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.

Seder: The O’Learys, the Steins, 99 1/2-year-old R, Us + 47 others–continued

The fact that R wanted to attend James’s family’s Seder was a surprise. It was made even more surprising because R rarely made plans to go out two nights in a row (and we had previous plans to have dinner together the night preceding the Seder). And Seders are intergenerational–children of all ages. So there’s lots of energy. That said, R wanted to keep our Sunday night dinner date and go to the Seder the following night.

The street by James’s son’s home was filled with cars. We were let out in front.  At the exact moment we closed the car door so my husband could take the car in search of a parking place, James came down the long walkway from the house as if on cue. Greetings and hugs all around and a lot of conversation preceded our walk to the front door.

Once inside the house James’s daughter-in-law’s mother introduced herself and warmly greeted us. Then James’s wife appeared–another warm greeting as we were ushered through the house and out the back door to a patio and yard filled tables. (We’re obviously in a warm part of the U.S.) Our table had a red table-cloth–and one white straight-back chair for R.  (All other chairs were the rental, metal collapsible kind.) R’s seat was at the side of the table closest to the buffet and also offered a view of all tables. Obviously extra efforts had been made for R.

After being seated at the table well before the Seder began, R never got up and was never alone. I think we knew three of the 54 people there. But everyone knew James, who immediately sat down across from R and introduced her to everyone who came over to greet him.

While seated, but before the meal begins, Seders follow a prescribed script with guests–children and adults–taking turns reading certain passages in the traditional Haggadah (Passover prayer book). While the host (who was the leader) explained no one was required to read, neither R, nor any other adult, nor the children missed their turn–and R’s voice came through appropriately loud and clear (and she wore no glasses).

Throughout the meal R was constantly engaged–listening attentively, really interested and, as usual, sharing wisdom interspersed with up-to-date knowledge and always-interesting olden-days memories. During dessert and after, R was involved in thoughtful conversation with people she just met. And when we finally said our “Goodbyes,” (my husband and I were exhausted, not R) only  James, his wife, his daughter-in-law and his son remained.

4 Lessons Learned and 1 Observation will follow Saturday

Seder: The O’Learys, the Steins, 99 1/2-year-old R, Us + 47 others–1

A phone call from a friend who once baby-sat my husband brings an invitation to the family Seder Monday night, and included a special invitation for my m-i-law, Sr. Advisor R, who will be 100 in September.

R knew his parents, who passed away many year ago, and through the years James has kept in touch, selectively inviting her to things he thinks she would appreciate.

Several years ago R decided not to attend anything she wasn’t required to attend if it involved lots of people. It was too tiring, she said, even though she had developed a defensive technique for just such events. (She would find a comfortable chair a bit out of harm’s way and people could come over to her–or not. She felt if they cared, they’d come; and they did.)

We needed to ask R before accepting the Seder invite and were unsure whether she’d consider attending anything where there was “a mob.” I made the phone call. To my surprise R said “yes” she’d like to go because of James, who “was always thoughtful” and R had to turn down several of his pervious invitations.

If I report we were the last of the 50+ guests to leave the Seder, it’s true, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  The value of intergenerational gatherings and connections in helping older people age well was apparent. I will share this tomorrow.

Until tomorrow evening,
Susan

Passover March 25-April 2 2013 and Easter March 31: More Opportunities to Help Parents Age Well

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/%C3%9Altima_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5.jpg/320px-%C3%9Altima_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5.jpgAnother holiday (actually 2 holidays). Another opportunity in our efforts to help older parents and grandparents age well.

Passover begins at sundown on March 25 and lasts until nightfall on April 2.  Since Easter always occurs during Passover, the Judeo-Christian parts of the world celebrate miracles during the same time period every spring.

Many believe that the The Last Supper was a Passover Sedar. I’d never questioned it but was wondering “which night of Passover was The Last Supper” so I google that phrase.  First google offering: “Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Sedar?” It’s an interesting, well-documented and researched piece by Jonathan Klawansan assistant professor of religion at Boston University,  http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/was-jesus-last-supper-a-seder/ Skim it (it’s long) and decide for yourself. Or just put forth the question. It may provide food for thought and stimulating conversation as families gather together for the holidays.

Togetherness. Conversation–always part of these gatherings and of course, we know, connections and engagement are important factors in aging well. Older people have the opportunity for thoughtful discussion as well as reminiscing about old times and enjoying the energy of younger generations.

Last year’s Easter-Passover post https://helpparentsagewell.com/2012/03/31/easter-passover-miracles-and-opportunities-for-parents-to-age-well/lists 10 ideas for making Easter and Passover special http://thegenuinekitchen.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/matzoh.jpgfor older people. From enabling them to feel worthwhile by contributing to the celebratory meal, to going out for a celebratory meal, to thoughtful gifts for the frail and isolated elderly who can’t/don’t leave their homes, Passover and Easter easily lend themselves to enriching older people’s lives.

These holidays celebrate miracles. Granted we can’t make miracles; yet sometimes it can feel like a miracle when we can add enrichment in a special way…a way that gives aging parents and elders a lift and perhaps a lasting memory. Happy Passover * Happy Easter

Aging Parents: Ideas/Thoughts for Passover and Easter (updated 2011)

Holiday Thoughtfulness and Aging Parents
Peter Cotton Tail Garden Basket

A small bunny peaks out from under a flowered hat at bottom left of this spring basket, made by my friend. Wouldn’t it bring joy to an aging parent or to a senior in a care facility?

2011   Passover: April 18-26      Easter: April 24

We celebrate miracles: The Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt with the Red Sea’s parting. The Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion. Older generations fondly recall traditions that brought family members together: Passover with Seders and children looking for the hidden matzo; Easter with church services, children’s Easter egg hunts, and a special Easter meal. The timing of Passover and Easter are inextricably linked. The Last Supper was a Passover Sedar.

Holidays evoke warmth of family, feelings of togetherness. Yet we know holidays can be depressing for older people living alone, without children to visit or invitations to partake in family celebrations. On the other hand, opportunities for bringing pleasure to old and/or lonely people during Easter and Passover are many:

Attending Easter services together, then…

…dining at a place with beautiful surroundings that make the outing special
…going to a restaurant in town where aging parents who don’t get out much can take a short walk (walker? wheelchair?), window shop, enjoy seeing normal activity
…having a meal at home with family–togetherness, conversation, participation…

When the Easter meal is at home and elders want to help, accept the offer. We know how good it feels to contribute.

Ditto for Passover. One of our Senior Advisors says proudly that she made: chopped liver, matzo balls, gefilte fish, and horseradish for the Seder. Not easy at 89.  She says 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 and there wasn’t anything left.”

Passover Sedars follow a prescribed ritual– usually at home with family and often invited guests.  Yet there were no children to look for the traditional hidden matzo at a Sedar on the West Coast last year. What to do? Creative thinking perpetuated the tradition.

The oldest guests were sent on the hunt. And an excited 86-year-old found the matzo. While not traditional, life today with children and grandchildren living near is not the same as in times past. Adapting is the name of the game for holidays (and so much else).

And last but not least, what about the frail, isolated elderly who can’t get out easily? A visit is welcome and bringing little gifts, while unnecessary, is always a pick-me-up.

 Suggestions:

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
…flowers
…allergies a problem, what about a basket like the one above?

Easter and Passover celebrate miracles. While we can’t make miracles, planning ahead and giving older people something to look forward to is an additional gift–a gift that contributes to helping parents and elders age well, especially during holidays.