WoW! This is a first for me. The first day on the blog and all I can do is sit here in wonderment. I have so much to say, but it will have to wait for future posts.
This blog is for you, the reader, your family members, and your friends. Please share the information here. My goal is to help you learn how to have more collaborative conversations with your aging parents about the life-changing events they will face as they age and the sometimes scary prospect of end-of-life preparation. Please ask me questions.
I will post on Sundays and Wednesdays with snippets of information in each post. All of us have busy lives and multiple things to do in our free time so in an endeavor to keep the posts short I’ll usually only touch on one topic at a time. Conversations with family members can be difficult. Tread lightly and take baby steps. Please leave comments.
You can expect to find information here about aging issues, advocacy, building relationships, caretaking, developmental needs, emergencies, end-of-life planning, finances, health care, housing, respite, and safety, There are entire books written on each of these subjects, but I’ll try to give you the basics then link you with connections on where you can find more information. Please be interactive on this blog.
My background in home health and private duty nursing has shown me many families who have lacked information on how to proceed with love, respect, and dignity through the muddy waters of aging, Alzheimers, chronic illness, and dementia. Let’s work together to explore the information available so you can avoid the same mistakes.
Until next time…
All my best,
It seems to be a subject that has priority in my thoughts these days–FOOD. Not that I am craving any particular food or having issues with food, but as a nurse I see so many people who are struggling with issues surrounding food. Our nation has become over run with grocery stores full of processed, pre-packaged, sugar-laden foods (more space devoted to unhealthy foods than to fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy dairy natural grains and undoctored protein) which we grab because the fancy packaging grabs our attention or we’re in a hurry and want a quick fix.
We also have a high population of diabetics who are confused about how they’re supposed to eat since time with their doctor is limited (sometimes to just 15 or 20 minutes) and there isn’t enough time to absorb all the information, ask questions, and integrate all the dietary and medication advice to be learned.
Food becomes an issue that is often ignored despite the fact that proper nutrition can delay the onset, and in some case prevent development, of Type II Diabetes. For those already diagnosed and on medication proper carbohydrate counting and decreased fat consumption can mean the ability to reduce, or eliminate, the need for medication.
Proper diet can also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol or other lipid disorders.
Can you count how many TV commercials there are for various types of medications junk food? Now think about how many commercials promote consumption of fresh fruits, healthy foods like yogurt or cheese, eggs, whole grain cereals and lean meats.
Pick up a magazine. Unless it’s a magazine devoted to gardening or specific eating styles you’ll find it full of ads for snack foods, desserts, medications and coupons for junk food.
Is it any wonder we’re a nation with expanding waist lines?
The title of today’s post also includes boredom. What does that have to do with food?
When I’m bored I eat. I grab whatever is at hand and I eat. I don’t tend to make big meals, but I’ll grab a handful of something to keep me occupied. Getting up and getting the snack or the drink makes me feel productive. Do you do this? Have you noticed if your aging parents do this?
Are you or your aging parents/elderly clients bored? If so, you all are more likely to eat more than you need in calories. Along with that you’re more likely to sit around watching TV or being inactive–it’s part of what leads to the boredom.
So what do we do about the boredom?
- Get up and get active.
- Get a dog and take multiple walks.
- Join a neighborhood group and socialize.
- Take a class. There are extension programs in even the smallest towns, find one and sign up for a class. It doesn’t have to be academic. Learn origami or a musical instrument, how to rumba, take a beginner yoga class.
- Volunteer at the local nursing home, hospital, day care center, or school. Every service organization needs volunteers whether they hold non-profit or for-profit status.
- Take up gardening.
This brings me to the final point in today’s title: Gardening
One way to overcome the boredom and to eat a healthier diet is to garden. Ok, your aging parents may not be able to get out there and till the soil, weed a large garden, or engage physically in heavy garden chores.
No worries. There are multiple options:
- Outdoor container gardening in large pots, water troughs, window boxes hanging baskets or any other container type you can find.
- A small raised bed garden at waist height so there’s no bending
- A cooperative effort with friends or neighbors so the workload is shared based on individual abilities
- Indoor window sill pots with herbs or lettuce, vegetables
- A small greenhouse
The idea is to assess needs, abilities, individual likes and dislikes and then get to work. No rush, no major adjustments, just a nice ease into the process. By spending a little time planning and making choices that fit the individual situation your parents can grow some tasty food to improve their health, get a little exercise to keep the heart working better, stave off some boredom, and feel productive. Maybe there will even be enough produced from their little venture to share with family or friends. Everyone wins!
