Aging Parents’ Gift: Easy, Thoughtful, Expensive—or Not.

Le Bernardin - New York, NY, United States. Delicious scallops in brown butter dashi. A must!

A Thoughtful Gift Than Can be Used Up: A Winning Combination for Elders and Us

It’s a custom that on birthdays my husband and I get to choose what we want to do. It’s always a wonderful day. This month I decided a meal at a fine restaurant was exactly what I wanted..

Expanding on this idea, we know–as people get older–they want to get rid of things, not accumulate them. So something that gets used up (like food) is preferable unless older people have specific needs.

As we were half-way through our meal, I overheard the mâitre d’ saying to the elderly couple being seated nearby something like, “Your children have arranged for your meal with us to be a gift from them.”

(My mind flashed back to the time we planned something like this for my parents who went up to Victoria, British Columbia for one of their birthdays. My brother found out where they planned to have dinner and I, credit card in hand, phoned the restaurant and asked that the meal be charged to me. It was a special occasion and–although far away–we wanted to have a part in it.)

Seeing the old man’s face light up and his wife’s big smile when the mâitre d’ announced the meal would be a gift from their children, made me want to take a picture. It would have been in bad taste, of course, so writing about it on my blog is the next best thing.

Thoughtful gestures. Gifts that can be used up. Expensive or not. A winning combination as we do our best to help parents age well.

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

Aging Parents: 10 Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts that Get Used Up–no Clutter!

Spending time with family–children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren–is what most older mothers want for Mother’s Day. Being taken out for Mother’s Day dinner with them adds to the pleasure.

What they don’t appreciate are gifts that become clutter–
–that they really don’t need or want
–that give them “problems” if they’re old because they need to figure out where to put them–
–where to store them,
–how not to hurt the giver’s feelings, and
–how to get rid of them.

10 Mother’s Day Gifts–that don’t last forever and are
thoughtful, eye-appealing, delicious, indulgent, exciting, pampering, practical

Pretty Packaging

 1. A pretty box* (she can recycle later to hold another gift for someone), with thoughtful card saying something like the Valentine message of several years ago: “I’ve put loads of love in this box. When you need a little, just open.”  Possibly accompanied by a picture of yourself/ family/grandchildren/ pet/hearts/candies–you get the idea.

2. Pretty, minIMG_2976iature-size cupcakes from the bakery (or DIY). Sr. Advisor R loves the looks and the taste–just the right size for an older woman, she says.

3. Nicely presented selection of special teas or coffees

4. Beautifully decorated box of favorite candy or R’s favorite candy (See’s which we hand-pick at the store, or the Sweet Sloops from Harbor Sweets)

5. LaDurée or other macaroons–eye-appealing, delicious, indulgent, extravagant.

6.  Lottery tickets–exciting for some; gifted in a pretty box or bag. Doesn’t the anticipation of possibly winning add some fun to an older mother’s life?

7. Lotions/oils could be called pampering, depending on the cost. Older skin is at risk for dryness. Moisturizing products to the rescue. Know your mother’s favorite or ask what’s best for older skin. One 93-year-old swears by Aveeno. She says it’s feels light on the skin, while keeping it from getting dry.

8.   Perfume is not in style in some places. However, one 74-year-old grandmother has a favorite perfume. It’s one gift she loves, she says–and can use it up. Check out Mom’s favorite perfume.It’s usually nicely packaged.

9. Gift Certificates
–Appointments at the hairdressers–or at beauty colleges (less expensive), help women look better and no doubt feel better when they look in the mirror. Messy hair spoils appearance–no news there! Make arrangements, make a gift card. This gift can lift an older  mother’s (or younger one’s) spirits and get couch potatoes out of the house.

–Pedicures are a necessity when people are either no longer able to reach–or clearly see–their toe nails. Older women’s toe nails aren’t necessarily visible to us. Have you checked your mother’s? Old nails can get thick, hard to cut and ugly. It’s recommended–especially for diabetics–that pedicures become routine around age 65. What could seem like an indulgence for younger people, becomes a necessity at a certain age.

–Movie script and restaurants’ gift certificates get Mom out of the house with Dad or a friend for entertainment or a meal. Moms say a break from cooking is a gift.

10.  A pretty spring-themed box of stationery or note paper for moms who still enjoy writing, accompanied by attractive “Forever” stamps.

Flowers always seemed synonymous with Mother’s Day and I assume we’ve all gifted beautiful bouquets and arrangements over the years. While Sr. Advisor R loved getting flowers (especially long-lasting bouquets of daisies with baby’s breath) most of her life, she said nicely–in her 90’s– that she no longer had the energy or inclination to dump the dead flowers and mushy water out and hated looking at drooping, dying, or dead flowers.

So we’ve given up gifting flowers. Admittedly, if I lived near–in addition to the chocolates–I would no doubt fill a pot with red geraniums for Mother’s Day and put it on her porch. (And replant or recycle when the plants died).

There’s still time to get these non-cluttering gifts and make mothers happy! And doesn’t this help them age well.

*boxes from Dollar-type stores

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

Related: Click “Great Gifts” tab under header at top.

EASTER AND PASSOVER THOUGHTFULNESS THAT HELPS PARENTS AND ELDERS AGE WELL

Passover and Easter: Another chance to lift elders’ spirits and Help Parents Age Well
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Grocery stores, drug stores, and Dollar-type stores have countless inexpensive items for Easter baskets.

