Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Aging Parents--90th birthday: Elton John's mother throws her own birthday party for 80 guests, minus Elton, + an Elton John look-alike.

 Estranged Mother and Son
Gossipy posts are a rarity–if ever–on my blog. That said, being an Elton John fan, the Daily Mail’s article interested me, most especially because of his elderly mother’s seemingly very sound reasoning, which gives clues as to why–at 90– she appears to have aged very well.

Money, of course, helps. While she obviously knows how to dress and look good and throw a party, she's articulate, still has a good mind, and is certainly in touch with her feelings. When one lives a long life, regardless of economic circumstances, major losses and big disappointments are a part of it. The way they are dealt with certainly affects aging well and happy–or not.

(Note that the author of the Daily Mail’s article, Why my son Elton hasn’t spoken to me for seven years, says Elton’s mother, Ms. Farebrother, “was happy for our conversation to be recorded and indeed has approved every word of this article.”)

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Aging Parents and Caregiving--Joan Lunden's story

"Joan Lunden on Challenges, Guilt and Caregiving. Her breast cancer battle and selfless life story are inspiring."  Reblogged from this week's nextavenue, PBS's online newsletter.

Joan Lunden
Photo from JoanLunden.com

...Lunden’s life has been a series of triumphs and challenges. As a young girl, she lost her father, a cancer surgeon, in a plane crash. As she began her career as a TV broadcast journalist 30 years ago, she also became a caregiver both to her brother, who had health complications from type 2 diabetes, and to her mother, who was eventually diagnosed with dementia. 

What Lunden didn’t know at the time, she says, is that caring for her brother and mother simultaneously is when her caregiving journey began........... 

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Aging Parents: Help for Caregiver Stress--The Best Stress-Relief Posts I've Found

Stress accompanies caregiving...

Yet caregiver stress differs from ordinary stress, like that from the work place. Its "ingredients" differ. Love, caring, devotion, loyalty, pushing oneself to--and beyond--the limit. While granted there is satisfaction, frustration, anger, resentment and fatigue are common byproducts. They generate stress. Can non-careivers appreciate caregiver stress?

Unlike Supreme Court Justice's Potter Stewart's famous pornography quote: "I know it when I see it," I believe we can only know caregiver stress if we've experienced it. With so much information about reducing caregiver stress  (about 17,700,000 items on Google; 1.990,000 on Yahoo) shouldn't we have learned to control it by now?

Three apparent roadblocks:

1, One size doesn't fit all (neither the elders we care for--nor us)
2. Non-caregiving family members often can't/don't appreciate the stress, and don't help.
3. We're often not very good at asking for--no insisting on--help when we need it. Is giving up "ownership" difficult? (True, they may not do as good a job as we.)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Oxalis Regnelli --Shamrocks at Trader Joe's in Arizona.

Bring interesting, fun to watch, blooming-year-round, easy-care Shamrock plants to elders for St. Patrick's Day. Green or purplish leaves that open in the morning and close at night, they bring a little life into the home.

Seemingly reduced to $2.99--don't they make great last-minute (or even extra) St. Patrick's Day gifts for aging parents--or anyone we care about?


PS These plants were unavailable in NYC last week. Perhaps because of late arrival (although I heard they were available in AZ last week), they are reduced--at least in this AZ store. 


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Aging Parents and Vacation Planning

When parents are old--healthy or not--can we plan vacations very far in advance?...Very far away? Do we dare to go on vacation?

March: Vacation advertising increases. It looks enticing, yet caution often fills our thoughts and precedes our making a commitment.

  • Can we risk going? 
  • If our elders are going to miss us, do we feel guilty?
  • Do we have confidence in the person who will care for them and contact us if problems arise?
We can decide to afford trip cancellation insurance. That covers one aspect. Yet our uncertainty  remains:
--Do we forgo a needed, well-earned or simply badly-wanted vacation?
--Will guilt and concern weigh on us emotionally and taint the trip?

A previously planned trip to Italy with friends presented this dilemma. We went....

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Aging Parents: Make Elderly Happy~Thanks to St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day. Another opportunity to make elderly people happy: happiness created by anticipation if we've planned ahead to do something with them; unexpected happiness from an unexpected gift or communication. And you don't have to be Irish to participate. A NYC ad campaign, ubiquitous in the NYC subways throughout the '60's and 70's, proclaimed: "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's real Jewish Rye." 

Likewise in NYC, we don't have to be Irish to love corned beef and cabbage, catch the spirit, and participate in St. Patrick's Day festivities. Every important politician, it seems, is Irish that day, marching--with high visibility-- in the popular  St. Patrick's Day Parade.

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