6 Must-Have Conversations When Caring for Elderly Parents

converse old and youngOne of the more painful memories in my life was telling my father that he was no longer capable of driving or living alone. A tall, physically active man, Dad had worked since his teens in the Great Depression, fought in World War II, married and raised two boys to manhood, and dealt with the death of his spouse, burying his wife of more than 50 years. He was a proud man, always ready to help others and capable of handling life’s setbacks with equal measures of grit and grace. To him, being a man meant being able to take care of yourself.
 
Over the previous decade, I had watched his physical and mental faculties gradually fade. The decline was slower in the beginning, but reached a faster pace as he approached 80 years of age. After a minor car accident in which he had turned into the path of an approaching vehicle, the attending policeman called me aside and insisted that I take away his keys.
 
As the eldest son and his only living relative within the state, the responsibility of care fell to me. I struggled with the irony of our situation, the reversal of natural roles where parent directs child. Despite my trepidation, however, taking away his car keys was for his own safety and others on the road – a loving child has no good alternative in that position.

Aging and Its Consequences

While everyone ages at a different pace, the consequences are inevitable for everyone. As you grow older, you are likely to experience some or all of the following physical and mental changes:

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5 Timeless & Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Parents

Senior couple Harlen Miller, artist and author of “Slow Down Arthur, Stick to Thirty,” said, “Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don’t quite know how to put our love into words.” The Christmas Season, as well as birthdays and anniversaries, are occasions of great joy, as well as frustration, especially when it comes to selecting gifts for the elderly.

While there is a plethora of gift ideas for young children, what-to-buy for parents is especially difficult for a few reasons

  • Parents often have the financial ability to buy what they want when they want it
  • Past gifts, as well as purchases, have been accumulated for decades – so much, in some cases, that there is little space for storage in their houses
  • Aging has diminished their physical or mental abilities to enjoy active participation or use complicated electronic gadgets
  • Gift givers may lack the time or inspiration to create an unusual gift or experience for their parents

As a card-carrying member of the AARP Generation, I understand the dilemma of my children seeking gifts to please me or my spouse. However, I can also attest that the gifts I’ve treasured the most over the years were not the most expensive, or even available from a store, but were crudely made ashtrays, hand-painted pictures, or special moments of time and togetherness given in love. Simple, often inexpensive gifts that say “I love you” or “I remember the good times” are the ones that will be kept and revisited year after year.

Great Gifts for Parents From Adult Children

1. A Personal Letter from a Child or Grandchild

A handwritten, heartfelt letter from a child or grandchild is always appropriate and becomes more cherished as time goes by. Grammar and misspellings don’t matter; there is no grading and no critic who will review the contents for plot or accuracy. Simply recalling a time that was shared between child and parent, expressing how much enjoyment you felt, and thanking your parent or parents for that memory is enough to make it special.

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