Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Aging Parents: It's the Haa, Haa-py-est Time of The Year?

Sharing with Santa

© ElaineLeBerg

It's The Haa, Haa--py--est Time of The Year

The words and melody from the radio fill my car as I drive to the post office to mail the holiday cards. We have snow, it looks like a winter wonderland; and kids, amid shrieks of laughter and merriment, are sledding down our shared driveway on anything they can find that's large enough to sit on. Sun is 
shining, snow balls are flying, and I'm certain school vacation is adding to this happiest of times.

And then my counseling background kicks in and I remember that holidays aren't always the happiest of times for people. So I decide to check in with a few older people and see how they're doing. As a counselor, I'm trained to ask objective questions--not leading questions that will give me the answer I want (or think I want). That said, let me share my findings.

To view entire post please go to my other site:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Aging Parents: Sooo Much to Do, Too Little Time-Holiday Organization

Wrapping Christmas Gifts

Juggling everything on a normal day, with over-busy, over-programmed schedules, is hard enough at this time of year--whether we're children of aging parents, caregivers or Sandwich Generation. Do we feel like we have ADD?

DISORGANIZATION, FRAZZLED NERVES--worsened by the unexpected glitch. And can't we count on that! There's an old saying "I'm dancing as fast as I can." Taking that a step further: when we try to dance faster than we can, don't we wear out or lose our balance? So how do we stay balanced?
9 Strategies that work 

To view entire post please visit my other site:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Aging Parents and Us: Must Age, Health Decline, and Dependency go Hand in Hand?

 Growing Older Doesn't Necessarily Mean Growing Old

We may question this assumption if we're in the midst of caring for aging parents with health issues. On the other hand, the results of research, published last month in the Journals of Gerontology, may be heartening for us if our parents are still relatively healthy and independent--and also heartening as we think about our years ahead.

To view the rest of this post please go to my other site.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Help Aging Parents--Financial Stuff (often laborious for me--and possibly you) Thoroughly and Easily Explained

Understanding Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans Can Help Parents Age Well

                                                Open enrollment ends Dec. 7

I was perusing the November 22 online Huff Post 50 topics, when "25 Things You Absolutely Positively Must Do Before You Die" captured my attention. But that was only momentary. Since I didn't plan to die right away, another article won out: "7 Tips to Help You Pick The Best Medicare Advantage Plan,".

This informative, clearly explained article, written by journalist, Bob Rosenblatt, is also on his blog, Help With Aging, where he writes: "I developed the Los Angeles Times’ first beat on aging, and wrote a column for the Times’ health section on these issues...

To view entire post, please visit my other site.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Thanksgivng 2013

I think everyone would agree: having a sense of purpose is essential to feeling good about life. The big question: How do we instill a sense of purpose in aging parents who no longer have it?

Do remember, those who never had it will no doubt never get it--
People Change, Not Much.

To view entire post, please visit my other site

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Traditional, Remarried and Blended Families: Navigating the Holidays to Help Parents and Elders Age Well

To Grandmother's House Pack the car and the kids--To Grandmother's House We Go--perhaps. But what if there are 3 or 4 or more living grandmothers with husbands? What about siblings and siblings-in-law?

To view the rest of this post, please visit my other site.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Help Aging Parents--Who Don't Eat Properly: A Centenarian's Advice

Thanksgiving Leftovers Go Home
Thanksgiving Leftovers Go Home

With Thanksgiving/Chanukah just a over a week away, I'm thinking about our dinner, older family members, their eating habits, and what special contributions I can make.

At age 97 and 98 Sr. Advisor, R, previously shared thoughts and advice on my posts about nutritious food older people like, can prepare easily and quickly, and where and how she buys it. (Links below)

Now--at age 100--she shares her philosophy as it relates to life and food, and reiterates her quick, easy, no-mess, healthy food preparation that has helped her age well.

To view entire post, please go to my other site

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Nontraditional Thanksgiving Day for Aging Parents This Year?

                                                         THE DATE?           

Please visit my other site to read entire post.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


                           Gifts We Can Be Certain Elders Want

MEMORY TEST: Have your aging parents or grandparents--or great-uncles or aunts-- ever mentioned, off-handedly or in conjunction with other thoughts, something they need, want or would love to have? And you file it in your memory as a gift idea for later on?

I've flunked that. Perhaps I'm not alone. Sunday I was reading posts in my archives and unearthed something I'd forgotten.

    to view entire post, please visit my other site

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Aging Parents. Adult Children: 5 Key Thoughts

                                Do Parents Need Nurturing?

Jane Brody's September 16, 2013 column, "When Parents Need Nurturing," is a short read. Many topics she touches on are amplified in past Help! Aging Parents posts. For example,  she mentions parental demands, feelings of obligation, sharing of responsibilities with or without sibling help, and the emotional component. And includes suggestions.

If we weren't proactive in the sensible ways Ms. Brody has suggested; if our relationship with our parents causes us undue stress, and we feel like we can't go on because we're "living and giving beyond our limits,"..............

please visit my other site to view entire post

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


 Holidays provide opportunities we can take advantage of-- to jump-start aging parents and add some joy to their lives.

 .....I remember my parents coming back to visit in late October one year. They were in their ’70′s. Halloween night stands out, with the excitement that each ring of the doorbell created for these active seniors. With that in mind, I share ideas for involving aging parents in the Halloween fun.