What do you think? Was this helpful? Do you have comments you’d like to share? I’m open for suggestions and appreciate all interaction.
Thank you to my readers for following along. I love to hear from you and appreciate your support.
Last week I wrote about the issue of hunger facing elderly adults. I’m hoping the post prompted at least some of you to gain awareness on the issue in your community and to get involved in being part of the solution.
This post will talk about food as something we all have different connections to. Bottom line though, I hope you’ll walk away with the idea that it’s all about love. Love for ourselves, love for our bodies, love for each other, and love for the planet. Food is a big topic these days around all of those subjects.
Let’s face it. When we feel sad or lonely, depressed, and sometimes even when we’re angry we turn to food for comfort or just because it makes us feel in control. Our aging parents may do the same thing. If all things are done in moderation then there really isn’t a problem, but expecting food to make things better can become an out of control problem.
Ease of use: For seniors it is much easier to buy and prepare the pre-packaged foods full of preservatives, added sugars, salt, and chemicals than it is to prepare a meal from scratch for just one or two people. Ease of preparation, easy storage, and shelf longevity make these items appealing .
Cost: I don’t know about you, but I don’t see many coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables. Even canned or frozen fruits and vegetables don’t have a large number of coupons. Farmer’s markets in rural areas aren’t usually set up to take food stamps. Produce and fresh foods, whether organic or not, seem to be higher in cost than junk food and pre-packaged items.
Lack of understanding: Many aging adults were delighted when pre-packaged foods came on the scene. These advances made their busy lives easier. Microwaves and small convection ovens were developed and this caused major changes in the way food was prepared and conceived. There was no understanding about how food affected health conditions or disease processes such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Over the years, as we’ve seen a rise in obesity and the associated disease processes (heart disease, vascular problems, diabetes, vision loss, cancer, irritable bowel, diverticulitis, and such things as gastroesophageal reflux) scientists and doctors have found a strong connection to the food we eat and the condition of our bodies, not only as we age, but throughout the life span.
One thing they all agree on is that the right kinds of food, and a well hydrated body, have a positive effect on the way we look, feel, age, and maintain health. Regardless of age we can change our diets and feel better. Your aging parents can reverse the debilitating effects, and slow the progression of advancing health problems by making dietary changes and without adding additional medications. In some cases they may even be able to get off some of their medications.
The big question is how to assist our aging parents, elderly clients, and seniors in general in a change of lifestyle by getting them involved in healthy eating?
That’s a big question and one not easily answered. It is also one we need to look at for ourselves and our children. We all need to eat healthy diets and drink plenty of clean, fresh water. How do we do that?
First we must recognize that this is not something that is going to happen over night. Baby steps over time will make this easier and also have longer lasting effects.
Second we need to realize that walking in and laying down dictums isn’t going to work. If your parents are anything like me they don’t deal well with someone else laying down the rules. If you think about it you probably don’t either. Work collaboratively and find out what their food preferences are before making any changes. If someone doesn’t like cauliflower they aren’t likely to start eating it just because it’s healthy.
Third we need to educate ourselves and our parents on the proper way to eat. Treat this as a game or an adventure and you’ll have much better success.
Here are some of my suggestions on how you can learn more about what foods to eat and also why. This is a learning process; it takes time and commitment, but once you’re on board and can get your parents on board the change in the way everyone feels is an almost instant reward.
- Check out Dr. Mark Hyman and what he has to say about blood sugar. He has a book out “The Blood Sugar Solution”. It is a great investment in your health and well-being as well as that of your parents.
- Check out Kris Carr’s blog at http://www.mycrazysexylife.com and learn some fun recipes, easy tips, and gain a new perspective on food.
- Increase the amount of water consumed in a day. A super goal to achieve is half the body weight in ounces of water. For example a 160 lb. person would drink 80 oz. of water. That’s about 2 1/2 quarts a day. It may seem like alot of water, but in the long run it’s not so hard to achieve if one starts out slowly and works up to the amount.
- Look into ways to get fresh produce for less $$$. Buy directly from someone who has a large garden. Let other gardeners know you will take excess produce off their hands. See if there is a co-op in your area and sign up both you and your aging parents.
