Help Aging Parents with One Short, Stimulating Outing

One of my cousins is in assisted living. This cousin has always been a favorite. She’s much older than I (Dad was next-to-the youngest of 7 children) and was unfailingly caring and welcoming to all family members in her younger days.

Still vacationing in the northwest, I wanted to do something special with her. I decided on lunch at a restaurant and a visit to the Oregon Historical Society in the city she lived in for the better part of her life…and still lives in–Portland, Oregon.
English: Entrance to the Oregon Historical Soc...

English: Entrance to the Oregon Historical Society Museum in Portland, Oregon, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It would:
  • be easy to navigate with a walker
  • provide exercise,
  • not overtire her
  • be something she could relate to and think about after our time together ended.

New museums have media and technological innovations that many in their eighties are unacquainted with.  From voices as a section is entered– to sounds of nature and music–to interactive displays. In the case of the the Oregon Historical Society I knew the small recreated 40’s and 50’s rooms would resonate with her, so too an old black and white TV that played–I think–an old Ozzie and Harriet program. And there’s a replica of the city’s light rail car one sits in, complete with video taking the viewer along–I presume–one of its routes.

My cousin was a “bobby soxer” during the war years and the display of the war years’ staples (uniforms, headlines reproduced on the walls, photos, dishes, caps worn by department stores’ delivery people etc. etc.) brought back a bygone era that evoked memories…….sweet. Then there was the typewriter that reminded her of the one her father gave her for her 16th birthday. And on and on.

I know the museum experience was meaningful and suggested she might want to ask one of her children (the one in the family who’s interested in the family history) to bring her back, since we couldn’t see everything in one visit.

She admits (when asked directly) that she’s bored at the assisted living facility, even though they have many planned activities. No doubt like so many people of “the greatest generation” (thanks Tom Brokaw), she doesn’t want to bother her attentive children. On the other hand, I think her children might like doing something different with her. It’s easy to get accustomed to routines. We forget some of the options right in our own back yard.

We help parents age well by adding stimulation to their lives. For me, this was really easy; for my cousin it wasn’t the same-ol, same-ol. For both of us, it was a great way to spend an hour after lunch.