 Invite aging parents to your home to marvel at the trick-or-treaters’ costumes.

Dad loved answering the door bell’s ring–then seeing the little kids in costume. Their high pitched’ “trick or treat” elicited his compliments about their scary look, great costume etc. They beamed at the compliments as they took their candy. Dad beamed back.  Mother, in the background, seemed happy to replenish the candy supply. She too had a big smile on her face as she watched these excited little kids having such a good time.

To view entire post and enjoy the Halloween photos, please visit my other site

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Aging and Teeth (Broken Crown)–2: Important Factors in Treating Old/Older People + New Technology

Sr. Advisor R had a problem. The crown on her tooth broke. She didn’t want to sit in a dental chair and experience an “ordeal,” as she put it, which I’m sure it is for a woman who’s 100. While R makes every effort to take good care of herself, deciding about options (extract tooth, make new crown using new technology, or using traditional technology) was causing stress.

I discussed Sr. Advisor R with my dentist, Gary Markovits, DDS. He’s highly experienced, skilled, comes from a dental family, and is sensitive to old people’s needs (his wife’s parents are in their 80′s). I wanted to know if old/older patients need special consideration.

“For our senior patient population,” he says “it’s important to--

To view entire post please visit my other site

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Much time, thought, and energy--under the best of circumstances--go into planning end-of-life directives. In the olden days this no doubt consisted primarily of a will. Today, in our more complex society, additional important aspects of estate planning impact not only who is beneficiary of our worldly goods after death, but--on earth-- our very life itself.

We never know when something serious could happen that sends us to the hospital; and I doubt any of us keep advance directives in our purses, wallets, or smartphones. Thus, this New Old Age column (which instructs us to give copies to our primary care doctor, "health care decision-makers" and keep copies for ourselves) is worth the quick read. 

                          To read entire post, please visit my other site.

Monday, October 21, 2013


.............My elderly friend loved them and remembered they would last, no doubt until Halloween. Her caregiver kept telling me how much he loved helping and spent a while taking pictures with his cell phone. Bottom line: It's always rewarding to do something that makes an older person happy. This was a win, win, win-- for my elderly friend, her caregiver, and me.

To view entire post, please visit my other site.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


....a leafy houseplant

While giving aging parents and older people an easy-care house plant isn't Horticulture Therapy, precisely as it would be offered in a care facility, some of the same benefits apply....

To view entire post, please visit my other site

Thursday, October 10, 2013


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

Isn’t it a perfect time to give an easy-to-care-for plant to an older person? Even more perfect if doing so helps raise 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 can take neglect and still perform. Indeed they ask nothing more than regular watering and filtered sun or low light. To begin--flowering house plants.

to view entire post, please visit my other site

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Not all shoe styles with Velcro are suitable for old people. Yet some styles fulfill a need. Think: one foot wider than the other; arthritic or old fingers that make tying laces and manipulating buckles difficult.

As people age, feet can widen and/or develop bunions, hammer toes or other problems that cause one foot to fit better in another size--or width--shoe. This is where Velcro comes to the rescue.

To view entire post, please go to my other site

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Sr. Advisor R, during the week between her 100th birthday and her party the next weekend, couldn't help giving me more advice when she proclaimed: "VELCRO" in much the same way as I remember "PLASTICS" in the 1960's classic movie, "The Graduate."

I didn't realize the implications Velcro has for looking good and feeling better, but R made me aware.

To view entire post, please visit my other site

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


We learn from people's--and our--mistakes.  It's especially important to be up on the learning curve, and avoid mistakes, if we're in a hospital. A sobering chain of events calls attention to:

1. a slogan
2. advice, gained from Dr.Susan Love's (surgeon and prominent breast cancer prevention advocate) hospital experience, about the importance of family.
3. information from Jon La Pook, MD (NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia U. Medical Center and Chief Medical Correspondent for CBS News) about how to get optimal hospital care.

To view entire post please visit my other site

Thursday, September 26, 2013


On July 8th I wrote about a new game, Road Tour, that researchers find restores cognitive processing speed and improves field of vision. Peripheral vision evidently shrinks as people age and affects safe driving. Here are details, plus a video, from the UK's Daily Mail on-line:

Three months later (9/4/13) several publications inform us that the scientific magazine, Nature, is publishing findings that cognitive scientists say: "are a significant development in understanding how to strengthen old brains." (NY Times 9/4/13) plus a snippet: "Cognitive scientists have found that a simple game that forced players to juggle two different tasks, helped players improve the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults. Researchers said those as old as  80 began to show neurological patterns of people in their 20s." (NY Times 9/9/13.)

To view entire post please visit my other site.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Aging and Teeth

 Dad valued his teeth; took good care of them. You can imagine my surprise decades later when Dad's tooth broke while he was sitting in his favorite chair watching TV. No theatrics--it just broke. He was in his 90's, wasn't eating anything at the time. The tooth just--unexpectedly--"broke off."

This event replayed itself recently. It happened to another old person. She also took good care of her teeth, was a conscientious dentist-goer and had all her own teeth in her 90's.

Please visit my other site to view entire post.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aging Parents: Feeling Alone in a Crowded Room--plus 2 Addition Reasons They May Not Want to Go Out Any More

 It may all boil down to pride; staying home is safe.

