A Truly Inspirational 96-year-old’s Birthday and Wisdom

The best, most meaningful 96th birthday celebration I ever attended.
Sr. Advisor R is an example of aging well, a model for us. Read on about her and the luncheon that celebrates her. We’re also reminded
“What Comes Around, Goes Around.”

Living in the same home since the 1940’s, R has welcomed many young families and babies to the neighborhood–always with a small gift. The babies have graduated high school and college and new families have filled homes that the others have left. R is a surrogate grandmother, mother and wise friend to young and old. Who else would have a turkey dinner sent to a neighbor’s son at college to share with friends who couldn’t be home for Thanksgiving?

R didn’t want a celebration for her 95th birthday. This year was different. A neighbor in her 40’s was giving R a 96th birthday luncheon. 11 guests (ages 13-96). The hostess’s 13-year-old daughter wanted to be there as did her 25-year-old sister (recuperating from an ankle fracture).

The large dining room table was extended to seat all the guests. It was set beautifully. Stemmed glasses, hand-decorated by the hostess with each guest’s name, replaced place cards. Lunch was simple and tasty, lovingly prepared by the hostess and the 13-year-old. The personal touch and the caring were evident from beginning to end.

No commercial gifts–something more priceless: memories–spontaneously asked for by the hostess and shared around the large dining room table. A 50-something-year-old guest expressed how fortunate she felt to live across the street, saying after her mother died, she turned to R for understanding and wisdom.

Another shared a time her husband and son were having difficulties and R suggested writing a note expressing her thoughts, instead of entering into an argument creating heated emotions. It works!

The 13-year-old said R was responsible for her New York trip with her class last spring, when her parents were uncertain about financing it. R explained to her mother why it would be a worthwhile experience (and gave the child a bit of spending money for the trip). R was as dear to these younger and older women as they were to her.

R has lived a long time, making the effort to remain involved, always thoughtful with words and deeds. Is that what enables her to so successfully span generations? Is it her genuine interest in others or the fact that you hear wisdom and feel a solid connection to what matters when she talks with you? Is it because she’s an inspiration and remarkable? Well, everyone and every one of her 40+ birthday cards with notes say she is.

And 11 of us fortunate females experienced what it’s like to genuinely celebrate someone who more than touched all of our lives. No large, fancy celebration could replicate this.

Related: 2014 updatePearls of Wisdom from our 99-year-old Sr. Advisor, R.

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.
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Aging Parents: Elderly Broken Hip-Full Recovery-Part 3

Attitude+Rehab=97-year-old’s broken hip recovery

Excellent physical therapists play a major part in aging parents’ broken hip recovery success following surgery. But there is considerable initial adjustment.

An aging parent’s broken hip means a lot of down time and takes a lot of patience–especially at first. Little strength is limiting; lying flat on one’s back produces boredom. Pain and the insecurity of what lies ahead can easily lead to grouchiness and depression in the nicest people–until they see progress. Because we’re a culture of instant gratification and short attention spans–or so they say, older parents may have more patience than we, which clearly benefits elderly broken hip recovery.

97-year-old, Senior Advisor R. reports that upon admission to a rehab facility one must make a complete adjustment. One must accept the way things are. “It’s not like a hospital–not like having someone at your beck and call when you ring the call-button,” says R, adding “It’s not real nursing (except for those who must have it).  Asking the hardworking staff for more than one’s entitled to only incurs frustration for both patients and attendants. Realizing this early, helps. Indeed some people make themselves miserable wanting more than the staff can provide.”

R. says she continually reminded herself that she was only there for one reason: the therapy—not full attention from an aide whenever she wanted it. They made it known: “We’re not here to help you, we’re here to help you go home.”

R. laughs when she recalls the first day of therapy: a circle of wheelchairs inhabited by “a bunch stroke victims, fall victims, Parkinson sufferers, mentally disabled–all in physical trouble.”

It helps aging parents to move forward when they understand that some can’t do the exercises at first, but shouldn’t get discouraged. “Our strength is in short supply when we begin,” R observes.  “While a lot of pain at first is discouraging….there are good days and not so good days. But you’ve got to get through it.”

“The Parkinsons woman, for example, had no expression, her head would go down on her chest, she couldn’t follow through, but bit by bit they keep working with her and finally make progress. There’s pain, some exercises are easier, some so hard, some people are doing well, some not so good. When there’s wonderful therapy, bit by bit people get stronger.”

One grown daughter comes for her mother’s sessions.  For some mothers (and fathers) their adult children’s support is encouraging and it doesn’t disrupt the group’s work.

So we help aging parents’ broken hip recovery by finding excellent rehab for them…And then by our presence, our encouragement, our empowering, our running errands as needed…and perhaps by a few prayers.

For a summary of 16 key points in R’s recovery, click: https://helpparentsagewell.com/2011/01/25/elderly-broken-hip-full-recovery-and-going-home-summary.

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