Aging Parents: Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers Part 2 2015

Cake by Esperanza

Round-up of 50 Gifts for Fathers and Grandfathers
A tie!? When men “dressed” to go out ties were a most popular Father’s Day gift. While still a popular gift, today’s more casual dress code makes me wonder about the future of ties…they aren’t listed under “Accessories/Clothing” in part 1.
However, this Father’s Day Cake, complete with tie, could be a creative answer for those who bake and like using marzipan. Can anything top making this cake as a loving tribute to a great Dad or Grandad? For those who don’t bake, my round-up continues…..

Hearing: Hearing loss is a problem for older people and for those who communicate with them.

  • Assistive listening systems: products for TV watchers who need very high volume to hear well (while others don’t). Click the preceding link then scroll down to “Assistive Listening Systems” if you wish to educate yourself.
  • Amplified Telephones=better conversation for all. This link provides a quick education as does the “Amplified Telephones” section of this U. of Calif at San Francisco Medical Center site.
  • A good audiologist’s contact information. Do the research to up the odds that the hearing loss will be diagnosed and corrected. Put the information in a gift box with the appropriate note and offer transportation to and from the appointment if you wish.
  • This  2011 NY Times article, mentions/praises Clarity phones, you might want to  click the pictures (amplified phones, mobile phones) for more info.
  • Googling “telephones for hearing loss” provides additional phone options.

Pampering

  • Starbucks’s VIA ready brew individual instant coffee packets–regular or decaf in 3, 12. or 50 packs for coffee lovers. My Dad would find them pricey–Probably wouldn’t buy them for himself. (Costco used to carry them.)
  • Keurig Coffee Maker and coffee pods–a year-round, expensive–a gift my dad would never have bought for himself–a family-get-together-to-give gift perhaps. Coffee lovers, young and old love it and the coffee pods that can be delivered monthly.
  • A mug (perhaps with a family photo?) to microwave the coffee in.
  • Good bottle of wine
  • Wine refrigerator 
  • His favorite microbrew beer (a case?)
  • Massage
  • Professional shave
  • Manicure/Pedicure
  • An easy-care plant–decorative and life-affirming
  • What about that Father’s Day cake?

Visionwe know vision changes with age; these gifts can enhance

  • Large print books (for those who still like the feel of a book)
  • An electronic book. Because the font can be enlarged–I hear it’s a Godsend. The background color can also make a difference so check this out with someone knowledgeable.
  • A Verilux lamp can be especially helpful for those with vision issues. Two people I know (one with advanced macular degeneration) have the “Original Natural Spectrum” floor model. They say the light bulb adds clarity and the gooseneck directs the light where it does the most good for reading or doing desk work.
  • The mini-maglite, small flashlights that give great light in dark places.                             
  • Pocket magnifying glasses great for reading small print (think menus and the check) in dark restaurants. Pocket 3X strength magnifying-glass takes up little space, is light weight, not pricey (around $10 at Barnes & Noble), remains lit without having to keep a finger on any button.  Amazon”s Lightwedge magnifier gets same rating, looks similar.Also check out the 5X strength ($9.99) from another mfg. Note: This guide for buying magnifying glasses for those with low vision can be helpful.
  • White dishes make it easier for macular-vision affected people to distinguish their food on a plate, for example. Read: Contrast makes the difference
Here’s to successful shopping!
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.

When Aging Parents Can No Longer “Do.” Ways To Empower So They Can Continue to “Do.”

“No one likes to see a lessening of themself.”
Julia age 80+

I’ve never forgotten a counseling course at Teachers College.  We were told how important it is NOT to take something away from one’s psychological foundation (it gives us our psychological strength/confidence) without replacing it with something positive/helpful. To take something away and not replace it, weakens the foundation.

Yet normal age-related changes can take away–or at best lessen vision, hearing, energy, flexibility, strength and much else. As we try to help parents age well at some point we become aware of the “lessening” (which parents may have tried to cover up–think driving).

How can we support, compensate, empower or substitute so elders can continue to “do?”

While we know one size doesn’t fit all, we can do some of the leg-work and perhaps partner in the final “doing.”

