mother and aunt. They have children (1 1/2 and 3 1/2).  Relinquishing the Thanksgiving responsibility was welcomed by me, probably a bit dreaded by them; but the result was a most successful transition.

Being with family, having no pressure, and having little kids who are entertaining and fun– not crying or having melt-downs–is a pleasure.

***

Things change. Our dining room table, decorated in past years with boughs, fruit, candles and autumn leaves–the latter with the names of those present and dearly departed–now displays yet-to-be-put-away memorabilia and small items from my mil’s (Sr. Advisor R’s) home.

Our houseguests leave tomorrow. For old time’s sake I will gently take the saved, dried autumn leaves from their plastic bag in the drawer and view the names of those who have passed on. They were family or friends who were like family and–as they came together for Thanksgiving at our home–created a special warmth that enriched our lives.

A new tradition begins.

Every twist of the  kaleidoscope moves us all in turn.–Elton John

Memorial Day Weekend 2015–Offers Meaningful Connections with Elders and Aging Parents

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Memorial Day Weekend 2015…

…Is there a better time to have meaningful conversations with the older–and the oldest–people in our lives?

Tum, Tum, tum-tum-tum.Tum, Tum, tum-tum-tum: The beat of drums–comes from outside our NYC apartment. Looking through the side window I catch a glimpse of the colors going by, carried by men in uniform. They are followed by a group of about 50 additional uniformed men, marching proud and tall. I learn these men have just placed the above wreaths of fresh flowers at a 1918 Memorial near an entrance to Central Park.

The commonality of experience, hardship, and sacrifice for country, is shared by countless families over countless years. Some memories lie deep within our elders–aging parents and grandparents and no doubt people who never married. Some memories may still haunt; some may never be spoken of. We know this from movies and books we’ve read, if we haven’t experienced it in our own families.

Never-the-less there’s a positive for those of us with aging friends and family members as well as those for whom we’re caregivers if these elders like to talk about the past. It’s the opportunity to ask them meaningful questions that convey genuine interest in them and in their past. It’s something that becomes more precious and more rare, as their contemporaries–with whom they’ve shared a commonality of experiences–die or move away.

The inability to have conversations with people who share the commonality of place and time is a significant loss. And how many younger people have real interest in, or take the time to listen to memories of the past?

The Veterans from World War II die each day. Viet Nam and Korean War Veterans are, themselves, now senior citizens…aging parents and grandparents. Memorial Day weekend offers another opportunity to raise feelings of self-worth in these elders by honoring them with our genuine interest in their service to our country.

Note: Click photos to enlarge

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Elders, Aging Parents and Grandparents: Memorial Day 2015 and The World War II Memorial

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 (Click photos 1x to enlarge; 2x to see “WWII” on some caps.)

Our Elders, Aging Parents and Grandparents: Journalist Tom Brokaw highlighted their specialness, coining the expression “The Greatest Generation” for his popular book about them. On May 19, 2015 countless aging parents and grandparents (and I) visited the World War II Memorial to pay tribute and to remember.

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The Memorial is located on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument with two identical  pavilions at each side: one commemorates war in the Pacific; one  commemorates war in Atlantic.

Veterans in wheel chairs (or not), wearing blue shirts and caps that identify their branch of the Service, are easily recognized and unobtrusively thanked by strangers passing by.
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Many, like the two Veterans below, don’t mind posing for pictures. We sense pride that they made the world a safer place over half a century ago. These two former Navy men served on the USS Gearing–DD710. The camaraderie has endured as ship’s website confirms.IMG_4078

The volunteers wear green shirts. Some Vets–as well as many non-Vets– assist and push the Vet-occupied wheelchairs.

IMG_4065IMG_4074Part of the National Park Service, the World War II Memorial definitely does not glorify war. It does glorify the deep-seated values of our elders and a time in the history of the United States that affected each and every person living in our country.

And we–or at least I–find most old people don’t hesitate to talk about the WWII war years. In fact reminiscing seems to be a popular pastime with the elderly in spite of all the adversities they’ve experienced. (Depression and war to name two.)

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As we try to help parents, grandparents and elders we care about age well, providing opportunities to reminisce is an intangible gift. For a tangible gift they’ll never forget–if they can travel with you–visit the World War II Memorial. Doesn’t the Memorial Day weekend lend itself to thinking about both options?

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*****

Related: For a postcard-type look, visit this site:  Full-screen photos of all areas of the World War II Memorial, taken on a rainy day, as opposed to my smaller (unless you click them)  photos, taken when it was sunny and warm.

EASTER AND PASSOVER THOUGHTFULNESS THAT HELPS PARENTS AND ELDERS AGE WELL

Passover and Easter: Another chance to lift elders’ spirits and Help Parents Age Well
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Grocery stores, drug stores, and Dollar-type stores have countless inexpensive items for Easter baskets.

IMG_2981A little cash and a little creativity, and ribbon and some cellophane if you like, can turn an ordinary basket into an unexpected surprise that lifts spirits and brings smiles.

   Passover  April 3-11
Easter April 5

The Last Supper was a Passover Seder, thus Easter and Passover are linked calendar-wise and as celebrations of miracles:
The Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt with the Red Sea’s parting.
The Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion.

IMG_2973Our elders fondly recall traditions that brought generations together: Passover with Seders and children looking for the hidden matzo; Easter with church services and children looking for Easter eggs. And always a special meal.

Holidays evoke warmth of family, feelings of togetherness. Yet we know holidays can be depressing for older people, especially those living alone, void of children and invitations to join family celebrations. On the other hand, opportunities for bringing pleasure to old and/or lonely people during Easter and Passover are many:

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Click to enlarge photos

Attending Easter services together, then…
…make the outing special by driving to a place with beautiful surroundings
…going to a restaurant in town where aging parents who don’t get out much can take a short walk (walker? wheelchair?), enjoy seeing normal activity and the window displays.
…having a meal at home with family–togetherness, conversation, participation…

…When Easter or Passover meals are at home and elders want to help, accept the offer. We know how good it feels to contribute.

One of our former Senior Advisors who lived into her 90’s, proudly reported that she made: chopped liver, matzo balls, gefilte fish, and horseradish for the Passover seder. Not easy at 89.  She said she was able “to work it out so I could make everything ahead.” And best of all perhaps for her, “It was a good feeling because everyone wanted to take some home–there wasn’t anything left.”

Last but not least, thoughts about the frail, isolated elderly who can’t get out easily: A visit is a gift in an of itself. Additional options:

IMG_2977…Bring… a little lunch or snack (“nothing big,” I’m told) to share while you talk (consider dietary restrictions if known)
…a few holiday decorated cookies or cupcakes
..an easy-care living plant–possibilities: philodendron [sweetheart plant], fern [nephrolepis], spathiphyllum [peace lilly–wallisi variety] or kalanchoe.
…a flowering plant for a sunny indoor spot or patio
…a bouquet of flowers

….allergies a problem? What about a basket filled with bunnies or matzos, and candies and a leafy plant.

Easter and Passover celebrate miracles. While we can’t make miracles, showing thoughtfulness to our elders is precious. (Actually it can be a miracle if normally unthoughtful family members decide to “buy in.”) And adding interest to life helps parents and the elders we care about age well.

IMG_2985.Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.