Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Ideas for Getting Isolated-Feeling Parents Out of the House

Short Trip Ideas to Help Aging Parents Enjoy a Change of Scenery
Part One: General truisms and short outings
  • If parents can get out to have you drive them to the doctor, they can manage these short trips.
  • A change of scenery adds something to life; we know that. While we take for granted the many changes of scenery in our every-day-life, older people who don't drive and/or lack initiative often complain they "look at the four walls."
  • Feeling "isolated" can make anyone "dumb down," lose interest, feel cranky.
  • Inertia can easily set in--making an effort becomes too much of an effort.
  • Or an invitation may provide a jump start.
  • If an invitation to accompany you doesn't meet with enthusiasm or acceptance, trick them into going. How? Using the "I need your help" plea, have them accompany you on a quick errand, then add one of the suggested short trips. Or attach a short outing after the trip to the doctor's office.
  • Provide something appealing to eat/drink--as simple as an ice cream cone or as elaborate as a meal.
I accidentally learned that next-to-last last truism when I took my--we-thought-almost-dying--mother for her first geriatric appointment at the teaching hospital. She went in like a limp rag. After tests and time with the geriatrician we wheeled her to the car, carefully seat-belted her in the back seat, and began the short ride home. We passed gorgeous rose bushes that mother noticed and quietly commented on. I asked if she had enough energy for me to drive her past some other homes with beautiful flowers and she said "yes, if you make it short." Voila!

Short Summer Outings:

A scenic and relaxing drive. Final destination could be a place to eat. Every city and town has a restaurant (sitting in a restaurant provides entertainment--people watching) and parks. (Check Parks and Recreation Department for picnic tables, other amenities and handicap access if applicable.) Possible sites: overlooking water, gardens, beautiful views. Nature is renewing.

Major botanical gardens, zoos, and museums often have facilities for lunch as well wheel chairs and are handicap accessible. Tailor length of visits to parents' needs (which obviously don't include waiting in long lines), so it makes sense to avoid the busy times.

Stimulation helps parents age well. Pulling an unmotivated parent out of a funk is a good feeling. We need to remember people change, not much. An unmotivated, cranky young person will no doubt be an unmotivated cranky old person. We cannot perform miracles--alas! But when parents feel better, don't we feel better.

Please go to my new site http://helpparentsagewell.com. You will be able to view the photo that's included in this post.

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