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!
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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

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Aging Parents: Stark Reality–When Eyesight Fails

Letting Go–Preparing The Last Income Tax at 100

This is the last time Sr. Advisor R is doing her income tax preparation for the accountants. Yes, she’s 100. Yes, she still lives independently, alone in her home of over 60 years. Yes, she has a blood clot that has greatly diminished vision in one eye. Yes, she uses not 1, but 2 magnifying glasses when the normal print is too small. And yes, all of this is pretty amazing, but it has been extremely arduous and overly time-consuming this winter and has been a source of stress.

That said, R has worked at simplifying everything in her life as age has slowed her down. Giving up income tax preparation  (still using legal pad and adding machine), is a big concession. She has been doing it over 40 years. As Julia, another independent elder referred to in past posts, said many years ago “No one likes to see a lessening of themself.”

(R prided herself on doing the preparatory tax work and has been praised since widowhood for her understanding and accurate attention to detail in this regard. In fact, in the early 1060’s, when most women her age knew little about their husband’s [or their] finances, one accounting firm asked if she would do the intake and explain the process to widows.)

Although there’s some peripheral vision, I’m quite certain R’s left eye (with the clot) would qualify as legally blind. She was just told it cannot improve. That’s a big blow.  Especially to R, who always does exactly as the doctor orders. Aging, however, takes its toll on the body and stuff happens–sooner or later–as we know.

So where’s the sunshine on this cloudy day? It could be that in spite of macular degeneration, R’s right eye has fairly good vision; yet the ophthalmologist indicated it could change. Sunshine? R feels there just isn’t any. Yet I believe all mental health professionals would agree–at times like this it helps no one to play the Pollyanna role. Support and a lot of listening is the operative advice for caring friends and family.

We’re talking about loss. It’s hard.  It’s real and no doubt scary; particularly for an independent centenarian with a still-good mind. So unless a friend or family member has recently had the same experience, many sayings like “I know how hard this must be” aren’t helpful. Rather “What can I do for you?” or “I’d like to do something to make it easier this week–can I …………..?” show caring.

We may not do everything perfectly from here on out and consulting with people from Lighthouse will be–or possibly has been–suggested, subject to R’s agreeing. Many cities have Lighthouse branches that, I hear, do a great job making life better for people with compromised vision.

So we say a prayer, try to be there if possible to lend support and love, and will do the best we can as we help R face another hurdle. As R’s mother used to say, “Angels Can Do No More.”

Changing often: “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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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.