Five Examples

1.  Julia, a noted master gardener and very proud woman–then in her 80’s– had less energy, less muscle strength and was physically less flexible. Bending and digging in her garden was painful. As a Mother’s Day gift, her adult children accompanied Julia (she still drove) to the nursery. She selected the plants; they planted Julia’s garden. Julia could continue to pick and enjoy the vegetables and flowers and pull a few weeds when she wanted to. With her children doing the physical labor, Julia  continued to do what she loved.

2.  Karen was an instinctively supportive daughter. She always bought more than she needed when items were on sale at the grocery store. Her mother (87) loved cooking, but food shopping was difficult and tiring, especially in NYC with taxis involved. So Karen, who worked full-time, would plan–on a weekly basis– an afternoon, take the “extras” to her mother and they’d cook together. Karen’s mother could continue to “do.” Priceless togetherness–plus her mother had a new supply of nutritious, delicious prepared food–some of which they froze.

3.  Failing hearing was creating a significant loss for Linda’s friend’s mother, whose mainstay was playing bridge. Her bridge group no longer wanted to play with her because of her hearing loss. The friend’s idea: replace  She continued her mother’s weekly bridge games–by asking 6 good friends to play in every-other-week rotations. (See “How a Good Friend Helps.”)

4.  Mobility problems can cause additional problems from falling to isolation. Thus how we support and substitute is key. If it isn’t easy for elders (and those who transport them) to get around, they don’t.  This means doing the research and getting it as right as possible the first time. Translated: initially buying the best required equipment, making certain it’s adjusted so the fit is right, and making certain one uses it correctly–especially canes and walkers (light-weight ones, heavier ones with a basket or tray and/or seat); and wheelchairs (companion wheelchairs, “regular” wheelchairs).  For still-driving people, perhaps a mini-van, whose back area easily accommodates a wheel chair (and obviously a walker), makes everything more doable.

(A polio victim’s son found a used Chrysler Town and Country mini-van for his 74-year-old mother, with a remote that opens/closes doors and the tailgate and a pushbutton inside that opens/closes the aforementioned. She has continued her life, causing little additional burden to anyone.)

5.  Safe driving requires good vision, hearing and reflexes. Carefully-planned solutions need to be substituted or result in isolation or unsafe driving. One daughter offered transportation for social outings when parents no longer drove at night. Since she or her siblings needed to know ahead of time, they and the parents decided on the one night parents would go out each week. With advanced notice they’d make themselves available 1-2 additional nights.

Towns/cities provide transportation services for seniors. Getting them to replace being able to jump into the car and go at will with a bus schedule can be difficult. That said, Aunt Mildred took the bus downtown to the Beauty School in Portland until she was in her early 90’s (and baked cookies for the drivers). When she moved to assisted living, a small bus came, by appointment, so she could continue her hair appointments at the Beauty School (where she also enjoyed gossip, and her manicure).

Creative thinking isn’t everyone’s forte. But we can tap our parents’ doctors, out-of-the-box-thinking friends with aging parents, and professionals specializing in geriatrics (ie. geriatric social workers) for ideas to supplement the “lessening”—as we try to help parents age well by continuing to “do.”

RELATED:  Mayo Clinic article on Canes
                        NY Times article re: problems from non-fitting canes
                        How to buy a cane
                        The Right Cane for Aging Parents  8/13/11 Help! Aging Parents

Note: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.
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Aging Parents: As Mother Lay Dying

Among the Things I Wish I Knew…Ahead of Time

Helping parents age well doesn’t end until their heart beats its last beat, to my way of thinking. I didn’t realize I thought (or felt) this until Mother rebounded amazingly for three months after successful heart valve surgery, then went into a coma. (We’d been warned the surgery could stress other parts of the heart and end in heart failure, which it did.)

Mother was already hospitalized when I raced (flew) cross country, rented a car, and broke every speed limit to be at her hospital bedside. Half hour later she was in a coma. Something in me (and I think in Dad) wanted her to be able to die at home. But it was Memorial Day weekend and we learned, upon asking, that getting any kind of caregiver etc. help immediately was out of the question.

An attractive room in the mostly-empty hospice section of the hospital was available and was suggested to us as an option. Local designers had decorated each room individually–very pleasant atmosphere. Regardless of Mother’s state of functioning, she would like this pretty room I thought. She was moved there. Perhaps it made only Dad and me feel better.

