Help Aging Parents: I Just Called to Say I Love You

The flight back to NY will soon take off. Cell phones are active. One last conversation before we’re told to turn off all electronic devices–“anything with an on-off button,” says the flight attendant.  “I love you” seems a popular ending to the conversations. I’m thinking younger people use that expression a lot….sometimes so often that it seems to me its meaning is diluted, and I wonder how much it really means.

In the olden days it meant the world. Think Stevie Wonder and the popularity of the song whose title heads this post….. it continues: “and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.” I’m sitting on the plane for over 4 hours. My thoughts turn to aging parents, grandparents and elderly friends and I wonder how often they hear those–to their generation– tender words, especially when they live alone.

And then I think about care facilities and the “honeys” and the “sweeties” which clearly aren’t delivered in the empowering affectionate terms younger people experience. (If you’ve been reading my blog you know I find those terms diminishing, not endearing, to older people.)

So perhaps we should phone some elderly friends when we have unaccounted-for time and let them know how much we value them. We all know it’s important for older people to stay connected and I think it’s safe to say the elderly don’t receive that many compliments–or–what we used to call– “strokes.” And doesn’t a phone call show we really care? And doesn’t that make people feel good?  I know lonesome older people often talk and talk–and it’s much longer than we’d like; but that just proves how important the phone call is.

(….I’m recalling my father’s mother–an aging, small-of-stature, grandma-looking woman who would always tell us about any compliment she received.  I was a little girl then and it seemed strange that she would tell us about a compliment. In retrospect, it was obviously important to her–may have been one of the best things–or the best thing–that happened for her that week…)

My last thought is about the unconditional love from pets. R has said many times she’d love to have a pet again but at 98 she “doesn’t want to take on more responsibilities.” I get home very late tonight. She’ll be my first call in the morning.

2 Technology Gifts for Non-Tech-Savvy, Lonesome Seniors

People Change, Not Much, however….

As adult children we have the ability to view parents in a different “light” than when we were young.  Thus,

  • If–thinking back–parents were never self-starters, chances are this will never change.
  • If they didn’t initiate relationships when they were young, what makes us think they will be any different when they’re old?

Indeed, certain personality traits may have been masked because of a people-loving spouse who orchestrated the social life. Or perhaps natural relationships that develop among parents of children’s friends, work colleagues, neighbors– created a ready-made social group.

On the other hand, perhaps normally sociable, connected parents have just had bad luck, have lost friends to death or relocating, and can’t get going again.  (After 3 months, consider it depression that they should get help for.)

The truth is–the lonesome, isolated-feeling of older parents can spill over to adult children, burdening them with an emotionally-weighed-down feeling.  Another truth is, lonesome seniors aren’t easy/fun to be around–so it becomes a vicious cycle.

While we can’t change who a parent is, holidays like Christmas present an opportunity to delicately insert something into aging parents’ lives that can help them age well (if enjoying life more qualifies for this category).

Here’s where the Presto Printer Mailbox (see last post) could come to the rescue. Connections to others can come in daily, with “deliveries” much more often than snail mail.  And connections with others is one of the three most important factors in helping people age well, according to every study I’ve read.

If this works, parents can graduate to PawPaw (see last post), where they can receive and send mail. PawPaw has a free trial period. Presto has a 60-day-trial period, after which there’s a refund if not satisfied.

While both of these may be a bit pricey for some, it’s the kind of gift a family can join together to give.  And what better gift can a family give than the gift of connecting with others…one of the most important factors in helping people–in this case our parents or even grandparents–age well.