A Father’s Day Round-Up of Gifts for Aging Dads-updated 2012, 2013

Father's Day Cake made by Esperanza

Father’s Day Cake made by Esperanza


The cake should look familiar–from my last year’s Father’s Day post. Today I’m rounding up gift ideas from my past posts and adding some. Indeed I’m also adding some hidden agenda items that enhance aging parents’ quality of life, designated **. (You’ve probably thought about them but never had the courage to act.)  Since Father’s Day is Sunday, here’s the list–by categories–that should help us last-minute shoppers.


  • Cane (measured correctly) or walking stick
  • Hat (to shade a bald/potentially balding head)
  • Sport shirt. (Dad liked long sleeve ones to protect his arms from skin cancer–a definite concern as he aged.)
  • Sleeveless cardigan (not over the head) sweater vest. Easier to get off and on if buttons aren’t a problem. Older people run cold. Dad wore it at home. It also looked good under a jacket when he went out. (This style is hard to find…know someone who knits?)
  • An easy-to-use umbrella–opens/closes with the push of a button. Note: there has been a lot of rain this spring. (Totes makes one.)

Computers–especially designed for seniors: Check the 6 options in my May post https://helpparentsagewell.com/2011/05/28/computers-especially-for-seniors/  .

  • A-Plus Senior Computer
  • Big Screen Live
  • Eldy
  • GO computer
  • WOW computer
  • Pzee computer

  For the even less-technology-talented, check out 


  • Magazine Subscription
  • Netflix
  • Subscription to newspaper–hometown, financial
  • Tickets to sporting events etc.–accompany Dad or for Dad and a friend.
  • A short outing with Dad (fishing trip, golf game, movie, zoo, his old neighborhood if it’s near–you might learn additional family history).
  • Membership to the YMCA
  • Membership to a gym
  • Membership to Silver Sneakers
  • A good blood pressure gauge may be a gift that helps parents age well, possibly recommended by doctor.
  • A great pair of shoes for walking
  • **This medication reminder was featured in a respected hospital’s magazine, sent to seniors in surrounding communities.  http://www.guardianmedicalmonitoring.com/medication-management.asp.  Good idea for forgetful fathers (and mothers)?

Hearing:  Hearing loss in older people is a problem for them and us.

I pay little attention to company’s emails sent to my blog’s gmail, but because of the Times article–this interested me.  Click the amplified phones picture for Clarity’s offerings. A few phones (may or may not meet your Dad’s needs) are on sale for Father’s Day.
Googling “telephones for hearing loss” provides additional phone options.

  • Starbucks VIA ready brew individual instant coffee packets–regular or decaf in 3 or 12 packs for coffee lovers. Microwave in mug. Pricey. Dad probably wouldn’t buy it for himself.
  • A massage or a professional shave
Vision: We know aging produces vision changes in many.
  • Large print books (for dads who still like the feel of a book)
  • The Kindle or other electronic book, where the font can be enlarged–a Godsend I hear
  • The mini-maglite, small flashlights that give great light in dark places.
  • Pocket magnifying-glass takes up little space, is light weight, not pricey ($9.95 at Barnes & Noble), remains lit without having to keep a finger on any button, great for reading (menus/bills) in dark restaurant.

You can laugh with Dad if your “hidden agenda” gift is discovered. But he will know your heart’s in the right place.

……..additional ideas in next post.


San Diego Zoo: Perfect For You; Aging Parents Too

While on vacation, my time is very limited and  access to wireless is ify at best.  Nevertheless, this week and next, I will try to post on schedule (Tuesdays and Saturdays) if possible.

Tonight I’m wondering: why do we see zillions (slight exaggeration) of adult children pushing all types of strollers at the San Diego Zoo, but very few aging parents (or adult children pushing wheelchairs with aging parents) enjoying the attractions that zoos offer?  Is it that an aging parent–or old parent–no longer enjoys this?

We’ve been invited to stay with friends at a beach in the San Diego area. Walking barefoot in the sand and putting feet in the water feels good!  So does breathing the  fresh air.  And sunsets on the Pacific ocean are magnificent.  (See photo and August 17th post.)

But I want to talk about Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo in Balboa park, which we visited today.  Just minutes from downtown San Diego by way of the freeway (if it isn’t loaded with traffic), this park is a visual treat: acres of amazing vegetation, wonderful gardens, and beautifully designed buildings (many are museums) from a bygone era.  Simply driving through the park’s many acres is a memorable experience.

The zoo, however, is the major attraction for us.  With top professional attention given to endangered species, conservation, natural habitats, the latest in animal care, and no doubt more animals than any other zoo in the US, it’s in a class by itself.  AND it’s user-friendly to every age group.   Wheelchairs, strollers, and some kind of little motorized vehicles–along with trams and gondolas–make the zoo easily accessible.

But be forewarned: if our goal is to help aging parents by giving them a fun outing, and because every animal from A-Z can be seen in its natural habitat, it’s important to know the limits of our parents’ energy.  Prioritize what’s of most interest. (There are plenty of workers and volunteers who can help you).  I’ve learned 3 hours is my max, but as little as an hour at the San Diego Zoo can be a highlight for young and old if it’s well planned.

Check weather, go early to beat the heat in summer, take handicapped parking permit and bring or buy water on a hot day. Remember: aging parents often don’t feel thirsty, but dehydration is dangerous.  If a trip to the San Diego Zoo is doable, it will help aging parents to have another outing they’ll never forget.

Helping Parents Age Well With a Short Summer Outing

The Coast–The Shore
When it’s less than an hour and a half ride (usually doable for older people who may even sleep part of the way), a drive to the coast offers a change of scenery. Some say the sea air wets the appetite. No doubt fresh fish and clam chowder on the menu help.

