Technology should be a two-part gift, where in addition to giving the equipment, loved ones give the gift of their time to help seniors learn how to use it. Show them how to open up an email account, sign up for Facebook or answer their smartphone. Be patient, focus on ease of use and be ready for lots of questions every time they log in until they figure it out. Understand that it will take time and will require repetition before a senior is comfortable.
My husband and I are empty nesters. Over these past few years, as blog readers know, we helped to support his parents, now deceased. These days we regularly touch base with my parents by phone and in person as often as possible, and though they are currently independent and active, at times they welcome our help.
Now we, too, are also beginning to think about retirement, and it’s never far from our thoughts. Even with no specific deadlines and daily jobs we really like, even as time passes in a relaxed sort of way, we find ourselves imagining the next developmental stage of our lives. What will we do? Will we work part-time? How about ushering some evenings at theatres? Will we be able to travel as much as we want? Oh, and how will our financial resources hold out?
The proprietors over at the Inside Aging Parents blog, and especially Bill Shanks, are writing some interesting posts about the beginning of retirement and the necessary decision-making, and their thoughts address many of my questions. If you, too, are beginning to think about this late-in-life developmental stage, I encourage you to head on over there and check out Bill’s posts.
Please note that blogtalk radio runs video advertisement before Dale’s program begins, but you can also listen by clicking on the welcome page of Transition Aging Parents and scrolling down on the right hand side or the page, thereby avoiding most of the blogtalk radio advertising.
Many blogs and caregiving articles are encouraging adult children to “be alert for signs” of extreme aging. With titles such as “Ten Things to Observe When You Visit Your Aging Parents Over the Holidays” or “How to Spy and Check Out Whether A Parent Needs Support,” the posts explain that family crisis time may be just around the corner, and you may need to use the holiday get-togethers as an information gathering period. And, yes, one recent piece really did use the word spying.
These articles describe a real phenomenon. Unfortunately, many of us adult children — some of us living far away and others just around the corner from parents — do not tune in until significant problems arise. What puzzles me, however, is why so few articles try help us figure out how to begin these conversations in advance — mastering the communication basics and expecting typical setbacks — long before the problems build up and crises loom.
Something about the way grandparents drive, the data indicate, keeps their grandchildren safer when an accident occurs, than when the children are driving with parents. Researchers hope to investigate further to find out more about this phenomenon, especially given that 70 million boomers are moving into the grandparent phase of life.
Join Facebook? For three years I avoided the site. I knew that some of my friends from work, church, and other activities were joining, but I just did not feel like it was a fit. My daughter, then in graduate school, used the social networkingsite, and she occasionally suggested I get started with Facebook. Still I refrained.
At some point, however, I became aware that my mother and my daughter were communicating with each other more than usual. They knew things about each other that I did not know. Finally my daughter mentioned that her grandmother — my mother — was on Facebook and that the two of them had “friended’ one another. That’s when I called Mom, at that time age 81. She explained that her fellow workers from the Obama campaign, exceptional young people she called them, had arranged virtual reunions on Facebook. They wanted her to participate and helped her get started.
So I found that I was in the middle, but basically out of the generational communication loop. By the time I tuned in, my mother had over 100 friends, all people she knew in one way or another (no strangers, she reassured me), and quite a few in her age range. I signed up for Facebook.