Never-the-less I remember going out within the hour and buying fresh fragrant flowers for her bedside table. I wasn’t in denial. She’d always loved the fragrance of flowers and although they say hearing is the last to go, I was uncertain about sense of smell. Looking back, I realize I would do what I could to help my parents age as well as possible until the very end. Today I think that would have included palliative care. We would have been better prepared. If Mother and Dad wanted it, Mother would have been at home and not in the hospital at the end.

This outstanding (to me) NPR radio segment, “How Palliative Care Helps–One Iowa Family’s Experience,” features a family and the physician supporting them. A rare front-row seat, so to speak, of palliative care in action. Those of us who have been helping our parents age well (whether on-site, or from far away like myself), help both our parents and ourselves when we understand outside sources of support (palliative care and hospice) and their differences–way in advance of ever needing them–if possible.

Related:

https://helpparentsagewell.com/2013/03/09/pallative-care-and-hospice-both-help-aging-parents-consider-the-differences/

 “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely research and information from highly respected universities and professionals,  plus some practical stuff, to help parents age well.

Lonesome,Talkative Aging Parents: Phone Calls

To age well, connections to others are very important.
We know that, yet we can feel like we’re talked
to death; and that’s not good.

PROBLEM: Phoning an aging parent who talks and talks and talks can seem like punishment.

This may not matter as much, when we have nothing better to do with our time. Yet when adult children are frazzled and stressed or they’re just plain tired, there’s help.

First, identify which aging parents are most likely to be too talkative.
1.  Those have hearing problems and talk and talk because that’s easier than not hearing and understanding what is coming through the ear-piece.
2.  Those who are lonesome.
3.  Those who may not have talked with anyone all day.

Many of us mentally plan a phone call to aging parents into our daily routine no matter what….to bring fresh ideas, news, stimulation, or to check that they’re alright, or let them know we’re thinking about them and/or we care. Sometimes the timing is just plain bad– Their need to talk, trumps everything and we listen and we yawn.

Admittedly I fell asleep once, sitting too comfortably in a chair while being too tired, but dutifully phoning a living-alone 89-year-old. The older person on the other end of the line began a monologue and kept moving from one topic to another, barely coming up for air in between subjects. I couldn’t get a word in. The next thing I knew I was jolted from my short slumber–hearing “Susan, are you still there.” to which I quickly lied “of course.” (The truth would have been such an insult.) How embarrassing!

THE SOLUTION:

  • Partial solution–A phone with technology for hard-of-hearing users; or a hearing evaluation leading to purchasing– or wearing– hearing aids.
  • A well-charged, cordless phone, a headset to plug into the phone, a medium-or larger deep pants pocket or small shoulder purse, and a reasonable calling plan for adult children.

Last month my friend, Monique, told me she phones her 88-year-old mother in France at least every other day and they talk a long time. Mentioning how she got all the laundry done, worked and weeded in her garden, etc. etc. while talking to her mother, I was curious. Upon questioning, she said she went to Best Buy, bought a headset that plugs into that little hole (under the flap with a tiny raised headset logo) on today’s cordless phones, dials the number, then–with earphones adjusted–settles the phone into a pocket or a little shoulder purse and simultaneously talks with her mother and does her work.

When a phone call is impossible, try a fax–assuming parents have a fax machine. It conveys you’re thinking about them, but omits conversation. Or–at the beginning of the phone conversation–structure and control the call with something like “I only have two minutes but want to say hello and let you know….”

Staying connected–one of the three most important factors in helping parents age well; but one we should be able to handle well.

2012 Holiday Gifts for Aging Fathers and Grandfathers–3

Why do gifts for older men seem to take more thought and ingenuity than gifts for women? Or is this a question basically asked by women–who, we might assume, purchase more gifts than men? Although tagged as aging mens’ gift ideas, this list is clearly appropriate for aging women.

5. Hearing:  Older people’s hearing loss is a problem for them and for us, so think about–

  • Assistive listening systems: for TV watchers who need very high volume (http://www.hsdcstore.com/FAQs/DigitalTV.htm) while others in the room don’t.  To educate yourself, scroll down on the link to “Assistive Listening Devices.”
  • Amplified Telephones=better conversations for all.  http://telephonesforhearingimpaired.com/  provides a quick education as does the  “Amplified Telephones” section of this U. of Calif at San Francisco Medical Center site:  http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/hearing enhancement_devices/ 
  • An appointment with an audiologist. (Possibly locate the audiologist, make appointment, go with parent to appointment.) To lessen any emotional overlay, this may be most effective with objective reporting of facts (eg. “I don’t know whether you noticed, Dad, but yesterday I told you John just phoned and you answered ‘But I just talked to Joan two minutes ago.’ You’ve been doing a lot of that lately, Do you think an appointment with an audiologist would be a good idea?”  I admit that’s not the kind of gift every parent wants, but something appealing can always be added from other categories.

