When I attended my first school reunion with a family member, just a few years after graduating from college, the people attending their 35th, 45th and 50th reunions seemed really old. At a Saturday luncheon table near the back of an old-fashioned field house, we watched and clapped, somewhat wondrously, as the different classes stood to be recognized, beginning with a man attending his 70th reunion who moved around slowly with a walker.
The old observatory at the school — now a National Landmark.
Gradually the master of ceremonies worked his way from the front to the back of the room – 65th, 60th, 55th, 50th, 45th. It wasn’t until we reached the class attending its 30th reunion that the alumni started to look, well … not old. It took half-an-hour to reach our tables filled with raucous young men who along with wives and partners, had barely finished with graduate school.
My older peelers gave our aging parents trouble when they tried to hold it.
Transgenerational design is a manufacturing concept for products that are useful for people of all ages and the design also ensures that older individuals will be able to use a product even as they age and their circumstances change.
Some years ago when my husband’s mother was recovering from a stroke, she made it clear to everyone that she wanted to return to her home. My husband and I were newcomers to the aging parent support scene, so when the social worker and physicians at the hospital suggested that we give Mother a personal safety device that she could wear around her neck, we readily agreed.
When my mother-in-law recovered enough to go home, we signed a contract with a company that worked with the local hospital, and we showed her how to wear the device. She accepted it and seemed to wear it most of the time, but sometimes we noticed that she was not wearing it, especially when we dropped in unexpectedly. Over the next few months, Mother wore it less and less, commenting that she did not need it, but when we sat down to have a conversation about it, she pointed out that it was ugly. “Why can’t it look like a piece of jewelry,” she wondered. “Then I’d be happy to wear it all the time.”
Advice-giving can trip up the elder parent – adult child relationship and even cause painful divisions between parent and child.
My mother will ask me a question and the answer is fairly straightforward, but then I’ll keep on answering, advising, really. At other times, I offer unsolicited advice about one thing or another. Usually my mother listens, but it’s not uncommon for her to give me the aggravated look that she used when I was five years old and not following her directions. It’s miraculous that my parents, while momentarily irritated with me, are quick to forgive and, yes, even offer me their own advice. We trust one another, and that’s key.
I know that I should be better about offering too much advice, but it’s hard.
A thoughtful article, The Gift of Presence, the Perils of Advice, posted at Krista Tippett’s On Being website, has encouraged me to think about the advice I so effortlessly offer my mom. In his essay, On Being columnist Parker J. Palmer writes that people who need support find it considerably more helpful when we concentrate on listening and asking questions and give advice only when a person insists that we give it. I need to get better at asking questions.
This is an example of a warning. I did not have the presence of mind to make a screen shot.
Adult children who support aging parents and their personal computers need to be aware of a threat that can pop up on a computer anytime and cause major problems if a person does not understand how to handle the threat. Our parents need to hear about this potential problem.
The other day I was working on my computer, visiting the website of a noted author, when suddenly my screen turned to white and a voice repeated over and over that I had a virus.The recorded voice told me to use a telephone number that I was to call immediately to get my computer fixed. I hadn’t opened any attachment and, I was not visiting any questionable or unsavory website.
Now I am a technology geek. I’ve trained students and teachers on technology and curriculum topics for years. My computers and devices are all well-protected. But this message scared me, and even with all my training and experience, I kept rereading the message and wondering what to do. And that voice kept repeating the message…
My grandson is lucky enough to have two great grandparents — my mom and dad — and we use FaceTime so they can visit with the baby despite the 500 miles that separates them.
He is too young to understand the importance of communicating with FaceTime. Oh, he’s interested the iPad or iPhone, and he is quite curious about the black silicon tripod. When my grandson sees himself on camera, he is delighted with the images, but right now he does not really get the significance of what’s going on as we all watch one another by telephone.
On the other hand, my parents, his great grandparents, totally understand the significance of the activity. They watch him moving around on camera, eating breakfast, or playing with his toys. No matter what they are doing, they will happily drop it and sit down with the iPad if a FaceTime opportunity arises. Once online they wave (he’s just learned how to wave back — sometimes) or make silly sounds, or just marvel at how much he has grown since the last time.
Check out this delightful TV video about The Unforgettables — a chorus in New York City that includes people with dementia — that includes an interview with a physician who is conducting research about music and the brain.