- With all that extra produce plan a canning party two or three times a season to put up vegetables by hand for winter consumption. This is great sharing time with your elderly parents. Everyone can pitch in and help if you make it a family event. If the family is small then make it a block party or invite special friends. The key is to have as many hands as the kitchen can hold and to make it fun.
- Have adventures in checking through cookbooks (remember the Moosewood cookbooks from the 70s-Molly Katzen made vegetarian dishes that were fun and delicious).
- Cut back the pre-packaged foods with fresh substitutes a bit at a time.
- Remember to allow for food preferences, allergies, and plain dislikes when planning and purchasing.
I think I’ve given you enough to think about for today. Let’s remember to include others, lend a helping hand to those in need, and let’s promote the healthy food revolution.
I love hearing from my readers and would enjoy reading your experiences or sharing your recipes. Feel free to make suggestions and leave comments in the comment section.
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you found the information helpful. Feel free to interact.
Have you ever been hungry?
Have you ever been hungry and not been able to pay for food to eat?
Do you ever stop to think if those in your neighborhood, down the block, in your town, city, or community are going hungry?
Do you know that many senior citizens eat less than one meal a day?
It may surprise you to know that the old woman down the street lives on less than $700 a month, doesn’t receive food stamps, and rarely eats more that 500 calories in one day. This isn’t an isolated case or something that happens in just the poorer neighborhoods, but is a common, every day phenomenon rarely addressed by the media and unknown to most of us going about our daily business.
As a child my mother used to guilt us into eating everything on our plate by talking about starving children in other parts of the world. I never heard anything about the starving woman or elderly gentleman at the end of the street. How many of you feed your family and then blithely throw away left overs or take for granted that there will always be something in the cabinet to eat.
I started thinking about this a few weeks back and realized after meeting with one of my patients that this is not an uncommon situation. There are at least two food banks in the small town I live in. I believe both are run by churches. I hadn’t really given it a thought except to donate canned goods, write a check once in a while, and occasionally go down to help pack up boxes of food when I have some extra time.
Back to the patient. He came in and we were discussing his multiple health issues and how he could possibly feel better if he were to eat a healthy diet. I laid out some meal plans for him and he nodded his agreement. Then I asked him how motivated he was to incorporate some of these things into his meal planning and diet.
He looked at me with sad eyes filled with tears and asked where the money was going to come from to pay for the food.
I asked him to explain. He said, “I get $530 a month from Social Security and $78 in food stamps.” My rent is $350 a month. My electric bill is about $50 a month if I am careful. My medications cost me $103 a month. That leaves me $27 for everything else (bus fare, the newspaper, and whatever food I need beyond my $78 in food stamps. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, and most days I don’t eat anything but a bowl of cereal.”
Needless to say, I had tears in my own eyes by the time he finished speaking. I asked if ever went to the food banks and he said that yes, he went when he could afford the bus fare. The food banks dispense boxes to people at most twice a month and the amount of food is based on the donations they receive. Yes, there is a senior center in town which serves a full meal twice a week, but the participants must provide their own transportation. There is no Meals on Wheels program locally for shut ins or those without transportation.
A few days later I had a woman with a similar story. She gets by with eggs from the few hens she has and plants a garden in the summer. She can barely walk so caring for her chickens and her garden takes almost all of her strength. She eats fairly well in the summer time, but late fall, winter, and early spring are lean times for her in terms of food. She has a car, but can no longer drive it and there is little room in her budget for bus fare.
Both of these situations got me thinking and doing some research. Hunger is rampant among the elderly in our small town. The kids get breakfast and lunch at school and most of the poorer families have a good food stamp allotment, but our seniors are literally starving.
As a nurse I know that proper nutrition can go a long way in enhancing quality of life and even decreasing symptoms of diabetes, arthritis, mental illness, gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, and many other lesser known illnesses. A body cannot fight off infection without a strong immune system. The immune system can’t function if it doesn’t have fuel in the form of food. Cancer thrives in a debilitated body. How can a body be strong if there isn’t enough food to feed it and keep it functioning.
Does any of this alarm you, tug at your heart, cry out to you for a call to action?
If so here are some things that you can do to help:
- Get to know your neighbors. Say hello to the people along your street, on your block, in your neighborhood.
- Once you get to know people gently find out if they have enough food to eat–especially the elderly folks.
- Be on the lookout for senior citizens who don’t have many visitors (no family, few friends, inability to get out and socialize).
- Donate food, money, and time to your local food banks.
- Offer to drive people to the senior center meal site who don’t have money or a means of transportation.