No one likes to feel diminished, whether it's unintentional or not. Yet going someplace where interaction with others is the norm can pose a threat to older people's pride and self-esteem when they have certain aging issues. I think it's safe to say many--if not all-- older people begin to recognize what octogenarian Julia calls "a lessening of oneself," adding "it's not pleasant."

When others no longer pay attention to them and/or or older people don't want others to discover their "lessening," thoughts of being with others away from home can be emotionally troubling. Three issues (you may think of more) that can cause this:

To view entire post, please visit my other site

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Making It Better for Parents in Assisted Living

Is "assisted living" a euphemism for warehousing aging parents in an attractive place where we think they'll be well taken care of? The PBS documentary "Life and Death in Assisted Living" is, I certainly hope, not the norm. But what is the norm (and it's not the fault or responsibility of the administrators of the assisted living facility) may be the often inattentiveness on the part of adult children once their parents are in assisted living.

                To view entire post please go to my other site.

Monday, August 26, 2013

5 Tips No One Tells You About Aging

If we're immersed in health issues with aging parents, the tips could seem frivolous. Nevertheless, these tips about eyelashes and brows, foot changes, finger nails and vitamin E........give us a "heads up" for what's ahead and offer some practical help so aging women continue to age well.

Please go to my other site to read complete post.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Promise Makers

Can we keep the promises we make to our parents?

To view entire post, please go to my other site

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aging Parents Needing Extra Care--Who Helps Best? Us? Others? What We Need to Keep in Mind

8 Instructive things to keep in mind when considering assisted living, home health care, and family caregiving..... read entire post please go to my other site

Monday, August 19, 2013

Aging Parents and Far-Away-Living (or Not) Children. Thoughts About Home Health Care (or Not)

The dilemma when health issues increase
Most caring children--far-away-living or not-- have undoubtedly thought about the time when living alone will become problematical for their parents....

To view entire post, please link to my other site

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Medical Emergencies, Emergency Rooms, Hospitals: Getting Optimal Care

CBS News presented a segment about the “Best Hospitals” issue. It’s the video’s specific information, imparted by Dr. Jon Pook in the interview, that I found most instructive. Dr. Pook is a doctor at at NY-Presbyterian/Columbia U. Medical Center and chief medical correspondent for CBS news.

He discusses measures to insure getting optimal hospital care. For example, he stresses the importance of communication needing to be “a good hand-off” between the patient’s regular doctor and the hospital’s doctor or the hospitalist, comparing it to the passing of the baton in a relay. He calls attention to basic, but critical, things........

To  view the rest of this post please go to my other site

Friday, August 9, 2013

Best Hospitals 2013-14: U.S. News & World Report

The US News & World Report “Best Hospitals” issue is always an excellent resource. I’ve copied from the website and added links and my text, with the goal of helping parents age well.

For example, click this link to research a particular medical specialty and find the best hospitals with that specialty. For example, Mt. Sinai, which had the #1 Geriatrics rating in 2010 and 2011, was #2 in 2012, and is #4 for 2013-14. The top 10 Geriatrics Departments:

To view entire post please go to my other site

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Older Traveler, Limited Mobility, Abroad Aboard a Barge at 79--What We Learn

A gray-haired woman, bent over her walker, was moving somewhat awkwardly towards our group and the private bus that was taking us to the Gare de Lyon in Paris. We would then board the TJV for a barge trip in Burgundy.  Although 99-year-old, Sr. Advisor R has said "DON'T ASSUME" countless times, I did assume this woman wasn't traveling on our barge. WRONG!

Initially I didn't know her age, nor that she was accompanied by a sister--11 years younger. While I do know that affect influences our first impression of people and while I've been trained, as a counselor, to be objective and nonjudgmental, barge travel isn't luxury liner travel. It involves a degree of mobility--at minimum navigating steps to get to the bedrooms and bathrooms below deck, and often walking ladder-like steps with railings and a gangplank to get from the barge to often  unmanicured terrain--all this before reaching the point of interest.

In  six days I watched a 79-year-old......

To view entire post, please go to my other site.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Aging--Celebrating Elders' Birthdays: A Once-A-Year Chance

My mother didn’t want a birthday celebration; in fact it just occurred to me: I can’t ever remember there being a birthday party for her. I think she didn’t want a “fuss.” I wonder if she didn’t want to discuss her age. (She looked younger than she was–died 2 weeks before her 89th birthday.) In any event, we all complied. Being a far-away-living child, I made a card, sent a gift, phoned–we were all happy with that and I never regretted it.

Dad, on the other hand, enjoyed celebrating so we chose destination birthday celebrations......

Being mindful of the 9 points listed in the last post would, I trust, have averted the surprise party and denture disaster. And isn't a surprise guest an excellent alternative for those who would hate a surprise party?

As we continue our commitment to help parents age well, birthdays give us many options--only limited by our good sense--for adding stimulation and joy to our elders' lives.

To view entire post, please go to my other site.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Celebrating Elders Birthdays: What They Want, Not What We Want

If we’re fortunate enough to have very old parents and grandparents who are still relatively healthy, chances are we become very involved planning their birthday celebrations.

Sr. Advisor R will be 100 in  September. We are planning her party, again in her home town. There have been various kinds of parties for her over the years–taking into consideration health issues and energy. Indeed many variables that we might not think about become important for elders’ celebrations.


