INCHING TOWARDS 80: Phones- Tech-Challenged Seniors vs Teens

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The video below is making its rounds. What does it say about the brains of older people–and of those much younger? We may be too hard on ourselves??!!

You will realize from the re-do post that follows tomorrow, returning to blogging is posing some challenges for my older brain–frustrating, not critical. It was written yesterday; planned for publishing today. I’ll save it until tomorrow to publish, that way no one is on overload. Since the weather is still very cold and getting colder, the redo perhaps adds insight into the older brain–as well as dealing with cold weather. 

Watch this video and the next (the interview that follows). Does it lift spirits?
Related: A Test for Teenagers  

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.

UNDERSTANDING AGING PARENTS–ELDERS’ TIPS TO COMBAT HOLIDAY LONELINESS

First posted in 2009–with variations each year
Sharing with SantaIt’s The Haa, Haa–py–est Time of The Year (?)

The words and melody from the radio filled my car. A winter wonderland was outside. Kids, amid shrieks of laughter and merriment, were sledding down the hill at the high school on anything large enough to sit on. I’m certain school vacation is adding to this happiest of times.

My counseling background kicks in. I know that holidays aren’t the happiest of times for many old people. So I decide to phone some elderly friends, simply to say “hello” and ask “how are you?”  Let me share what I learned–

It’s the happiest time of the year for children– who have none of the responsibilities of adulthood.

It’s the happiest time when elders and younger family members can be together–feeling the warmth–sharing, and reminiscing. The excitement of the children and grandchildren provides a background of energy and optimism.

And yet–

“The holidays are a time when our mind drifts back to past Christmases that were happy times. It’s a sentimental time,” recalls one 80-year-old widow. “It’s a wonderful time when families can get together, yet a lot of people are completely alone. As people get older, they have experienced losses. Especially for those who’ve lost their mates, other people’s happiness can be a reminder of the losses we’ve incurred. We’re just more vulnerable to that kind of thing when we get older.”

“Unless there’s a lot of family around and a lot going on, it’s depressing,” says a 70-year old man.

There’s agreement that it takes effort for older people to find this a happy time. “It doesn’t just happen,” says one.

“It’s what you make of it when you’re older,” says another. “If you make the effort to be with people it’s good, but it can be exhausting. We may continue to decorate and continue to write the notes on the Christmas cards because we want our home to look festive and we like to get letters back after we write the notes. But we need to trim down and trim back so we aren’t too tired to enjoy.”

And then– elder’s tips:

1. “Keep in close contact with elders–aunts, uncles. Make sure they’re not forgotten.”
2. “A phone call is wonderful; it doesn’t have to be a visit.” An octogenarian relates “I had a wonderful phone call recently from a niece who lives far away.” (Most old people prefer a phone call to an email. A phone call is active, implies interest in hearing  the other person, provides stimulation.)
3. “It’s nice to take older people out to something, but take them to something that’s rather quiet, that isn’t too taxing an experience.”
 Forever stamp
And let’s not forget the value of Christmas mail. Is an old friend of our parents–to whom we could send a card–  still alive?  Note 2014 update below.
                  * * *
12/20/14 Update: Sr. Advisor R (age 101) phones us. Her spirits are the best they’ve been recently. Why? She received 2 unexpected Christmas greetings. One, a newsy Christmas letter from the son of an old friend (who died years ago).

     The second from my 4-hours-a-week cleaning person. She and R spent time together on R’s many visits to us when I worked. In spite of R’s limited vision, she said she was writing these two people to let them know how much she appreciated being remembered.

While It may not be the Haa, Haa-py-est time of the year for many older people, we can make it better.
                                                           *
               Specific Thanksgiving Gifts Help Parents Age Well  (intangible gifts for empowering and affirming self-worth)
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities. respected professionals and selected publications–to help parents age well.

Entertainment for Elders– Lifting Spirits in Winter

PFS Garden in Spring ~Click to enlarge

Philadelphia Flower Show ~2013  Spring blooms inside                      (Click to enlarge)

Lifting Elders’ Spirits, Lessening Winter Woes

Entertaining elders and aging parents in winter can be problematical. Too many storms and chilling temperatures lead to winter doldrums, especially in parts of the US this year.

Understandably many older people hesitate to go out, except for necessities. Cabin fever. Grumpy dispositions. Inertia.

The antidote: Think spring and take elders to a flower show. Leave the cold and the reality of leafless trees and non-blooming plants and enter the sunshiny atmosphere and beauty of spring.

Flower shows abound in February and continue for months. Chances are there’s one that’s not far away. No matter the size of the show, it’s uplifting to experience spring in winter.

Mature tree~in forest exhibit PFS 2014

Mature tree~in forest exhibit PFS 2014                   Click to enlarge

Major shows, like the Philadelphia Flower Show, import mature trees, thousands of flowering plants, and tons of dirt to create gardens of our dreams and beyond.

Philadelphia Flower Show 2013There may be entertainment. There are always exhibits, usually tempting plants and gardening accessories for sale, lectures, and something to eat.