If hearing is an issue check this NY Times link: http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/functions-to-make-phones-easier-for-the-elderly/ which mentions Clarity’s phones, http://shop.clarityproducts.com/.

I pay little attention to company’s emails sent to my blog’s gmail, but because of the NY Times article, this interested me. Click the amplified phones picture for Clarity’s offerings.  Some phones may meet an aging parent’s needs. Also Googling “telephones for hearing loss” provides additional phone options.

6. Pampering

  • Starbucks VIA ready brew individual instant coffee packets–regular or decaf in 3 or 12 packs for coffee lovers. Dad probably wouldn’t buy it for himself. Easy, microwaveable, no mess.. Pricey, however, COSTO carried it and may still.

  • A massage or a professional shave
  • Nice pajamas
  • Comfortable bathrobe

Vision: We know aging produces vision changes in many.

  • Large print books (for dads who still like the feel of a book); large print newspaper, large print crossword puzzle book.
  • The Kindle (which I hear many like best) or other electronic book, where the font can be enlarged–a Godsend I hear for people with vision issues.
  • The pocket-lighted-slide magnifying glass (Black & Silver Pocket LED) from Great Point Light offers magnification and light with a simple pull. Takes up little space, is light weight, not pricy ($9.95), remains lit without having to keep a finger on any button, great for reading (menus/bills) in dark restaurant. It was carried at the Container Store, Staples, and Office Max last year. Haven’t physically checked this year. This website offers more details, including how-to information for selecting a magnifier.

We’re into Chanukah, with two weeks left until Christmas. Here’s hoping that the last 4 posts have helped with your holiday shopping.

 

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.

Aging Parents: The Practical, Important Foundations for Aging Well– Fundamental 3

4 Fundamentals–Fundamental #3

#3. Hearing: Regular hearing check-ups. Purchasing the right hearing aids when needed. Sr. Advisor, M, is–but almost wasn’t–a staunch supporter of hearing aids. Hearing well is a given–until we don’t, and risk missing out on stimulation and information. Hearing loss can become a safety factor as well if, for instance, one doesn’t hear a car coming—and what about heeding certain instructions. (Think telephone instructions, announcements at airports.)

After taking many weeks to adjust to her needed hearing aids, M was so enthusiastic about alleviating hearing loss that we devoted a post to her experience and advice- https://helpparentsagewell.com/2010/05/22/why-hearing-aids-get-put-in-a-drawer-never-to-come-out-again/ Not only do people with hearing loss miss so much, they also cause exasperation in those having to repeat over and over so it’s a negative for everyone. Clearly doesn’t help parents age well.

M has mulled over the question of why people easily accept wearing glasses to improve vision but resist hearing aids.  Perhaps because so many younger people wear glasses with fashionable frames whereas mostly older people have hearing aids (which they try to hide?). Thus, people generalize–hearing aids signify “old.” Is it because it takes perseverance to get used to them? Or is it because they’re expensive and many don’t purchase the best for their situation and spend money, but end up wasting it on an unsatisfactory product that’s not worth using for various reasons? Or they don’t know there’s a return policy.

Check: there should be a return policy on hearing aids. If the first don’t seem right after giving them a good try, try others. (Note: Dad bought expensive new hearing aids; died three weeks later; we were told to return the hearing aids for a full 30-day-refund, which we got…no problem.)

Also check this March 2012 video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=wEoJsdhnW2A. It’s informative and features the Medical Director of the Ear Institute at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. He makes a good case for hearing loss being more noticeable than today’s small hearing aids. (US News‘s 2011 Best Hospitals edition ranks NY Eye and Ear #26 in Ear, Nose and Throat [and #8 in ophthalmology] in the US.)

NYEE has also posted an on-line “simple self-assessment quiz” under Get Your Hearing Tested at http://ilikemyhearing.org/?p=288

Become a Moving Target, See Well, Hear Well. Important for Aging Well.

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