1.  Comfort level
—-Do they like large (20+) or smaller gatherings?
—-Do they have the energy for the large or the smaller or neither?
—-Do they mind or like surprise parties?
2.  Practical considerations
—-Do they wear dentures?
—-Can they travel?
—-How large is the party budget?
—-Are invites telephoned, emailed, or snail-mailed?
—-Gifts or not?
—-What about family members who don’t get along?

Other Factors    Please go to my other site to view the rest of this post

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Difficult Discussion Strategies--2 (using memory loss as an example)

Ninety-two-year-old Edie, an actual person in my unpublished book advised, “Don’t dramatize small failures,” after explaining:  “People have weaknesses, but they also have strengths so don’t zero in on the weakness—like forgetfulness—it’s only one piece.  When it happens in younger people, they say they’re only ‘senior moments.’  They don’t make a big deal about it."

A senior moment?  A potential time bomb?  Initially we may wonder how to distinguish between the two? Then we wonder how to bring up the subject.

To view the rest of this post, please go to my other site.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Aging Parents: Successful Strategies for Difficult Discussions

                                Difficult Discussions: 9 Tips for Success

Difficult discussions were a normal part of  my counseling work: teacher-student dialogs to settle misunderstandings, parent-teacher conversations to clarify accusations or actions, constructive conversations with teenagers who made bad choices, parents who were angry at the school, their kids--you name it.

Early on I learned through experience (and I guess some techniques I learned at TC) how to prepare for uncomfortable discussions, achieve my goals, and maintain a good relationship. I also learned from a favorite professor, that when dealing with family, you'll probably forget what you learned and act on your instincts. No! Don't stop here.

To view entire post please go to my other site

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Do Fears for Aging Parents' Well-Being Unnecessarily Curtail Their Independence?

Of course the answer is "yes" and "no." But looking at a few examples can give up a "heads-up" so we aren't premature in our actions.

To view entire post, please go to my other site

Monday, July 15, 2013

Aging Parents: Will This Video Game Help Aging Parents Drive Safer Longer?

We're reading more about research studies leading to "games" involving "Brain Training." We see and hear the advertisements for ways to improve memory, alertness etc.....
One of the latest games to come out of the research is a video game, Road Tour. I can't recommend--or not recommend--it; but it's an interesting addition to games for older people. Its focus is worth knowing about. It involves vision, specifically expanding one's field of vision, which evidently tends to shrink as we age. The positive outcome of this game is that it could keep older people driving longer.

Please go to my other site to read entire post.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Aging Parents and Travel: Advice from a 99-year-old Who Plans One More Trip

TRAVEL: Any vacation that requires little more than a short car ride to a familiar place involves more organization, thought and energy than it did pre-911 in the US. Understandably this can be daunting to old and older travelers when airport navigation and unfamiliar territory are involved, not to mention stress for anyone accompanying an older individual.

Sr. Advisor R, who--at age 98-- flew alone cross-country to visit us last year, just said she had one more trip in her (she will be 100 in September); so I asked if she'd share her thoughts about travel and how she does it.

To begin we need to keep in mind:

1. "Energy level changes. My renewed energy doesn't renew as it used to...maybe because I don't sleep as well. You have to think about everything--it isn't that one doesn't want to travel but you're not as confident when you're old. That's what age is. For old people it's not the world we knew....we don't know what to depend on."

Please go to my other site to view entire post.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Can Well-Meaning Children HInder Older Parents' Aging Well?

With 6 Important Questions to Ask Ourselves at End of This Post

                                       It Takes A Village
   (The following, taken from my manuscript, is copyrighted, nonfiction except for the names, and may not be reproduced without permission)

A social worker who worked with older adults in New York, reminds us “It takes a village to raise a child,” then points out that at the other end of the life cycle “It takes a village to keep the grandparent in the village.”  Meet Bob.  For him the village provided both care management and relationships.

Bob had no family to watch out for him, yet he continued to live in the small suburban New York studio apartment he and his wife, Ruth, had shared until the day of his death at age 84.

He was 72 and retired on a small pension when Ruth died.  He had the beginnings of macular degeneration, was an unrepentant smoker, and had only a few friends.  But they supported him in his time of need by inviting him to dinner, giving him the key to their home so he could play their piano, and having him help them by walking their dogs when they were at work.  In all, five unrelated people, decades younger than Bob, looked out for him.

In the twelve years following Ruth’s death, Bob’s macular degeneration worsened; at 80 he quit driving.  One dog owner wrote his checks, which he signed, so his bills got paid.  Another friend took him marketing until walking became a problem, whereupon she did his grocery shopping.  Two years before his death he could walk only a short distance before wheezing, coughing, and labored breathing made walking difficult. Going to the doctor became difficult. At a certain point he refused to go for anything other than a flu shot.

Responding to a suggestion of assisted living, Bob let it be known that he had no intention of going into one of “those” places, where he’d have half the space and wouldn’t be allowed to smoke.  He didn’t need good vision to navigate his small apartment—or to light his cigarette for that matter.  His home was his anchor, his safe haven.

When his unopened mail overflowed the table, and food began to mold in the refrigerator, and the apartment became a mess, another of Bob’s younger friends called the town’s social services for the aged.  Bob was interviewed and charmed the social worker with his fine mind and love of music and poetry.

The result: Disaster Masters came to clean up—and out—Bob’s apartment, with Bob sitting there directing what stayed and what went.  Meals on Wheels began bringing food. A home-aide came for an hour, three mornings a week at 8am, to do laundry and straighten up before going to her other jobs.  The social worker arranged for three volunteers to come weekly for socializing. One, a woman, loved poetry and read poems to Bob every Thursday.