- Look into establishing a Meals on Wheels program in your community or volunteering for the one that is already there.
- If you find someone (or many someones) who need additional food see if they would accept a meal from you once a week. Ok, I know you think this means more work for you, but just fix a plate of roast, mashed potatoes and green beans from what you’re already making for Sunday dinner or throw in an extra handful of pasta on spaghetti night, another piece of garlic bread, and a few more lettuce leaves and tomatoes into the salad. We’re talking pennies added to your food budget and no extra time.
- Think about how you can get your friends, coworkers, Bunko buddies, or other family members involved in similar efforts. In other words be an advocate to alleviate hunger in your area and spread the word.
- Find out if your own aging parents are dealing with hunger issues. If so, forget doo-dads and baubles for birthdays and Christmas–instead gift them with healthy food. If they live close by include them in a meal once a week (or more often if possible). Invite your elderly hungry neighbors to join your family for a meal once a week or whatever works for you. This will help them in terms of food, but also in terms of socialization. You will all benefit.
- Don’t assume someone else will solve the problem. Get your religious organization, work group, women’s club or whatever involved and let’s make this a community priority that spreads nationwide!
Are you with me? I hope so because this has positive impacts for everyone. I hope this post gets you thinking and more importantly, acting on behalf of others.
Please feel free to post your thoughts and stories in the comments.
I appreciate my readers and am grateful for all feedback. Have a wonderful week!
It is amazing to me how many people don’t know why we celebrate Memorial Day. We all know that it is a 3-day weekend that kicks off summer fun and adventure. Many of my co-workers are out camping this weekend or holding backyard BBQs with family and friends. When I was a kid there was always a Memorial Day parade through town with the local veterans leading off, marching bands, drum and bugle corps, lots of flags, drill teams, horseback riders, and speeches once we reached the cemetery.
We all recognized that we were marching to honor those who had fought and died for our country in all the wars gone before. These parades were observed by the entire town. Spectators turned out to cheer and wave flags. It was a small suburban town, but we had many who were fighting in Vietnam at that time. Some who never returned. Many of our fathers had been in the armed forces. Some served during the Korean conflict and others in World War II. The veterans marching at the front of the parade included survivors of World War I. We all marched with pride and had tears in our eyes during the speeches honoring those who were lost serving our country.
I’m proud to say I’m a patriot. I love my country! I am grateful to those who gave their lives so that I could live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Those who fought in World War I have passed on. I hope their stories have been recorded in family journals and passed on to the younger generations with pride and honor. Veterans from World War II are aging rapidly. Many have already passed, some are living in nursing homes or with their adult children, others are suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and cannot remember. Once again, I hope their stories have been recorded and shared.
Let this Memorial Day serve as a reminder to recognize the sacrifices made and also to remember those who are still with us with stories to share. Listen to them, encourage them to share their experiences and their sacrifices. Honor them with your full attention and presence. Be grateful for the sacrifice of others for our freedom!
I apologize for the lack of blog posts during this month of May. I had to take a hiatus and decide whether I would continue to blog and share despite the lack of dialogue and few readers. I’ve decided, after much contemplation that I have valuable information to share so I will continue to post (and hopefully on a regular schedule). I will commit to at least one post per week on Monday and will strive for two (Monday and Thursday).
Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. I hope it is safe and enjoyable for you. Please remember to keep the spirit of the day though and acknowledge the sacrifice and give memory to those who have fallen on your behalf.
If there are particular topics you have an interest in related to your aging parents and how you can wend your way through the caregiver labyrinth please let me know. This blog is for you. My intent is to share the knowledge I have and to gain more from your stories and insights so please interact.
For those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while you know that my desire is to encourage you to break down the communication barriers between the generations. In other words, I want to get adult children talking with their aging parents about any and all subjects. For some families the conversations flow easily and there’s an easy segueway from every day banter to more involved subjects such as health care and end-of-life planning.
Some recent posts dealt with questions and scenarios to help those with not-so-good communication between the generations and hopefully you’ve tried out the questions, or come up with your own questions, and had stellar results. If you missed those posts you can access them from this site and see if they have any value for you.
Today I’d like to explore a subject that is dear to my heart and also necessary if your parents are going to navigate through the health care system with an understanding of what is going on with their health. I encourage adult children to frequently accompany their aging parents to medical and dental appointments. This is not only for those with parents who have fading memories, but for everyone. (In coming years I would hope you have someone accompanying you to your appointments. Maybe you’re already doing it now–that’s good!)
