Celebrating Elders’ Birthdays– What They Want; Not What We Want and Why

98th birthday

98th birthday

9 Factors to Consider

If we’re fortunate enough to have very old parents and grandparents who are still relatively healthy, chances are we become involved planning their birthday celebrations.

Sr. Advisor R will be 100 in  September. We are planning her party, again in her home town. There have been various kinds of parties for her over the years–taking into consideration health issues and energy. Indeed many variables that we might not think about become important for elders’ celebrations.

Considerations

Comfort level
1.  Do they like large (20+) or smaller gatherings?
2.  Do they mind–or like–surprise parties?
Practical considerations
3.  Do they have the energy/stamina for the large party? the smaller? or neither?
4.  Do they wear dentures?*
5.  Can they travel?
6.  How large is the party budget?
7.  Are invites telephoned, emailed, or snail-mailed?
8.  Gifts or not?
9.  What about family members who don’t get along?

The “Whys” 

Many of us, regardless of age, have preferences for small or large parties. Sometimes, especially for milestone birthdays, we think BIG, when small may be better. Yet energy level and health are major factors that can–and should–determine size. For example, Senior Advisor R had experienced pneumonia followed by lesser health issues the winter-spring preceding her 90th birthday. They sapped her strength; she lost considerable weight. Getting back to normal took many months.

Thus she wanted a small dinner party for her 90th birthday in September: 12 family members plus her best friend, at her favorite restaurant. We complied. It was perfect. We followed up with brunch at our home the next morning, as R agreed that the 4 out-of-towners deserved more than a dinner. It felt like a festive weekend on a small scale.

We initially agreed on a large celebration for R’s 95th birthday, but R nixed the idea after we (she and we) compiled a guest list of nearly 100. Instead she wanted to be surrounded by the people who were meaningful in her life (family, her best friend, and certain young neighbors) at a restaurant.

These neighbors know how to help an old person continue to age well. They bring her newspaper to the door each morning; the mail from the mailbox at the street to the door each afternoon; 2 women call ahead each week when they plan to go marketing, inviting her to go with them or have them bring groceries to her. R says she doesn’t know how she could continue to live independently without them. They mean the world to her and, I think, she to them..

The next year one of these dear neighbors–at her home– gave R a 96th birthday luncheon. No present could compete with the genuine love and caring that was evidenced by that birthday luncheon. We took R out to dinner with her niece and nephew the next night. (Only one big outing a day at age 96.)

R’s subsequent birthdays have basically included family members, her one remaining friend and neighbors at a club that has been wonderfully cooperative and attentive. The staff makes R feel very special in just the right way.  The photo above is at her 98th birthday party there.

We will celebrate R’s 100th birthday in September with a smallish birthday party–at the club–inviting 18 family members and possibly one surprise guest. (A surprise we are positive would thrill her.) Because R finds she gets too tired to enjoy herself when she must talk with too many people, she suggested two small parties. In October she’d like a simple, second party–around 18 guests: the neighbors and meaningful others in her life. In R’s case, it’s divide and enjoy.

We realize it’s not about what we want, or we think R would want. Rather it’s about what we know R wants. While she needn’t plan birthday parties any more, she still has definite ideas about what she likes.
*          *          *

Tuesday we focus on birthday party ideas, sharing a sample of past celebrations–some really good, one bad, one….well, you’ll need to decide for yourself.

 

 

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Gifts for Aging Fathers and Grandfathers–1 (2013)

NOTE:  FOR 2014 UPDATES AND 45 GIFT IDEAS PLEASE GO TO     https://helpparentsagewell.com/2014/05/31/aging-parents-gifts-for-fathers-and-grandfathers-part-1

More gifts ideas for aging fathers and grandfathers–than I think a man could possibly want–filled my Father’s Day gifts posts last year: 8 categories, arranged alphabetically, from “Accessories and Clothing” to “Vision.” I reread them, remembering the time and outside-the-box thinking that went into compiling the list.

Not needing to reinvent the wheel, I’ve updated the list and added a bit. I’ll post it in 2 parts so it’s not overwhelming. Hoping that your shopping is made easier and that the aging men in your life will have smiles on their faces as they open their presents.

1.  Accessories/Clothing:

  • 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 sweater vest (not over the head). 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 collapsible–opens and closes with the push of a button. (Totes makes a good one.)

2.  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

3.  Entertainment:

  • Subscription to a Favorite Magazine
  • Netflix
  • Subscription to newspaper–financial, current local or hometown they grew up in
  • Tickets to sporting events etc.–accompany Dad or have Dad take 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).
  • Add a premium TV channel
4.  Health/Hygiene:
  • Membership to the YMCA or a gym
  • Membership to Silver Sneakers
  • Toe Nail Clippers: for elders with still-steady hands who don’t have diabetes.
  • Panosonic’s Nose and Facial Hair Trimmer is older men’s most popular 2012 purchase according to the NYC Hammacher Schlemmer store  or catalogue–($19.95)
  • Does a good blood pressure gauge help old, older, and very old men age well? Recently an easy-to-use OMRON intellisense wrist blood pressure gauge, like the one pictured, was used on a patient in one of the doctor’s offices located in one of NYC’s top hospitals. (I phoned to double-check it out.) Check it out with your dad’s/granddad’s doctor.Product Details
    Omron Bp652 7 Series Blood Pressure Wrist Unit.  double-check on this UTube Video.
  • A great pair of shoes for walking
  • Hammacher Schlemmer’s (catalog: 800-543-3366) full screen pedometer (2 5/8 Hx 1 1/2 Wx 1/2 D). Steps walked, distance travelled, calories burned, time elapsed, average pace–all seen at once, on one screen operated by one button.
  • 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)?

To Be Completed Next Post……Until then, happy shopping

May 2014 Help! Aging Parents was again a finalist. Check all finalists’ blogs out by clicking the 2014 finalist badge at rightAnd many thanks again for your vote.

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

NOTE: 2015 ROUND-UP OF GIFTS FOR FATHERS AND GRANDFATHERS–PARTS 1 AND 2– IS THE MOST UP-TO-DATE GIFT LIST. READ NO FURTHER, JUST CLICK THIS LINK 

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.

Accessories/Clothing:

  • 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 

Entertainment:

  • 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).
Health:
  • 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.

Pampering
  • 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.