Beach towns: attract people of all ages, usually have an abundance of restaurants, interesting shops, and places to stay. Even the smallest, quietest towns have a favorite eating spot.  Sticking a toe in the water, or walking barefoot in the sand–independently or on your arm–can be an added bonus for parents. Old-timers said saltwater was good for feet. Breathing the fresh air is another plus.

The options to help aging parents have a change of scenery are only limited by time and interest. Destinations to places of quiet and beauty, charming towns, museums, vineyards, or a ride in the country–are among the possibilities.

Lakes, rivers, mountains, and national parks offer so much natural beauty–with picnic tables at most places of scenic interest and/or dining in nearby small towns.  Major attractions like Multnomah Falls in the West (Columbia River Highway out of Portland, Oregon), may have a good restaurant (check to see if reservations are advised). Touristy or not these natural attractions take people “out of themselves” and into what’s real.  Clearly a change for aging parents who are inside most of the time and appreciate (or once appreciated) nature.

Driving with my parents to small towns they used to frequent near their home but didn’t get to any more, was a welcome outing.  And some towns, like the historic towns in New England, they loved. There are well-known towns like Saratoga Springs, NY (pretty town, famous horse racing track) that, depending on where parents live, can be a short outing to a popular destination.  Simply driving around those towns and having lunch or a midday meal, helps parents age well…gives them something to think and talk about for a long time.

Small museums in New England: The Clark’s world class paintings in Williamstown, Mass., the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. and the Bennington Museum in Vermont with its Grandma Moses collection, are gems. The latter should be uplifting. Grandma Moses was still painting at 100.

Summer Ideas for Motivating Unmotivated Aging Parents

“My parents were my priority. I devoted myself to their needs,” says a 60-year-old married daughter (who had three teenagers at the time).  “For over a decade their commitments and evening social engagements took precedence over plans my husband and I had as well as my friends…In retrospect, I gave up a lot.” This is the extreme, of course.  Her parents remained connected and engaged, aged well, lived long lives, and she was at their “beck and call” until the end.

Being engaged and connecting with people is important–we know that. To that end we’ve spent untold hours providing opportunities for our children. Think: hours spent car pooling and driving back and forth to various activities and birthday parties when children needed a driver? We make these efforts to help children age well. Should we make the same effort to help parents age well?

Most of us don’t make such a sacrifice. The devoted daughter’s parents never had the chance to become couch potatoes. But what about those who are at risk or have already slipped into that mode? It’s frustrating…

….Yet summer presents additional opportunities to jump-start aging parents, assuming they can walk–unaided or with walker or cane…and go for a ride. Usually this doesn’t entail a huge commitment from adult children. Most aging parents want to get out for something they will enjoy.

If they don’t, don’t be disappointed. It happens often. Just plant the idea and let it “gel.” Then try again later. It may make some feel good just knowing that you’re caring enough to try and try again before they finally accept.

  • To begin: Set aside enough time so this isn’t a “rush job.” Time is in such short supply for us, but often hangs heavy on older people plus, they move slower. If they’re going to feel this is an imposition–older people have pride and many won’t want to impose–forget it.
  • Plan with them (including them shows respect) or give them options to choose from. For those who don’t get out much (except to go to doctors), “short and sweet” may be best. You can judge that based on your comfort level and theirs. It can be as simple as:

  1. sitting in a park, having a sandwich, watching people, dogs etc. which provide easy topics of conversation
  2. taking a drive through town, to places your parent is familiar with, to new buildings and areas of town (if a parent rarely gets out), to your home (have a snack there)
  3. going to a mall, watch the people, go into a shop that interests your parent or has inventory that used to interest your parent (sporting goods, technology, hardware store) and check out what’s new, have a snack
  4. a planned-ahead visit to a friend of your parent’s, or to see a grandchild, or family member
  5. a drive that includes their grandchild’s school, your workplace, another important place in your life or their earlier life (assuming they’d like that).

Obviously during the nice-weather days of summer, opportunities are unlimited. Time, your parent’s strength, the activity, and your tolerance are the keys to success. And, if successful, planning for the next time gives aging parents something to look forward to. Senior advisor, R, calls that a “carrot.” And, according to her, “carrots” are extremely important to older people and definitely help parents age well.

Aging Parents: Able but Apathetic Older Parents Part 2

Additional Ideas to Engage and Invigorate

Spring does exist for those living in the hard-hit-by-winter East–the moment they enter the Philadelphia Flower Show. It does wonders to help older parents’ spirits as well as our own, even when we must return to our homes with inches of accumulated frozen snow in the yard. So what other attraction could provide that “pop” for aging parents?

Before leaving the subject of flower shows–if they are of interest–Google “flower shows” and shows all over the country are at your finger tips. Click “flower shows 2010” and check out Chicago–March 6-14; Portland Me.–March 11-14; Chicago and San Francisco–March 24-28 and Newport RI–June 25-27 to name a few.

There are boat shows, car shows, etc., some of which should appeal to apathetic aging parents. If music and theater hold more appeal, check out:

Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass. The Boston Symphony presents outstanding musical programs during the summer–indoors and outdoors. Located in the Berkshires, the surroundings are beautiful and it’s very popular with older people. Bring a picnic if you wish, but do check the weather forecast.

The Shakespearean Festival, Ashland, Oregon. This is a favorite summer destination, now in its 75th year, and the quality of the productions is well known. Ashland is a picturesque town not far from the California border. While the pear trees in Ashland are the delicious variety used in Harry and David’s famous fruit gift packages, there is also a well-remembered, disgusting-tasting mineral water, Lithia water, that comes from an underground source. Dad stopped to make us drink some from a fountain in the park anytime we drove through Ashland when we were kids. Said it would help us live to 100. He died at 94. Hmmm.