With the necessities taken care of and additional daily monitoring by two neighbors on his floor, Bob was able to remain in his apartment until the morning he died peacefully in his bed at age 84.

Bob had no family members to care for him.  He liked living alone.  Contrast his experience with that of Ellie’s grandmother, in Eastern Canada, who was surrounded by well-meaning family members.

A Flower Pulled up by the Roots

     “My grandmother was a farmer in the early days. Later she and my grandfather lived in a home with a big piece of property where Grandma raised flowers and vegetables.  She had such pride in her garden and was in it every day she could be.  When Grandfather died, her children wanted her to move to a smaller place and not have the burden of a large home and grounds and they talked to her about it—again and again and again.

     "In time, Grandma said she would move.  I felt this was the wrong thing for her to do, since the garden meant so much to her, and with 28 relatives, I was going to organize it so she’d have someone visiting each day, could keep her independence, and could be monitored.

     "Finally, one day she said: ‘Put the house up for sale.’  She then moved in with my mother—and died a year later.”

According to the wise octogenarian (quoted previously in the manuscript), we also need to realize that “As you age, you lose the energy to fight... and give in.”  This may be the reason Ellie's’s widowed grandmother finally agreed to move in with one of her children.

While the “village” enabled Bob to live out life on his terms without family involvement, the loving adult children and grandchildren who surrounded Ellie’s grandmother exerted influence that produced a different outcome.

With usually only one chance to do it right, asking ourselves the following questions can serve as guidelines for better decision-making:
  • When making decisions or promises, what is the priority: our needs or our parents’ needs?
  • Are our decisions aimed at maintaining parents’ independence until it’s no longer safe for them to remain as they are?
  • Are we mindful of not prematurely undermining any of the essential ingredients for aging well--self-esteem, independence, socialization, having fun (activities)?
  • Do we have all the information we need to make—or help our parents to make—the best informed decisions?
  • Is it possible that old emotions from our growing-up days creep into and influence our decision-making?
  • If unresolved relationship issues remain, does it make sense to seek the counsel of others when making important decisions?
     The above is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.
                                    *         *        *

While most of us are no doubt excellent caregivers or reliable mainstays for our aging parents, there can be siblings as well as other family members who think they know what's best. It's not only frustrating, but can lead to outcomes that are worse for parents than if they had no children. Since we usually have only one chance to do it right, the guidelines for decision-making will hopefully come in handy as we invest ourselves in helping parents age well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thinning Hair: More Solutions to Hide Scalp–for Aging Parents (and Us)

                   Looking good=feeling better... and has to help parents age well

Realizing there's no proven and approved, relatively simple way to regrow hair, the search goes on. If FDA-approved Latisse (it thickens eyelashes), can be made to do the same for the hair on our head, there will be a predictable stampede to the drug stores. As of now, however, we continue to wait and search for a miracle product.

As Help! Aging Parents continues its mission to help aging parents (and us) feel good about our hair: today's topic: topical products: Rogaine, MoniMay, and Toppik.

To view entire post please go to my other site.

Attention Busy Women Caregivers (Is that an oxymoron?) re: "Just a little Heart Attack"

Many caregivers are in the Sandwich Generation. These statistics seems not generally known:
Women age 45 and older are less likely than men of that age group − 74% vs. 81% − to survive a year after their first heart attack. In women, heart disease is too often a silent killer – nearly two-thirds of women who died suddenly had no previous symptoms.

To view the rest of this post and link to the entertaining video on this timely and serious subject, visit my other site.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Older Women's Thinning Hair, Instructive Links, and Styles for Women 60+

Ever feel like you're wearing 2 hats? One gaining information for yourself and one gaining information to help parents age well? From boomers to aging parents (mothers) the information in these first 3 links will be useful. Professionals explain probably all there is for a layperson to know about hair.

Please visit my other site to view entire post

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Older Women’s Hair Styles: Gray, Thinning~ Up Close and Personal with 6 Instructive Tips

In some ways we want to be like our mothers. In other ways we learn what not to do.  Early on I resolved not to be a slave to my hair or a hairdresser. 

In a previous post I mentioned fussing with hair seemed to be in women’s DNA, beginning as preteens. After college I stopped adding a beer rinse for extra volume; stopped doing my own hair. As a working educator with a paycheck, I had my hair done once a week (just like my mother did). 

However, once living in NY for graduate school and subsequent counseling positions, I found regular hair appointments disruptive and the upkeep too time-consuming. (And every time I went west to visit my parents, mother was still fussing with her hair before going out....

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Help Aging Parents: Ceasing Parkinson Disease and Essential Tremor--Success at UCLA

Our Uncle Lou may have been one of the longest Parkinson’s survivors. He was a talented Hollywood writer whose creative genes worked overtime. A true genius, he was witty, always with a new idea, and a great way of presenting things–until the end of his life at age 78. He lived with Parkinson’s for 27 years, always looking for and hoping for some kind of relief, if not complete cure.

We know–too many of us first-hand–what happens as the disease progresses. We cling to hope that advances are made. So I share the information below, with hopes that UCLA’s procedure will make it possible to bring this much needed advance to millions.

Join Dr. Pouratian for a live-streaming webinar on June 11th to learn about the latest advances in Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease and Tremors. Register for the webinar at my other site.

