Aging Parents and Elderly Clients with Stories to Share
Welcome back! I took a two week hiatus from blogging, not because I wanted to but because there were only so many hours in the day and I had to focus elsewhere for a couple of weeks. I hope you are still with me.
Today is Labor Day in the US and Canada. It means that for many it’s a holiday from work so we ended up with a 3-day weekend. I hope you’re enjoying the extra day off if you are so blessed. Labor Day means different things to different people. If you want to know the original intent then Google it.
In my lifetime it has meant the end of summer with one final gathering of friends and family for a picnic or outdoor grill-fest.
For those of you who are archery hunters it means the opening of archery season in a number of states and time spent in the woods hunting for food. In some of those same states it is the opening of steelhead fishing season on certain waters and the anglers are out in droves even though the fish don’t usually start arriving until October.
For youngsters this holiday signifies that for the next two and a half months they will be in classrooms four or five days a week without any holiday break. It’s a time for that last summer fling in the pool, at the boardwalk, on the beach, in the river, at the campground, or maybe even on the golf course.
Now for the tie-in with my major topic, which is how adult children can engage with their aging parents,or elderly clients in meaningful dialogues on the theme of aging and preparation for the transitions of aging. It’s simple–take a look at all of the opportunities this 3-day weekend offers:
1) gentlemen-share the grill time with your father or other elderly members of the family and chat about family history
2) ladies-spend time while preparing the potato salad and cole slaw sharing secret family recipes
3) when the food is served ask each elder present to share a story from their lifetime and how things have changed over the years
4) before dessert is served pull out some family photo albums and reminisce on the importance of shared family history
5) ask the adults present to discuss the type of work they did and how they feel about the changes in our society related to work, business, technology, banking, commerce, farming or any other topic of interest.
Opportunities for sharing are always available if we look hard enough and make the effort. Incorporate similar questions and actions into your family gatherings throughout the year. By doing this you honor your elders and offer them the opportunity to be in the spotlight. This is important for their self worth and is also a developmental need as they age. It also opens the door for sharing stories and reinforcing family culture through oral history.
One more thought: have someone act as historian and scribe by putting them in charge of a tape recorder and asking them to transcribe the stories to be shared with all family members. Photos of all family events are a nice touch as well. With today’s technology and camera phones this is a simple way to record your precious family events.
How do you share family time with your aging parents? I’d love to hear your stories.