IMG_2981A little cash and a little creativity, and ribbon and some cellophane if you like, can turn an ordinary basket into an unexpected surprise that lifts spirits and brings smiles.

   Passover  April 3-11
Easter April 5

The Last Supper was a Passover Seder, thus Easter and Passover are linked calendar-wise and as celebrations of miracles:
The Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt with the Red Sea’s parting.
The Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion.

IMG_2973Our elders fondly recall traditions that brought generations together: Passover with Seders and children looking for the hidden matzo; Easter with church services and children looking for Easter eggs. And always a special meal.

Holidays evoke warmth of family, feelings of togetherness. Yet we know holidays can be depressing for older people, especially those living alone, void of children and invitations to join family celebrations. On the other hand, opportunities for bringing pleasure to old and/or lonely people during Easter and Passover are many:

IMG_3007

Click to enlarge photos

Attending Easter services together, then…
…make the outing special by driving to a place with beautiful surroundings
…going to a restaurant in town where aging parents who don’t get out much can take a short walk (walker? wheelchair?), enjoy seeing normal activity and the window displays.
…having a meal at home with family–togetherness, conversation, participation…

…When Easter or Passover meals are at home and elders want to help, accept the offer. We know how good it feels to contribute.

One of our former Senior Advisors who lived into her 90’s, proudly reported that she made: chopped liver, matzo balls, gefilte fish, and horseradish for the Passover seder. Not easy at 89.  She said she was able “to work it out so I could make everything ahead.” And best of all perhaps for her, “It was a good feeling because everyone wanted to take some home–there wasn’t anything left.”

Last but not least, thoughts about the frail, isolated elderly who can’t get out easily: A visit is a gift in an of itself. Additional options:

IMG_2977…Bring… a little lunch or snack (“nothing big,” I’m told) to share while you talk (consider dietary restrictions if known)
…a few holiday decorated cookies or cupcakes
..an easy-care living plant–possibilities: philodendron [sweetheart plant], fern [nephrolepis], spathiphyllum [peace lilly–wallisi variety] or kalanchoe.
…a flowering plant for a sunny indoor spot or patio
…a bouquet of flowers

….allergies a problem? What about a basket filled with bunnies or matzos, and candies and a leafy plant.

Easter and Passover celebrate miracles. While we can’t make miracles, showing thoughtfulness to our elders is precious. (Actually it can be a miracle if normally unthoughtful family members decide to “buy in.”) And adding interest to life helps parents and the elders we care about age well.

IMG_2985.Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.

Easy-Care Plants for Aging Parents

 “Once we become interested in the progress of the plants in our care,
their development becomes a part of the rhythm of our own lives
and we are refreshed by it.”
Thalassa Cruso (1909-1997),
Public TV’s “Julia Child of the Horticulture” 1966-69.

October. Days shorten. Get colder. Leaves fall. We spend more time indoors, less time with nature.

A perfect, thoughtful gift for older people: an easy-to-care-for plant. Even more perfect if doing so can refresh and lift the spirits of those we care about–those living alone, in assisted living or care facilities, even those with no “green thumb.”

Here’s a short list of plants that take neglect and still perform. Indeed they ask nothing more than regular watering and filtered sun or low light.

3 Flowering Plants

Caring for Your St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Plant - (This popular house plant (oxalis) is very easy to grow and maintain) http://gomestic.com/gardening/caring-for-your-st-patricks-day-shamrock-plant/

1. Oxalis is one of the easiest, most forgiving, fun-to-watch plants. Green (regnellii)  or purple (triangularis) leaves. Leaves open at daylight (watch 33 second video link that shows leaves opening at 23 seconds) and close each night as darkness sets in. Wants light in order to produce flowers, but not full sun. Likes damp (not soggy) soil. When too dry, plant tells you; it looks like it’s collapsing. But it comes right back after watering. Blooms for long periods indoors, with a rest period after blooming.

Spathiphyllum

Spathiphyllum–click to enlarge

 

2. Spathiphyllum is also easy and forgiving. Many varieties, different size plants. Buy the small size. They grow just as well and are more manageable. If plants are getting dry, the leaves begin to sag–that’s the signal to water. If they get too dry the tips turn brown; but the plant survives, and the tips can be trimmed if desired. I’ve found these plants impossible to kill. Low light is fine. they don’t like bright light. Blooms year round.

Video short with instructions, basically tells you how easy this plant is to care for. I didn’t know it’s also an air purifier but, according to the video, it is.

Bromeliad

Bromeliad–click to enlarge

3.  Bromelliad blooms are vibrant, last months, and clearly add color to any room. They do need good light, usually bright indirect light, but require little care, definitely don’t want to be overwatered.

Bromelliads at left were at Home Depot (NYC) not a place to buy fussy, difficult-to-grow plants. Should an older person become attached to this plant, the major problem is that, after blooming for several months, the plant dies. That said, it has already produced “pups” around it, that will bloom about 6 months later–I think. So the plant dies, but leaves its offspring, which elders can enjoy watching grow and finally bloom. 7 Easy-to-grow Bromelliads


“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful:
they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.”
Luther Burbank
American botanist, horticulturalist, pioneer in agricultural science
to be continued next post.

Related: Aging Parents: Easy-care, live-plant gifts: terrariums–flowering-or-not

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