To view this post in its entirety, please go to my other site.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013: A Reminder of Aging Parents and Their Sacrifices-- Past and Present-- And My Uncle Max

On Memorial Day I think about my Uncle Max. He was a WWII Veteran. He was with the Signal Corps in the Battle of the Bulge and what I know about his service during the war was a result of fuzzy memories when I was young and family conversations when I was older.

Uncle Max was a mild-mannered, sweet man, would give the "shirt off his back" to anyone. It was hard for me to envision him fighting. I don't think one fights in the Signal Corps unless necessary, but I do think one has to be very brave. If he was very brave it wasn't apparent when he finally came back home.

I say "finally came back home" because Uncle Max came home a first time. I was very young and asleep, but I remember someone woke me up and carried me downstairs to see him when he came into the house that night. I remember there was a flurry of activity and a lot of conversation earlier that day, preceding his coming home; but I was too young to know why. I only knew something big was happening.

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Motivating Our Aging Parents

Many years ago at Teachers College, I had one of those outstanding professors, the ones we never forget. For a semester, as aspiring counselors, we studied the techniques of counseling with him.......

We entered Dr. Pat's classroom the last week of the term. A short list of counseling "Don'ts" was on the board (see above). He thus provided us a practical list and discussed the importance of each "don't." I remember these "don'ts" as if it were yesterday. There was another listed--"don't use guilt." Remembering what not to do became normal in my counseling....and ultimately in my every day conversations with others.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Aging Parents Making the Effort? Where There's a Will, There's a Way

         Why do some aging parents make the effort, while others don't?

We see older people with the will. They no doubt aren't as famous as James Levine. Yet they have that something within that pushes them forward and won't let them quit. Sr. Advisor R is one.

I think back to Sr. Advisor R's rehab after breaking her 97-year-old hip (femur) and her observations of the daily small group physical therapy sessions she participated in. She was the oldest there, yet she observed some younger people found the physical therapy very difficult and didn't even try. (We were told, she tried encouraging them.)

That said, why do some do, while others don't make the effort? Does it go back to People Change, Not Much? If they didn't make the effort when they were younger, can they can't be expected to change when they're older?

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Short Haircuts for Women Over 60

                                    Look good, feel better...

...has been one of the consistent themes to help parents age well. Isn't it uplifting to look in the mirror and like what we see? We all know that a bad hair day--or just plain bad hair--makes no one look good or feel very good, so naturally this article grabbed my attention.

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Why an iPad for Aging Parents Who Can Go to an Apple Store?

I pay extra not to take ads on my blog. But the help one gets at the Apple store reminds me that having a smart parent go computer-less when the iPad could change the game, so to speak, is leaving a large segment of the population computer-illiterate. While other tablets have similar capabilities, the iPad gets my top billing today because of the service and resulting peace of mind--especially for older people.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seniors' Insecurities--What We Should Know to Help Parents Age Well--continued

Are we aware of our parents' insecurities or do they cleverly hide them? 
Why do they do this?
Because of: pride, our youth-oriented culture, denial, valuing independence

What are the insecurities?
Concern about meeting responsibilities, looking old,
acting old, forgetting, having an accident, losing mobility, losing sight, losing control and probably most of all, fear that their children will make them move.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Aging Parents--Seniors' Insecurities We Should Know About

Regardless of feelings and specific age, even boomers (and of course old people) develop insecurities they neither had nor thought about while younger. At a certain age many make efforts to cover up insecurities so as not to seem "old."

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Help Aging Parents: Smartphones for Seniors

Is now is the time to expand older parents' capabilities a bit and provide then with more fun and opportunities by gifting them with a simple-lish smartphone? That said, my caution holds--give this gift only if you think they'd be agreeable. That could involve a trial run. For example, going to lunch with them and including a stop at the ATT,  Apple or whatever store to check out the smartphones below (without making a commitment) makes sense.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Aging Parents: Mother’s Day 2013-Gifts To Use Up–thoughtful/delicious/exciting/pampering/practical 2013

"I don' want anything that takes up space or I have to dust.
I just want my children to be together and get along."
74-year-old grandmother

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

19 Free Services for Seniors and Caregivers to Help Parents Age Well

There’s an old saying: “you get what you pay for.” This old adage may be impossible to “buy into” in these economic times. Many are out of work or underemployed. Others are living on fixed incomes that provide interest rates barely above 0%. So it may pay to know about the free programs available.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wise Words: 9 Pearls of Wisdom From our 99-year-old Sr. Advisor

                                    R’s 9 Original Sayings:
                               Words of Wisdom About Life

Original sayings must be in Sr. Advisor R’s DNA. One of her mother’s sayings, “Do the best you can, angels can do no more,” has appeared in previous posts. Wisdom…based on many year’s of living. R’s mother died in her early 90′s. R will be 100 in September. 

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Help Aging Parents: Avoiding the Accidental "Bad Things"

"EACH YEAR, half-a-million injuries occur in the United States because of medication errors," according to a 2009 U Magazine (UCLA health) article.

We live in an imperfect world. The older we get the more we're aware. With a better understanding of "best practices" are we better equipped to help hospitalized aging parents avoid accidental bad things because we know what to look for and thus, know what questions to ask? How can we know and ask pertinent questions if we're clueless about it in the first place?