Some of you will be saying it isn’t necessary because your parents are fully functional and independent. Let me be clear; this is not so you can monitor the health of your parents or interfere in their treatment, but rather so there can be more successful results, greater understanding, and quicker resolution to any non-chronic health issues. An extra set of eyes and ears during a health care visit can help alleviate confusion for both the doctor and the patient, help the patient remain calm and receptive to what is being said, and offer support to the patient who may become nervous or overwhelmed by what the doctor is saying. (Today we’re focusing on routine health care, not necessarily crisis visits.)
If your parent is being seen in a clinic setting there is probably a short period (15-20 minutes) allotted for the appointment. In most instances clinics are run by large corporations and the aim of those corporations is to make money. Whether you agree with that paradigm of health care or not it is the reality in most areas of today’s health care system.
Here are some things you can do to assist your aging parents in having a successful medical or dental appointment with their care provider:
- Take a complete list of all medications your parent is using. The list should include over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin, Tylenol, or Maalox. Also include all vitamins or herbal supplements such as a daily multivitamin with minerals, echinacea, goldenseal, St. John’s Wort, etc. On the list make sure the frequency of use is noted and include the dosage, time of day, and what the medication or supplement is used for. It’s helpful to be able to leave a copy with the medical provider and also have one for yourself and one for your parent to refer to during the appointment.
- If your parent has questions about the purpose of a medication be sure to write the question down and ask the medial provider. Be sure you and your parent have a clear understanding of why the medication is being prescribed and what to expect as a result of taking it.
- Ask if you should be aware of any potential side effects and what to do if they are noted. You may also want to ask the pharmacist the same question if new medications are prescribed.
- If your parent is going in for a routine physical be sure the medical provider gives a complete list of any health issues he/she feels your parent is facing.
- Ask for full explanations of any plan of treatment related to any medical condition.
- Set goals with the health care provider to achieve the highest results from the plan of treatment.
- If the medical provider orders tests or procedures be sure you understand what he/she is looking for and why the tests are being ordered.
- If your parent is not comfortable having the test done explore other options with the health care provider and find out what adverse events may occur as a result of not having the test done. The decision whether to have the test or not is completely up to your parent. It is not for you, or the doctor, to force them to do something they are not comfortable with.
- If tests, or procedures are ordered and your parent agrees to them be sure you understand the risks involved and when the results can be expected. Honor your parent’s choice as to whether they want you to be informed of the results or not. If they do want you to be informed be sure that the clerical staff are aware and that it is noted on the patient chart who is to be allowed access to results.
- When going to a follow-up appointment to receive test results be sure to inquire about the next step. Get a clear understanding of what the results are and if the medical provider now has a clear understanding of what the problem is. What is the course of treatment? What are the expectations? What is the time frame for expected results.
- In the process of setting goals with the medical/dental provider be sure both sides completely understand the goal, have a defined time frame for completion, and are looking for the same results.
In the medical field we call this patient centered care. It requires collaboration and cooperation by both parties. Why is this important?
The obvious importance of such interactions is that it involves the patient and empowers them in their own plan of care. The second aspect of importance is something most individual patients don’t think about, and aren’t exposed to, but it is what will be measured by insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, and other payors as the next wave of health care unfolds.
We are already seeing this in everyday practice in the health profession. Payors (the insurance companies, etc.) want to see positive outcomes and some are even basing their payments for services on the outcomes achieved. How can there be positive outcomes unless both the patient and the medical provider are on the same page? How can outcomes be measured unless goals are set, understood, and initiated by both the patient and the provider? How can we as individuals make the health care system work so that patients receive the best care and providers are held accountable for the care they give and reimbursement is paid at an acceptable level to continue the process of a successful health care delivery system?
It is important that every patient take ownership for their part in the health care decision making process. Informed patients with supportive families and collaborative attitudes will enhance the entire process.
Please feel free to express your experiences in dealing with a changing health care system. Have you had successes? Are there areas you’d like to see focused on? Please share in the comments.
Thank you for reading and participating in my blog! Your support is greatly appreciated!
Yesterday we celebrated Easter. Here in the US many families gathered together to worship and then share food, fun, and laughter. Hopefully it was a banner day for conversations with aging parents or grandparents. Did you learn anything new during your family gathering?
- Maybe you heard an often told story and it took on a different meaning for you this time.