Many shows are handicap accessible and have wheel chairs (some noted below). It makes sense to plan ahead for the major shows*.  Money-saving packages for hotels, transit etc. often exist.

Feb. 19-22: Connecticut Garden and Flower Show Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford.

Feb. 19-22: Rhode Island Flower & Garden Show “Garden Adventure,” Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. Handicap accessible; wheelchairs available.

Feb. 20-22: Arkansas Flower & Garden Show” Statehouse Convention Center, Little Rock

Feb. 20-22 and Feb 27-March 1: Southern Spring Home & Garden Show “Carolina Calling,”The Park Expo and Conference Center, Charlotte, NC.

Feb. 21-Feb. 22: 19th Annual Garden and Bonsai Festival Davie, Fla.

Feb. 27-March 1: Vermont Flower Show “Spring Reflections, Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction, VT. Check out “History and Fun Facts.”

*Feb. 28-March 8: Philadelphia Flower Show “Lights, Camera, Bloom” is among the largest and most prestigious flowers show in the world. So timely for those experiencing the winter that parts of the US has endured. Handicap accessible; wheel chairs available. March 11-15:

March 11-15: Boston Flower & Garden Show “Season of Enchantment.” 100 years old, show will be held at the Seaport World Trade Center. Limited number of wheel chairs available “on loan.”

March 14-22: Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier. Wheelchairs available at no charge, first-come, first-serve.

March 18-25: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show “Mother Nature Going Wild,” San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo (I love the design, photos and color that come with scrolling down this link to the show.)

April 15-19: Cincinnati Flower Show “Celebrate Cincinnati,” in downtown Cincinnati along the banks of the Ohio River at Yeatman’s Cove.

According to Web MD, 1 in 4 people experience winter woes which normally end in April. A flower show may be just what the doctor ordered to lift their spirits.Click to enlarge

 


Winners!

Related: Calendar of 2015 Flower Shows in US

Also related: “Beating Winter’s Woes,” Web MD

 

Entertaining Elders, Seniors and Aging Parents: Super Bowl 2015 Commercials

“Lost Dog” Courtesy Budweiser

“Lost Dog”–can anyone resist? Most popular  Ad–Courtesy Budweiser

What could be better entertainment for aging and elderly parents than watching some of these commercials, if they didn’t see the game?

Sunday, February 1, 2015. Super Bowl XLIX –and parties. My Seattle friend told me the shelves usually stocked with chips were empty at her supermarket. While Seahawks’ and Patriots’ fans (male and female) were no doubt glued to their TV’s, mostly men occupied the room with the large TV at the party we attended yesterday (far from Seattle and New England).

Again this year I thought about aging parents and elders in care centers who were/are football fans, or simply watched past Super Bowl games looking forward to the commercials. And again, I wondered how many still watched on TV or had fallen asleep or no longer cared.

If spirits need lifting, watching that little puppy in this year’s most popular “Lost Dog,” plus a few other Super Bowl 2015 ads, could be just what the doctor ordered. Last year’s simple message “Dog loves horse” is replaced with “Lost Dog” but could just as well be “Horse Loves Dog.”

Check out selected links below, then pay a visit to aging parents or old people you care about with your laptops/tablets/notebooks and share. The videos make excellent conversation starters…not the same old subject matter. (You’ll also find, below, links to last year’s best commercials. They again still put a smile on my face, so I’m again sharing them with you.

Entertainment. When we bring the world in–especially to those who can’t get out–we add stimulation and hopefully engagement with something outside themselves. Many of last year’s commercials had simple, nice messages–“Dad saves son,”  “America is good,” “Dog loves horse.” Of the 50+ commercials this year, the six selected below are, I believe, most likely to resonate with older people. They aren’t easily categorized. The commonality: They’re all spirit-lifting and generate good conversation as we try to help the parents and elders we care about age well.

2015
Lost Dog
Pay With Lovin’
My Bold Dad
Beautiful Lands
Wisdom
Real Strength

2014
Puppy Love
America the Beautiful
Dad’s Sixth Sense
Gracie

Note: As most know, for full screen, click bottom far right icon on ad’s screen

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.

Understanding Aging Parents– Tips From Elders for Reducing Holiday Loneliness

Sharing with Santa

 

It’s The Haa, Haa–py–est Time of The Year (?)

The words and melody from the radio filled my car. It looked like a winter wonderland; and kids, amid shrieks of laughter and merriment, were sledding down the hill at the high school on anything large enough to sit on. I’m certain school vacation is adding to this happiest of times.

Then my counseling background kicks in. I remember that holidays aren’t the happiest of times for everyone, but connections with others do lift spirits. I phone a few aging friends with the usual “hello” and “how are you.” (Counselors are trained to ask objective questions–not leading ones.)

I do think this is the haa, haa-py-est time of the year for young and young adult children– who have none of the responsibilities of adulthood; and–discounting the stress that  shopping entails– for newly-marrieds who are looking forward; and for young couples with children who still believe in Santa.

