Monday, February 1, 2016

Aging Parents--Aging Well: What do Nuns Have to do With It?

IMG_4915 Nuns Crossing 5th Ave. in NYC Sunday morning after January 2016 Blizzard


Seeing these agile, apparently hardy nuns navigating snow and slush to cross 5th Avenue last Sunday, triggered my long ago thinking about the MacArthur Foundation research and the Nun Study. Although I don't remember an emphasis on "active engagement with life" in the Nun Study, I remember thinking at the time that nuns are part of a community experiencing  social connectedness and are actively engaged; and I wondered if that also helped them age well.

Today the importance of connections with others in helping people age well is well recognized. Nuns don't have children, but they do have a community which supports and connects with them throughout life.

Our parents, on the other hand, have children, but their community--their supports--dwindle as they age, leaving lonely, unhappy elders with adult children who often live many miles away with job and family responsibilities. In addition, many parents don't want to impose on their children "who have their own lives." And few older people want to give up their homes and the independence that they feel, even when they could benefit from the extra help and socialization. (We all know this.) The question remains--What to do?
Six Suggestions

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Are Aging Parents and Elders Prepared for Extreme Weather--Blizzards, Hurricanes, the Unexpected?

Over 60 million people were under blizzard, winter storm or freezing rain warnings this weekend.  How many were elderly?

"We're in the age of extreme weather," NYC Mayor de Blasio declared on TV Sunday, suggesting we need to be ready for future weather events. Since winter storm Jonas has dominated the news this weekend, bringing record and near-record snow to the northeast urban corridor, I'm wondering--

--How many of the 60+million people in its path are old; how many of them live independently; and how many live far from their adult children? The weather and the 11,600+ flights cancelled since Friday, can understandably cause stress for adult children who have elders they care about....perhaps even more concern if elderly parents live far away and are in harm's way. Indeed, I remember the helpless feeling when I was in that situation years ago.
    10 suggestions follow that alleviate--or at least lessen--
concern for elders' safety

1.  Contact them of course
2.  Keep your parents' neighbors' cell phone numbers in a handy place. In the event parents don't live near, neighbors can check on them if necessary.They may need to monitor and let you know if mom decides to go for a walk or shovel snow when she shouldn't.
3.  Be as certain as possible, without being condescending or bossy of course, that aging parents are prepared for this "age of extreme weather." (Personally check or put on your to-do list to check--or take care of--the following ahead of time)


If the Electricity Goes Out--                                                   
4.  Cell phones--at the ready--may be the only way to maintain contact when land lines are down. Make certain elders are comfortable using their fully-charged phones.
5.  Suggest /nicely remind that they keep their phone fully charged in case of power outages. (Elders are usually not as compulsive as younger people about keeping their phones charged.)

          Gift elders with the inexpensive, small, portable charger/external back-up battery pack for their cell phone--making certain they understand how easily the charger's input and output works. (Isn't a reserve power source insurance?)

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Aging Parents: Smartphones' Photos in Senior Healthcare


  

How smartphones help aging parents, the elderly and us
age well
 IMG_4908
NYC 86th St. Subway ad 2016 (above). Close up of text under "The doctor will see you now" (below).
IMG_4907

Upon exiting the subway last week, this ad greeted me. We are to assume, I believe, that unknown medical diagnosticians, presumably MD's, are at the ready to diagnose unknown people's health issues after receiving photos taken by--and emailed from--a mobile device. 

Over three years ago, my dermatologist's assistant asked if I had an iPhone and could take a picture of something on my face, email it and perhaps save an office visit---and time (and money). What an unexpected response to my calling to make an appointment to have her look at a little spot. It made so much sense. Indeed I had the "nothing-to-worry-about" reply from her office within the hour. How efficient--and reassuring--is that!

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Help Aging Parents: One-of-a-Kind Birthday Party Centerpiece Celebrating a Man...or Woman

IMG_4881Idea for a One-of-a Kind Centerpiece to celebrate elders'--or anyone's--birthdays
 


Today is a family birthday party. Aren't birthdays an uplifting time--at least for the person who isn't dreading getting older? Even then, having the kind of party older people want (Click here or Birthday Posts tab above) softens the reality.

Years ago I learned from Eloise that floral arrangements--in this case centerpieces with living plant material--can be put in anything that can hold water. FYI--Eloise (mentioned in early posts) was a take-charge, smart, out-of-the-box thinker who died in her sleep at age 95. (Her husband predeceased her by 4 years whereupon she immediately put DNR signs everywhere in their home.


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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Helping Terminally Ill, Pet-Loving Aging Parents Have Peace of Mind

As we think about helping parents and elders we care about age well, we know support of friends is priceless. We're also aware of the research showing connections with others help people age well. Neither "friends" nor "others"  is defined as "pets," yet in a quiz show couldn't everyone complete the phrase "a man's best friend is... his dog."

As the old year ends and a new year begins, I focus on the continuum of life, and the fact that helping parents age well continues throughout the life cycle--until the very end.


In an effort to help pet-loving aging parents, who face hospice care and-- on top of everything else--worry about their pets, I'm calling attention to the nonprofit Pet Peace of Mind program.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

UNDERSTANDING AGING PARENTS--ELDERS' TIPS TO COMBAT HOLIDAY LONELINESS

First posted in 2009--with variations each year Sharing with Santa
The words and melody from the radio filled my car. A winter wonderland was outside. Kids, amid shrieks of laughter and merriment, were sledding down the hill at the high school on anything large enough to sit on. I'm certain school vacation is adding to this happiest of times. 

My counseling background kicks in. I know that holidays aren't the happiest of times for many old people. So I decide to phone some elderly friends, simply to say "hello" and ask "how are you?"  

Let me share what I learned-- 

It's the happiest time of the year for children-- who have none of the responsibilities of adulthood. 

It's the happiest time when elders and younger family members can be together--feeling the warmth--sharing, and reminiscing. The excitement of the children and grandchildren provides a background of energy and optimism. 

 And yet-- "The holidays are a time when our mind drifts back to past Christmases that were happy times. It's a sentimental time," recalls one 80-year-old widow. "It's a wonderful time when families can get together, yet a lot of people are completely alone. As people get older, they have experienced losses. Especially for those who've lost their mates, other people's happiness can be a reminder of the losses we've incurred. We're just more vulnerable to that kind of thing when we get older."

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2015

Christmas Welcome

WISHING EVERYONE A 
 VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS from Help! Aging Parents..

...And a reminder of how much a simple phone call means to a lonesome, frail or isolated elderly person today...or any day.
 
IMG_4845