Every adult child has some type of calendar issue when it comes to scheduling certain activities with senior parents. Even when parents keep track of their own affairs, adult children often need to be aware of some of the events.
It’s not that I need or want to know what my parents are doing every moment of their day, but when they schedule medical appointments or other meetings and I need to attend (and drive more than 100 miles to get to), it’s really important for us to coordinate our calendars. I need to see my mom’s schedule, and she needs to see mine so that she knows the days when I am working or other days when I really cannot get away.
We’ve tried a number of strategies, but often they require her to learn something entirely new, and events get scheduled on days that don’t work for at least one of us. Promptly figuring out and rescheduling the glitches is challenging.
Or it was until a week or so ago when my mother and I sat down to set up her new Google Calendar, sharing it with my Google account. Because she already uses Gmail (I recommend getting senior aging parents on this e-mail system first so they become familiar with the Google look and feel) my mom’s calendar learning curve was short. Read more »
An article in Fiscal Times, How Startups Art Profiting from Aging Boomers, describes how boomers and individuals in other age groups are creating new businesses and products that respond to the needs of people who are aging. Adult children may want to become acquainted with this business trend because products may pop up that are specially useful in the lives of elder parents. One product that I am considering for my family is CareZone (see right-hand illustration).
The April 4, 2013 piece, by Julie Halpert, points out that most boomers have a fair amount of money to spend on supportive devices if and when they are required. Moreover, it turns out that many of the people who are setting up aging-related businesses are themselves boomers.
I hope these businesses figure out a way to produce products that look like they are a part of “normal,” routine life for everyone, even if they are developed for elders. About a year ago I read about an especially interesting fact for product developers to keep in mind on Laurie Orlov’s Aging in Place Technology Watch. Orlov points out that people who are aging do not want to use products that look like they are for old people. Instead, they want products that look like anyone can use them but also have features that support a person as he or she ages. Read more »
I’ve written about senior parent hospitalizations several times on this blog. When a parent is hospitalized, an adult child needs energy, clarity, and attention to detail.
Recently Dale Carter, over at Transition Aging Parents, wrote an excellent post about her experience when her mother was hospitalized for surgery, and she includes lots of ideas that can assist those of us who help to support our parents and may spend some time with them at hospitals.
Last week I shared that I had been away, helping my mother through surgery and recovery for colon cancer. As I reflect on the many lessons learned from this experience, I’ve decided to devote this post to the 5 things I believe were key in ensuring the best care for my mother. These are things that will make a true difference, regardless of the diagnosis, your location in the country, or selection of hospital. Continue reading this post at Transition Aging Parents.
Tomorrow I am co-leading a workshop at my school about blogging. One question I am always asked when I talk about my blogs and the huge body of writing I’ve created is, “What got me started?”
In October 2009 I began work on this blog, AsOurParentsAge.net, with encouragement from my husband. His mother, Betty, was near the end of her life. Essentially, helping to care for her filled up our non-work times and had for two years. When we were not at our jobs, we were assisting Mother in some way.
We both felt a strong need to write it all down — mostly so we could think about and process our experiences later — and I took on the task. My husband was way too busy with caregiving to offer more than enthusiasm and editorial assistance. Once I started, however, I discovered I had much to write on topics related to aging. I found my voice.
That this writing continues — what I call the stick-to-it factor — I attribute to father, a lifelong journal writer. In 1947 Dad, now age 89, began writing in spiral notebooks, later switching to computers, and more recently using his iPad — although a spiral notebook is always within an arm’s reach. (Check out the iPad for Dad blog posts.) He was writing in journals years before I was born.
Below is a short blog post I wrote about my dad in 2010 and his writing. He is surely my model.
Memories of Dad’s Journaling
For as long as I can remember my father has kept a journal. I have memories, even from earliest childhood, of dad taking a few minutes to record his thoughts. It did not seem to matter where we were — at home, on a vacation, at the park, or attending one of his many conferences at colleges or universities — he was always writing.
In his recent post over at the Changing Aging blog, Kavan Peterson describes a short video, Forwarders. Intended as a parody of people who continuously forward e-mail, the video reinforces stereotypes about elders and aging. It’s sad that this short film focuses solely on one older adult, especially since so many people of all ages are extreme (and irritating) forwarders.
While it’s intended to be funny, the video’s other message is that old people with wrinkles are silly and inept — at least that’s my interpretation. I’ll bet that the video producer — I am guessing an adolescent or young adult — probably cherishes a fair number of lifelong relationships with elders. This parody promotes a stereotype that could have been alleviated simply by adding in a few younger characters who also need reforming. (I posit a guess about the creator/producer’s age after looking over other published web content.)
The video and others like it also raise a question. How do we help individuals who are Internet content “whizzes” to understand that everything uploaded is subject to interpretation?
As a teacher who concentrates on educational technology, I frequently hear the refrain, “But I did not mean to hurt that person,” usually after a student has created and uploaded what he or she considered to be amusing content. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, and sometimes various readers or viewers interpret the message differently. What my students slowly learn is that digital content may be funny to one person, not funny to another, and for some individuals downright insulting.
In today’s connected society digital natives — born into a world of computers, cell phones, and various other gadgets — find it easy to create content, but sometimes they forget that what they do and say (and upload) circulates far and wide. Different people will watch and may reach different conclusions about the work. One person’s joke can unintentionally malign others. Humor that is appropriate for a person at one age is not so funny when it’s uploaded into the world at large for everyone to see. Digital natives need to learn and respect the ways that different people view the world through slightly different lenses. Most professional writers of parody think long and hard about every detail of a project, interchanging those lenses as they create.
Over and over the media refer to boomers as a health conscious generation, and boomers often assume that their generation is healthier than their parents’ generation.
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Health Examination Survey (NHANES – Check out this informational video), researchers compared data from 1988-1994 for our parents’ generation and data from 2007-2010 for the boomers. This means that they were examining health data from similar age groups. The results are dramatic.
Some of the Findings
- In the older generation, 32% the those surveyed reported excellent health, while only 13.2% of boomers reported excellent health.
- Obesity was more common in the boomer generation.
- Regular exercise was less frequent in boomers’ lives.
- Hypertension was more common in boomers with 43% reporting the condition, but only 36% of their parents reported hypertension at the same age. Read more »
If you have ever had a stroke event in your family, you know — as we do — about the frustrating process of recovery and rehabilitation, as well as the constant bickering with benefits providers when it comes to whether a person is making “enough” progress to merit continuing rehab sessions.
If this is a familiar story, take a few minutes to read a stroke recovery article from the February 3, 2013 Washington Post, penned by United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). He writes about his stroke and the year-long road to recovery, including a description of how this dramatic health event has changed his perspective on his life and as a politician.
Yes, Senators have very good health benefits, but it is clear from the article that Senator Kirk, after interacting with many other stroke survivors during his post stroke rehabilitation, now has far more understanding of the need for better health care for everyone. More importantly, he reports that he now feels humbled as he goes about helping to govern. Humility, I believe, is in short supply these days.
Check out the Washington Post article, Caregiving is Especially Complicated When the Patient is Your Spouse, an article originally published in the January 14, 2013 online edition.
Written for the Consumer’s Union but appearing in the Post, the piece describes a book, The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook, by Diana Denholm, a licensed professional therapist who provided extensive care to her husband. Below are the topics that appeared in the article, but the book is far more comprehensive. The reviews on the Amazon website characterize the book as useful for any person who is providing care to a family member.
Topics in the Article
- How does caring for a spouse differ for caring for a parent?
- What’s the most important advice you offer to caregivers?
- What are other pitfalls to know about?
- When should a caregiver seek outside assistance?