Tag Archive | family

Keep the Holidays Joyful

Photo courtesy morguefile.com & a2jc4life

As the holidays approach and life becomes especially busy, it’s important to remember our aging parents.

Joey’s mother sat in her recliner by the fireplace. “Mom, let’s put up your Christmas tree.”

“Don’t bother. No one to enjoy it.” She slumped deep into her chair. “I get so I start dreading the holidays in the middle of summer.”

Joey’s mother isn’t unusual. Many seniors feel especially lonesome during the holidays. Memories of a spouse long past, drift back. Their own immortality glares them in the face. The inability to make their home the bustling source of activity it once was hits hard.

Holidays can still bring joy into your aging parent’s life, it simply requires a little extra effort.

Don’t overdo decorations. For seniors still living in their private residents, don’t overdo. It’s easy to zip in, bring down all the normal decorations and spice up the house for the holiday. But for the aging parent, it may be too much. Sometimes the best of intentions fall short. Instead of seeing the joy of the holidays, your loved one may worry about funds for gifts they are unable to afford or hosting a dinner for the family they are unable to prepare. Use discretion and decorate gingerly, bringing out things that are simple yet pretty. Ease aging parents into the holiday spirit.

Change the giving process. Give parents permission to skip the purchase of family gifts by turning the tables. “This year we are celebrating you and all you do for us.” Find a family tradition you can expound upon. It’s a long running joke in our family about socks. Everyone gets a special pair of socks from mom. Small bags and boxes are passed out and as everyone opens their socks the family cheers. It’s silly, but fun and something that Mom can continue to do even in her 90’s, that brings laughter and joy. Find a fun family tradition and let go of the expense of gift giving for your aging parent.

Family meals. Rather than your parent being responsible for feeding the troops, make the holiday meals a carry-in. Treat parents by taking the work out of special meals and clean up.

Include parents in individual family events. Don’t forget to invite and bring aging parents to individual family events. Welcome them to Christmas morning in your home or “day after” events. Some families have “leftover days” where their adult children gather to finish off what’s left from large holiday meals. The point is, include your parent. Sometimes the greatest loneliness occurs the day after the holiday.

Small surprises. Surprise loved ones with sudden visits, lunch dates, or little gifts. Revive the joy of the holidays with family. Family is the legacy of aging parents. Make it a focus.

Despite what we do during the holidays, there is always a little sadness when we miss those who’ve passed. Respect those moments. Talk about them. Share fun stories and sweet memories. Loneliness quickly passes to that warmth of sweet memories. Ring in the holidays by setting a joyful atmosphere. It’s never too late to build memories.

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Years, Cherished Memories

MemoriesAging, for most, is a harsh realization. One day you’re in your prime the next you wake up older, a bit gray…a little slower. Time has suddenly slipped past. Somewhere between active and early morning stiffness, the line between middle age and elder blurred.

Albums line  bookshelves and walls  are covered in generations of photos that leave nail holes and dusty shadows on the paint.

I recently installed an emergency alert button for an aging friend’s mother.  Once the unit was installed I pulled the button from the box. My friend’s mom stood staring at her living room wall covered in family photos.

“Here’s your button. Just slip it over your head and wear it 24/7.” Her stare deepened and I could tell she’d not heard me. “You okay?” I asked.

She jerked. “Oh, I’m sorry. I was just looking at my family.”

“And they’re a beautiful family.” For the next half hour the woman pointed to photos sharing the relationship and sweet stories about each one. Before I knew, we were on the coach thumbing through old photos of her husband during World War II. For this woman, her walk through the family albums were bathed in the richness of cherished memories.

There is more to our elderly than creaking bones and sagging skin. In them we find our history. Our connection to what once was…different times, stronger values, ethics that seem to have slipped away from younger generations. Wisdom. Strength. The ability to seek out hope in a time when hope seemed fleeting. These are moments, we as baby boomers need grasp  and hold.

Our world pushes us into an extensive busyiness, that in turn, forces us to allow the valuable moments found in our aging parents to slip past. We are their legacy, their contribution to the world.

Take time and enjoy the richness found in your parents and grandparents. If you are fortunate enough to still have great grandparents, then do not let the opportunity pass to know the little things about them. Your life will be blessed and your appreciation for them and their struggles will become real. In the midst of the dusty photos, you’ll find the deep love and sacrifice our seniors have made so our lives are better.

Our parents and grandparents deserve the best. Care for them as such.

And So It Begins…

Children depend on parents. It’s how it’s meant to be. Couples marry, have children and raise them. Their rewards usually come in the form of grandchildren, which at times, means grandparent-dom becomes parenting all over again. The fact is society has changed its view of the family unit. Parents are needed when their children are young, used when their children begin to raise their own families and then become abandoned as the elderly.

It’s a sad fact but true, in the United States our elderly are considered a problem, lower class citizens. Eastern countries honor their seniors placing their care above all other things. Even poorer third world countries refuse to push their aging parents out to fend for themselves. What has happened in America?

Perhaps in our effort to better ourselves we’ve lost sight of the importance of family and the circle of life which bonds us. As a nation, we’ve worked hard to make ourselves independent of others not realizing the end result falls to greed, stubbornness and ultimately, loneliness. 2011 marked the first year Baby Boomers “came of age,” hitting age 65 themselves and though they have raised their own children they are grossly unprepared to care for their own aging parents.

A critical first step to aging parental care is having that first conversation, laying it all on the table. Baby Boomers have to ask the question, “Mom, Dad…what about your care?” No one said this would be an easy conversation. Let’s face it. Talking about our aging brings our immortality into reality.

Still this is not a conversation that should be put on hold until the day mom or dad finally concede to assistance. Mother has a heart attack or Daddy is 90+ and getting feeble. They need help. You need help helping.

The roles of parent and child reverse. The loving parent, the caregiver for 65 years of your life is now the one who needs care and you are now the caregiver. I’m going to walk you through some important steps to help you pull together a good quality of care for your parents. Within these pages you’ll find simple how-to’s, good solid advice and even tough love.

Take a deep breath and prepare for the golden years. Perhaps along the way, you’ll see the importance of having these same conversations with your own children.

So it begins….caring for an aging parent. Our goal – to help ease the transition, to award you a new and appropriate title for your position and to allow you to enjoy the end years of the ones who have loved and cared for you so faithfully.