You Can’t Parent Your Parent — No Matter What

I just read a touching 2013 column about supporting elderly parents, written by Washington Post columnist, Cortland Milloy.

In his column Milloy addresses the notion, so prevalent these days, that many of us are “parenting our parents.” I’ll let you read the column for yourself, but I have some firm issues when it comes to the idea of parenting parents. Bottom line? I do not use the phrase.

I believe that my parents are elders, and no matter how frail they become, they possess more experience and wider perspective than I do at my younger age. I support, help, assist, and sometimes take charge to make the occasional decision — if absolutely necessary. I consider their welfare, just as they continue, even at their advances ages, to think about mine.

Aging in the later years of life is not fun. People lose their sense of independence, their cars, their friends, their ability to make decisions, and so much more. No matter what, despite either immense physical challenges or failings of memory, we should work hard to give them credit for, to recognize, and to celebrate the well-lived lives they have led.

As for my parents? They are fragile, but if anything, they continue to parent me.

Stop Saying These Three Things to Elder Adults!

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When they speak to elderly seniors, middle-age children and and other adults tend to say things, often unintentionally, that demonstrate a lack of respect and empathy.

Sometimes it happens when a person tries to solve a problem quickly; at others the goal is to move along getting to work or school on time. Not infrequently adult children are frustrated when they need to repeat things which they have already said multiple times. Unfortunately, every time we make one of these comments, the elders in our lives grimace, sigh, or merely shake their heads, making allowances for our rudeness. We don’t mean to say unkind, disrespectful, and yes slightly nutty, things to our elder family members and friends, but we do.

As I’ve talked with elder adults that I know, I’ve discovered three phrases that they dislike hearing.               Continue reading

Can We PLEASE Stop Using the Word FACILITY?

facility defOn a daily basis I hear people use the word facility, and it’s almost always modified by the adjectives such as assisted living, nursing, and care. I’ll stand in the supermarket line and overhear a conversation between two people about moving a frail relative into a nursing facility. I’ll read an article or watch a television program, and sure enough, if an elder who needs care is involved, they go to a facility. I’ll listen to a social worker (who should know better) in a hospital tell a friend that her parent needs to be moved from the hospital into a rehab facility (and my friend has two days to pull off the move).               Continue reading

Elders Share Wisdom on Love: A Valentine’s Day Treat!

Adult children learn a lot from elder parents.

book-cover-305x450Take a few minutes to read Love Lessons From the Wisest Americanspublished over at the NextAvenue.org site and a great Valentine’s Day treat. The article, published on February 12, 2015, will help to clear up quite a few misconceptions about our aging parents.

Written by Suzanne Gerber, this piece describes research interviews with around 700 elders documenting what they say, looking back, about love and life. Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer, Ph.D conducted the research and wove it into a book, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationship, and Marriage.

At his Vimeo video website, Dr. Pillemer has posted some of the interviews. You can also visit Dr. Pillemer’s Legacy Project website. Check them both out.

Best Quotes From the Article Continue reading

Aging Does Not Automatically Degrade Decision Making Skills

An aspect of ageism is how many people seem to believe that seniors make poorer decisions as soon as they begin to age.

According to a recent study described in a Health Day article at Medline Plus, older adults performed decision-making tasks just as well if not better than younger people. Participants ranged from age 18 to age 82. The article describing the research appeared in the September 28, 2013 issue of Psychology and Aging.

Over the course of the study researchers examined responses to questions from more than 600 people, describing how they go about making decisions that required a knowledge of math skills, vocabulary, risk-taking. and financial understanding. Two types of cognitive abilities, fluid intelligence (quickness) and crystalized intelligence (accumulated knowledge) were identified.              Continue reading

Check Out Quartet — The Perfect Movie — for Valentine’s Day

Quartet is the perfect movie to see on Valentine’s Day. When I visit my parents this weekend, I will suggest that we all go and watch, and I can’t wait to see it for a second time.

The movie is about aging musicians, and the main characters are played by highly regarded and accomplished actors in their senior years. The story, about long retired musicians, is wonderfully touching, addressing in an artistic way all sorts of chronic problems and aging issues, including losing the ability to perform to the level they were used to as professional musicians. All of the extras are retired musicians — one man in his nineties — all of whom still love and enjoy their art. Dustin Hoffman, the director is 75. The credits recognize the more prominently featured elder musicians, explaining where and what they did professionally.

I cannot say enough about how good this movie is to watch, and the way it celebrates the elder years. It tackles the frustrating problems of ageism head on. Read this Quartet review in the Boston Globe.