Saturday, April 3, 2010

Aging Parents: Ideas/Thoughts for Passover and Easter... Keep Older Parents Engaged and Help Them Age Well
This is a time when we celebrate miracles. The emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, when the Red Sea parted. The Resurrection of Christ after the Crucifixion. Older generations fondly recall Seders, when family members gathered together and children looked for the hidden matzo; or Easter services, and the children's Easter egg hunt, and the family brunch or dinner.

As with all major holidays there is joy for so many; but for those who are old and feel isolated and lonely there are no miracles.

Since Easter is here, not surprisingly my senior advisers tell me that Easter can be very lonely for older people living alone, without children to visit or take them out. On the other hand, suggestions for doing things that will bring pleasure are many.

The more obvious: taking aging parents out for brunch after church or for dinner later. This suggestion is embellished with:
... the suggestion of eating at a place with a lovely view or beautiful gardens to make the outing more special.
...a restaurant where aging parents who don't get out much can take a short walk (use a wheel chair or walker if necessary) so they can enjoy looking in shop windows, see normal activity.
...anything that includes grandchildren.

When the Easter meal is at a family member's home and older parents want to bring a special dish, by all means accept the offer. It feels good to participate.

Then there are older people who are alone and find it difficult to go out. A visit is welcome with or without a little gift. However, below are some gift suggestions:
...bring a little lunch or snack ("nothing big," I'm told) to share while you talk sensitive to sugar and/or salt restrictions
...bring a living plant that isn't fussy. Check at a nursery or flower shop--suggestions: (philodendron [sweetheart plant], fern [nephrolepis], spathiphyllum [peace lilly--wallisi variety] or kalanchoe).
...bring flowers. They brighten up a room.
bring a blooming plant for those who still like to garden

Although Passover is almost over, one 89-year-old adviser proudly tells me she made: chopped liver, matzo balls, gefilte fish, and horse radish for the Seder. Not easy at 89, but she says 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 and there wasn't enough left."

This final story comes from the West Coast. There were no children to look for the traditional hidden matzo at the Passover Seder this year, so the oldest guests were sent on the hunt. An 86-year-old male guest found the hidden matzo. While not traditional, life today with children and grandchildren living near is not as prevalent as in times past. So it would seem that adaptation, flexibility, inclusion and thoughtful creativity go a long way towards helping parents and others age well, especially during the holidays.

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