It’s a happy time when older and younger family members can be together, feeling the warmth, sharing, and reminiscing about the past. And the excitement of the children and grandchildren provides a background of energy and optimism.

On the other hand elders say–

“The holidays are a time when our mind drifts back to past Christmases that were happy times. It’s a sentimental time,” recalls one 80-year-old widow. “It’s a wonderful time when families can get together, yet a lot of people are completely alone. As people get older, they have experienced losses. Especially for those who’ve lost their mates, other people’s happiness can be a reminder of the losses we’ve incurred. We’re just more vulnerable to that kind of thing when we get older.”

“Unless there’s a lot of family around and a lot going on, it’s not the happiest time of the year. It’s depressing,” says a 70-year old man.

There’s agreement that it takes effort for older people to find this a happy time. “It doesn’t just happen,” says one.

“It’s what you make of it when you’re older,” says another. “If you make the effort to be with people it’s good, but it can be exhausting. We may continue to decorate and continue to write the notes on the Christmas cards because we want our home to look festive and we like to get letters back after we write the notes. But we need to trim down and trim back so we aren’t too tired to enjoy.”

Next question: How can younger people help? Answers:

1. “Keep in close contact with elders–aunts, uncles. Make sure they’re not forgotten.”
2. “A phone call is wonderful; it doesn’t have to be a visit.” An octogenarian relates “I had a wonderful phone call recently  from a niece who lives far away.” (Most old people prefer a phone call to an email.)
3. “It’s nice to take older people out to something, but take them to something that is rather quiet, that isn’t too taxing an experience.”
*            *             *
Why not pick up the phone and talk with at least one older person who lives alone or feels isolated? We can brighten his or her day. We can make older people feel special and cared about…because they are. And we can add interest to their lives. Major studies confirm that connections are one of the most important factors in successful aging. It may not be the Haa, Haa-py-est time of the year for most older people, but we can make it better.
                                                                * * *
12/20/14 Update: Sr. Advisor R phones today. Her spirits are the best they’ve been recently. Why? In the mail she received 2 unexpected Christmas greetings. One, a newsy Christmas letter, from the son of a dear friend (who died at least 8 years ago). The second from a woman who cleaned 4 hours a week for me when I was working. She knew R from R’s many visits to NY over the years–always thought R was very special. R’s response–in spite of her vision issues, she was writing these two people a note back to let them know how much she appreciated their thoughtfulness.
It doesn’t take much to lift elders’ spirits, does it?

Aging Parents: Gifts That Look Great!

They say “It’s what’s inside that counts.” No argument here. That said, doesn’t anything that looks great on the outside raise our spirits…and those of our elders?

Two gift-giving holidays are fast-approaching. I think of the value of extra nicely wrapped gifts–where the initial fun is seeing them, followed by the joy of discovering what’s inside. Again this year, the Garden Section of our Woman’s Club has purchased gift items and wrapped them attractively–always making sure they contain some plant material (nothing artificial).

Three days ago they were on display, lining one side of the main room at the Holiday Open House. Some are above, once again ready to be taken to a nearby nursing home the next day. The Club member, who has always headed this project and transports the gifts to the nursing home, reports that the patients “light up” when they see the carts filled with these packages come through the door.

The stuffed dog has its nose in the air, while the list of contents in the adjoining basket looks you right in the eye.

All gifts are on the approved nursing home list, since we don’t know the recipients. Note partial list in photo at right. The pine cone with red bow counts as plant material. (Click once or twice to enlarge photo.)

Of course when gifts are for parents and friends, the only rules for gifts are those you set. Tins of hot chocolate and boxes of cookies and candy aren’t off limits. Additionally you know their wants and needs.

Cellophane makes baskets and open boxes look great! Putting it over a basket with a bow or ornament at the top converts a plain basket of gifts into a professional-looking showpiece.

Ditto for today’s colorful Christmas bags….just gently twist red or green tissue paper around the gift(s) and put it or them in the bag. Use tape and wrap gifts in the traditional way if you wish. But it’s not necessary with the decorative bag.

This year I learned lining a box–inside and out with holiday paper–is easy, requiring just a scissors and scotch tape plus the paper. And placing wrapped or unwrapped gifts inside makes a wonderful display–no top needed (below). Cellophane around the box and over the top, tied at the top, is an option (but not necessary).

I

Sometimes it’s the little things that ignite the spark of joy. A few extra minutes to buy tissue, cellophane, bags and ribbon can bring added excitement to aging parents and elders we care about, whether living independently or in a nursing home. As the letter Garden Sections members received years ago reminds us:

Dear Ladies,
My nice little plant is doing very nicely and is happy.  The Christmas tray and notepaper plus pens are a wonderful gift. We are all very appreciative of all the goodies you sent to us. You make our holidays much more exciting. We are old and sick, not dead. I hope you all know that your thoughtfulness is appreciated.
 My Christmas basket from last year still decorates my room.
Thank you and God Bless.
VM