- Perhaps you learned your mom’s middle name for the first time.
- Possibly you were given a glimpse into your parent’s courtship and early marriage.
When i was a child we had many family gatherings. The men went downstairs into my father’s den and smoked, maybe had a glass of scotch, and talked politics and finance. Women were relegated to the kitchen preparing food or cleaning up after the meal was over. Children ran in and out played hard and sometimes had dramatic little fights over a toy or comment made. Ahhhh…. FAMILY!
What did you talk about?
- The upcoming baseball season?
- A new recipe?
- A new job you are hoping to get?
If you are a regular reader of this blog I hope you took the opportunity to ask some questions about your parents and their wishes for the challenges they face as they age and possibly even some of their end-of-life plans.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it. These discussions are important. They aren’t hard if handled with advance planning and a bit of humor, but they are vital to easing a wall of crashing chaos that can occur with no advance warning. I don’t want you to take every holiday and make it a huge discussion about the issues of health care and dying. Rather, I’d hope that you can integrate a few questions and build trust over many years then schedule the heavy duty conversations with your parents or aging family members for non-holiday gatherings.
A few days ago a friend told me he was getting together with his parents for the first time in over a year. We had previously discussed their situation and his concern over their health issues that have become more prevalent as they’ve moved into their late sixties. I asked if he was going to explore any questions with them? His response was classic, “Oh no, I don’t have any plans for that. It will just upset them and ruin the day for everyone.”
After hearing that answer I recognized that this is the root of the entire problem. It’s really the basis for why I write this blog and am working on putting together a book on the subject. This topic literally scares people and so they put off the important discussions.
Let’s go back to the basics.
Talking about future plans is not interfering with our parents lives. It’s a way to assist them in planning for changes in their lives and also to help them plan for unexpected events so that fear, panic, and chaos don’t rein. Most of our parents are savvy enough to know they need to have a financial plan. Some purchase funeral plans in advance and spend time each year looking at insurance options as a supplement to their Medicare coverage. But that’s often where they stop thinking and planning.
My goal is to assist you, as their aging children, and your parents in the practice of loving, trusting and open discussions about their wishes surrounding housing options, health care choices, assisted care options, financial obligations and estate planning, and end-of-life planning. These discussions happen over time and each family experiences them differently. There are however some basics involved. Let’s take a look at them.
- Easy dialogue. Can you talk with each other easily about topics other than the issues of health care and end-of-life choices? If not, you need to start out just chatting about every day topics.
- Is there mutual trust and ease between the generations?
- Do you have shared value systems? This is not a deal breaker. If value systems aren’t shared then an attitude of acceptance and tolerance needs to be developed on both sides: yours and your parents.
- What kind of communication style do you have with your parents? Is it open and easy or is there a history of argument, debate, or one-sided listening?
Once you’ve identified the answers to the four questions above you can start to develop a strategy to overcome these barriers. How do you get to a point where the discussions flow with ease?
- Start out by having more frequent communication on every-day topics. Spend time together over coffee, a meal at their home or your, frequent nights out for a leisurely supper or picnic.
- Offer to spend time involved in every-day activities. Go with dad to get the car washed, accompany mom on a grocery trip or a trip to the mall, offer to mow the lawn, help mom with the spring cleaning or any other activity where you can just be engaged with each other without deep conversation.
- Building trust takes time so go slow. If they ask for your assistance be there for them even if it’s inconvenient for you. (Driving carpool for your soccer games or cheerleading tryouts wasn’t always convenient for them either.) Show that you are willing to make their requests a priority in your life and that you cognizant of their need for increasing assistance.
- Ask benign questions such as what’s your favorite food, color, flower, holiday. Then remember their answers. Keep a notebook if you need to and write down their responses. You’d be surprised how much joy it brings to your parents when you remember these little details. A bouquet of yellow daffodils for mom on Easter because you know that’s her favorite flower, or a box of macadamia nuts for dad on his birthday because he mentioned how much he loved them when he was stationed in Hawaii. I’m sure you get the drift.
From this foundation of caring, listening, and sharing (don’t forget to share some of your stories in the process) stronger ties are built and it’s much easier to build up to the more serious discussions about the issues mentioned above that are associated with aging and end-of-life planning.
Please share your stories and experiences in building a solid relationship with your aging parents. Do you have certain approaches or a special story to share? I’d love to read it!
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you’ll come back often and share in the comments.