Aging Parents: Are Thank You’s Obsolete?

Wouldn’t you think THANK YOU like I LOVE YOU
would never go out of style?

What happened to “THANK YOU”
….not to mention “THANK YOU” notes

There’s a ubiquitious complaint among aging parents and grandparents, mostly ages 75+, who have sent gifts to younger family members (and others–think weddings). They don’t always receive a thank you.

  • For an older person who has spent time thinking about THE perfect gift–
  • For grandparents who have contacted their adult children to find out what gift their grandchildren would love the most–
  • For every old person whose way of showing love and caring includes time spent picking out the exact, perfect gift, possibly going to the trouble of wrapping it or having it gift wrapped–
  • Plus paying to send or mail those gifts….

…lack of a thank you can cause worry and/or hurtful thoughts (they aren’t appreciated, recipients are too busy).

Good manners were instilled in our elders. People wrote thank you notes for gifts…period. While good manners are much more relaxed these days, wouldn’t we think “Thank You” like “I Love You” should never go out of style? That said, many elders who have sent gifts (as opposed to personally giving them) are left wondering…

Did the gift arrive? Did they address it wrong? Did the store slip up?  Instead of gift-giving bringing joy, there’s doubt, anxiety and additional effort if they feel the need to track the gift.

If the gift was a check and they and don’t hear back, they not only worry if it arrived–but if it hasn’t been cashed when the next bank statement comes, the concern mounts. This age group remembers the old days, before computers, when bank balances were computed by humans, a time when mistakes were sometimes made. These elders may well check their balances to the last penny.

And there’s additonal frustration for those, especially widows (whether on fixed incomes or not), wanting to live within their means. An unbalanced checkbook is unsettling.

On the other hand, when a gift check is cashed in a timely fashion and no thank you is forthcoming, the reminder is one of thoughtlessness, lack of appreciation, not to mention bad manners.

Most elders can’t hop in a car any longer and drive to the mall to find that perfect gift. They may not order gifts online…may not use technology.

And if they don’t use technology, they can’t receive thank you emails. In the US and other countries where going paperless is gaining popularity in many schools and businesses, perhaps it becomes even easier to forget the value of sending a thank you, unless it’s by email or text.

That said, the cell phone is ubiquitious. And the only thing older people love–after being with children and grandchildren and those they care about–is hearing from them. Indeed, a timely phone call with a from-the-heart THANK YOU coming through the earpiece–be it a tiny little voice, or the mature voice of a very appreciative adult–can do wonders to lift the spirits of older people.

Related ideas:  This mother has taken care of THANK YOU for her young son with this email that includes a short video of her son and the gift.

I hear from a grandmother that her daughter takes a picture of her son with his gift and sends the photo to the gift-giver with a thank you note on the back. She writes THANK YOU and her son, now 5, writes “love” and his name below.

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.


Gifts We Can Be Certain Elders Want

IMG_2319MEMORY TEST: Have your aging parents or grandparents–or great-uncles or aunts– ever mentioned off-handedly or in conjunction with other thoughts, something they need, want or would love to have? And you file it in your memory as a gift idea for later on?

I’ve flunked that. Perhaps I’m not alone. Sunday I was reading posts in my archives and unearthed something I’d forgotten. Sr. Advisor, R, mentioned the retrofitted shower’s hand spray device was big and heavy for her 99-year-old hands according to that post. I had purchased a smallish, relatively light weight one when we remodeled our apartment’s bathroom. Its spray could be adjusted to pretty powerful if necessary. I knew it would be perfect–a needed gift.

To back up: R (who has aged in place in her home of 60+ years) had her shower retrofitted before her return from rehab following her broken hip surgery. She didn’t mention the hand spray until last March when I asked if I could write about her shower redo. That’s when I learned about the hand shower spray. How could I forget between March and November?!

Kohler K-8487Now that I’ve remembered, I will go to the Kohler website and show her the hand spray photo on my iPhone. (She is much less flexible, at age 100, with anything involving change; we try to be sensitive to that). Who knows, in the last 7+ months she may have become accustomed to that big, heavy hand spray! Since we have no tools and aren’t handy, a plumber would need to be part of the hand-spray gift. Considering the total cost, we want to avoid a mistake.