The following excerpted information from U Magazine's 2009 article, "Do No Harm," illuminates measures the UCLA hospital system began implementing to reduce the potential for accidental "bad things" (my words for the overarching concept). Having this knowledge helps us know what to look for. Hopefully our hospitals have implemented some of these measures so we and our aging parents can take advantage--now 4 years later.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Help Aging Parents, Grandparents, And Loved-Ones: Can Care-giving Family Members Do It All?

The New Old Age column from a 10/16/12 NY Times recently surfaced. Its subject: family caregivers and the fact that they do many nursing tasks formerly assigned to professionals.

Speaking of “nursing tasks,” the Visiting Nurse Service of New York ran some–I think–wonderful full-page ads. For example, a photo of a nice-looking, elderly gentleman with kind eyes and white hair. The ad reads:

He’s 95, Takes 10 medications, Needs help bathing, walking and dressing,
And feels deeply grateful.

He’s “grateful to the physician who helped him get all the care he needs to stay out of a nursing home, with Medicaid Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) from VNSNY.” This is followed by text enumerating the Medicaid-covered home care and long-term care services, basically nurse care management and home health aide services.

Back to the New Old Age column. It enumerates the tasks family members now do (eg. give injections, manage feeding tubes, manage complicated medications), with “little training and no backup.”

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Memory Gains (not Losses) in New Study--average age 84: Help for Aging Parents, Grandparents and Eventually Us

Heartening research: News comes from a small study--indeed one of the first--to assess the effects a computerized-memory training program has on memory. Published in UCLA's Summer 2013 U Magazine, courtesy UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine.....

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

4 Lessons Learned to Help Older Parents and Grandparents Age Well

Getting Out of the Dumps: 
               Don’t Assume, The Incentive, “Normal” Depression, The Results

1. Remembering one of R’s wise sayings “Don’t assume” is something we need to keep in mind. We would have turned down James’s invitation if we had assumed R–at 99 1/2– wouldn’t go to a large gathering, especially when it followed another night out.  (R avoided large gatherings “like the plague”–beginning several years ago– because, she said, they took too much of her energy.)

2.  Our efforts to “jump-start” old people are great and should continue; but their feeling of gaining, not losing, ground has an even greater psychological “jump-start-effect on old people. (See observation below.)

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Passover March 25-April 2 2013 and Easter March 31: More Opportunities to Help Parents Age Well

Another holiday (actually 2 holidays). Another opportunity in our efforts to help older parents and grandparents age well.

Passover begins at sundown on March 25 and lasts until nightfall on April 2.  Since Easter always occurs during Passover, the Judeo-Christian parts of the world celebrate miracles during the same time period every spring.

Many believe that the The Last Supper was a Passover Sedar. I’d never questioned it but was wondering “which night of Passover was The Last Supper” so I google that phrase.  First google offering: “Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Sedar?”.........

These holidays celebrate miracles. Granted we can’t make miracles, yet sometimes it can feel like a miracle when we can add enrichment in a special way…a way that gives aging parents and elders a lift and perhaps a lasting memory. Happy Passover * Happy Easter

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Help Parents Age Well and in Place: Old Bathrooms. Old Parents. New Shower Fittings for a 97-year-old Woman

Having a small bathroom and small shower made this "update" simple, but "expensive--around $1,000"--according to R. Moving to assisted or independent living would have been quite expensive. Much more money for much less space. Plus, she'd be leaving a home and neighbors that have been--and are--an important part of her life.

As long as R's mind continues to be good, she will call the shots (and enjoy her refurbished shower). To do otherwise would be to undermine all that she has done to remain independent. As we try to help parents age well, we stop and ask ourselves: Is it easier/better for us or easier or better for them?"

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lonesome, Talkative Aging Parents: Phone Calls

          To age well, connections to others are very important.
              We know that, yet we can feel like we’re talked
                           to death; and that’s not good.

PROBLEM: Phoning an aging parent who talks and talks and talks can seem like punishment.

This may not matter as much, when we have nothing better to do with our time. Yet when adult children are frazzled and stressed or they’re just plain tired, there’s help.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pallative Care and Hospice Help Parents Age Well Until the End: What's the Difference?

“Perhaps the most common misconception about palliative care is that it is synonymous with hospice care; in fact, though it plays a prominent role in a dying patient’s life, it is also offered in conjunction with life-prolonging and potentially curative treatments for patients with cancer, heart failure and other chronic and life-threatening conditions.”
UCLA Medical Magazine 2009

                              Aging as well as possible, as long as possible

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Philadelphia Flower Show and Aging Parents

The gigantic clock face, as the hands reached the hour, disappeared and delighted spectators as it was replaced by a showcase of Britain’s most popular musicians–beginning with the Beatles singing  ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.

I see parents pushing children in strollers, and wonder why more adult children can’t/don’t make that same effort for their aging parents and grandparents. Then I see a gentleman, in his mid-80′s he said. I told him of my observation. He responded: “If you wonder why I bring my wife in a wheel chair…Because I love her.”

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Aging Parents: Making Major Decisions-Think: Doctors, Life-saving/changing Surgery

                    How Do We Make the Best Choice?

We make many choices throughout our lives, granted some much more important than others. But how do we know we’re making a really good choice–or the best choice–when major health matters are involved?