We’ll be with her at Thanksgiving and I know I’ll find a reason to casually bring up the subject. Since my iPhone is never far from me, showing her the photo will be simple. If she still has interest, a gift guaranteed to please will be coming her way at holiday time.

We know our parents pretty well.  Nevertheless, aging does bring changes. I think we all want to give gifts that add to older people’s lives, not give them clutter or something that causes problems. That’s why–from now on–when, especially, an older family member mentions something that is broken, not working, not right, has been lost etc. etc., I’m going to keep a list and pull it out well in advance of a gift-giving occasion. As we try to help parents age well, doesn’t that make sense?

Changing weekly: “Of Current Interest”(right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some free and some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

Moving From Home Leads to a Holiday Gift Idea

Charlotte Moving Company-Moving Simplified-#1 ...

Our moving day is fast approaching. There’s always so much more to do than one anticipates. Thinking about aging parents and elderly people going through this process makes me wonder how they do it.

Yes, adult children help.  And when aging parents are mentally–but not physically–able and must get help, I’ve become sensitive to the fact that many mourn the loss of meaningful things accidentally discarded by “helpers.”

For example, one person I know often refers to the fact that her “Birthday Book” got lost in her move. She blames her helpful children.  She continually apologizes for forgetting to remember her friends’ and relatives’ birthdays. I know she’s sincere.

I also know that doing the work required to put together a new book would be overwhelming at her age.  I’m thinking when we’re once again settled, I’ll sit down with her and we’ll work together and attempt to create a replacement Birthday Book. And that will be my holiday gift– something I know she’ll truly appreciate.

Hmmmm. Perhaps a generic holiday gift: replacing something that aging parents have loved using and/or treasured but have lost, misplaced, or used so often it needs repairing, cleaning, or replacing.  You get the idea.

Of course since we’re controlling and doing all of our moving, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves for regrets about things lost or discarded during downsizing. Then, of course, there are treasures we make a special point of moving safely…..

"You can say any fool thing to a dog, and...…….No matter what.

Aging Parents: Mother’s Day Gift Ideas (2015 update)

Also Click Great Gifts Tab Above

Mother’s Day always seems to creep up on me.  It quickly becomes too late for ordering one of the best Mother’s Day gift ideas. If, however, you’re too late but are creative, a photo and message in a gift-wrapped box has two advantages: anticipation created after seeing the photo, then subsequently receiving the gift itself. .

I’ve never seen this handbag in the East….maybe because it comes from California. But I’ve seen it in the West and grandmothers who have it, love it.  They should since it’s pricey. (Yet we all know–everything pricey isn’t loved by everyone).  At least one grandmother says it’s “a thrilling gift to receive…I don’t think any mother or grandmother would appreciate anything more.” She has the “Vanessa.” What makes it so special?

It’s a Brighton handbag, with an adorable photo of her grandchildren expertly reproduced on the back and front– a wonderful conversation piece of excellent quality….”sturdy,” I’m told. (I loved an old Brighton handbag with the family dog, in their former online ad,  but I’m guessing grandchildren’s photos usually win out.)

2015 update: If you want to get it for Mother’s Day, it must be ordered in person from a Brighton Collectibles store and that takes time so click store locater link now. Indeed, they no longer have photos of the–what they now call “Memory  Handbags” on their site. Does that make them even more special to the recipient??

The second pricey gift: the iPad.  An 88-year-old with macular degeneration received one as a birthday gift last weekend and says “it’s great” because she can enlarge the font to read books as well as the apps (some of which her children installed for her). She can once again enjoy reading a book. (I understand her kids went to the Apple store at 7:30 in the morning and there was already a long line.) You might want to read about Marti and her 87-year-old dad’s experience when she bought him an iPad.

A less pricey gift: the Kindle.  Again the size of the font can be enlarged, benefiting people with macular degeneration as well as others. While the Kindle is obviously not as versatile as the iPad since it’s made for reading books, it too enables many aging parents to enjoy reading once again.

Less expensive gifts are highlighted in a just-updated April 2010 Mother’s Day Gift post:  Happy Shopping!

Related: (click links)
2015 A Great Mother’s Day Gift-Inexpensive, Yet Priceless  Easy DIY or ask a friend to help
2015  Fashionista or Frumpy-Dumpy 1 and 2-flattering Mother’s Day clothing for aging moms

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