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aging Parents: Hospitalization and the Importance of Family

While I've never been an alarmist, I think having the information below is just plain "smart." While one could use the word "proactive," it's not a word I particularly like-- but it's also clearly applicable. Today we're much more informed about our medical treatment, which sometimes involves more explanations from doctors than we can digest. This is a good reason to accompany aging parents to their doctor appointments if they'll agree to it. 4 ears and 2 brains should be better than half that number, especially when people grow old. Let's look at how this relates to supporting hospitalized aging parents~

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Help Aging Parents: Stroke--My Family, Your Family--a refresher

 .....While great progress has been  made in stroke prevention and rehabilitation, and Mother and her brother suffered milder strokes than their mother, they both were stroke victims while being monitored by their doctors and on medication. The bottom line: Click the link above. It’s never too late for a refresher…for myself and everyone–who is at risk, knows someone at risk, or whose goal is to help parents age well.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Best Phones For People With Disabilities--possibly free!

In response to a reader’s request–Do you know anything about senior friendly phones at home (base station and hand held)? My husband is almost blind, and we have no cell phone reception here, it’s a rural area, only our landline– I pass on this information.

While the specific information below is for California Residents, the Low Vision Services Coordinator, Low Vision Clinic, University of California at Berkeley, who I have known for decades, says “most states have similar programs.”

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Pope Benedict XVI (85) and Sr. Advisor R (99) Have in Common

...."The Pope is quitting. I want to quit," she continued. (Obviously she had already read the paper.) She went on saying something like "I understand his not having the energy for all the responsibilities.

"You know I've been feeling this way for some time now. I'm tired. I've done everything. Helped everyone I can help; given all I can give--financially not that much, but every bit counts-- to help people and the charities I know do good right here in town; and I just don't have the energy for the responsibilities any  more."

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Aging Parents: 7 Valentine's Gifts for Patients in Nursing Homes Reblogged With Feb. 9, 2013 updates

Several years ago a friend gave me a printed article with some nursing home gift guidance from (no longer on their current site). I wouldn't have kept it this long if I didn't think it worthwhile. And since Valentine's Day is only days away, I've used the article's gift topics for structure, added many gift suggestions, included photos and all of the specific plant suggestions.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Head Start on Valentine's Day--2: Caring and Connections Sent Snail Mail

When it comes to helping parents age well, my friend Monique is one of the best daughters I know. While its contents can be priceless, turning Monique's Valentine idea into a reality takes as little or as much time as we want to spend. It's handmade (a card or small booklet) with as many pages as we wish. What's inside, is the key.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Help Aging Parents: Getting a Head Start on Valentine's Day

It's always a joy to receive a Valentine, whether young or old...but especially for the old. Having ideas for Valentines--or Valentine gifts-- ahead of time clearly reduces the pressure. Of course, executing the idea eliminates the pressure completely--and can be lots of fun. I'm checking with friends for ideas. Here's idea #1 with thanks to far-away-living daughter, Monique, who's doing this for her mother in France. From the heart. So original.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Aging Grandparents and A Grand Grandson


He sat next to me on the plane today. Was late boarding. Turns out he was standby, had missed 2 earlier flights--needed to get back to the east coast after coming briefly and unexpectedly to see his very ill grandmother in Nevada.

Last Wednesday afternoon an unexpected phone call with information that his grandmother had a cancer diagnosis, and the probability of a short time to live, catapulted him to action. He talked about how much he loved his grandmother; about his getting on the plane to Nevada the next morning--standby; he just had to come, he said.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Aging: What You Need to Know About the Fragility of Old People's Skin and Hospitals Wound Care Centers

As posted last Saturday,  Sr. Advisor R had a nonhealing leg sore. When I mentioned R's sore in answer to "How's R?" the 90-year-old questioner quickly pulled up one leg of her slacks about 5" to show me her ankles and the bruises above them. Said they'd been there for ages, she had a sore that took three months to heal, and she only wears slacks now.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Help Aging Parents: Does the Flu Worry You?

The flu worries me. I rarely say "worries." I usually say "concerns." I think that's because unless I feel I have very little control over something I use "concern." In the case of this year's flu--or several strains of flu--the worry emotion was triggered yesterday.

I needed to take Sr. Advisor R (99) to a hospital's Wound Care Center to have her leg checked. (Indeed I planned to use information gained there for today's blog until I got will appear in this Saturday's post.) As I anticipated sitting in the waiting area for a time with many others, my mind flashed: FLU GERMS. I looked for seats furthest from others. This isn't like me.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aging and Alcohol--2: Random Thoughts

For some, a bottle of alcohol may feel/seem like their best friend.  For them, a “little drink” doesn’t suffice.

One of those people was someone I knew professionally, probably in his late 60′s. How to help him was a dilemma and a challenge. On one occasion when I was at work, I received a phone call from the police station in a neighboring village. He was there, charged with DUI. Could I come and pick him up?

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making Aging Parents Happy: How An Adult Child's Good Friend Helps and Why

A good friend calls with thanks for our New Year's Eve Dinner Party. Being together was great. We talk about our plans for the day and rest of the week. My friend is playing bridge today and Friday.

"Are you playing with your friend's elderly mother today?" I ask.  "Not today, but I'll be playing with them Friday. You know, her mother's 90, doesn't hear well--really doesn't hear well and a lot of our group doesn't want to play with her because of that-- but she's a good bridge player.

I was appreciative of anything that made my mother happy (she died at 94) and if I can do this for Marcia, I'm happy to. Playing bridge gives Marcia's mother something to look forward to and gets her out of her house....."

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