By Carol Abaya, M.A.
Question: My sister,
78, has always been active in the community and has been a volunteer at
the local school tutoring young children in reading for the past five
years. She recently had hip replacement surgery and needs to use a walker,
but wants to continue tutoring. The family feels she should stay home
and relax. How can we convince her that she’s done enough for the community?
should be encouraging - rather than discouraging - her to continue the
At any age, a person
should do the things that provide satisfaction and enjoyment. Obviously,
your sister enjoys young people and gains much herself from the interaction.
Her self-esteem receives a boost as she feels she is being a productive
human being. These are very important.
My father did volunteer
work every day at his local hospital until he was 88. At 90, my mother
who also had hip surgery, was tutoring disadvantaged second graders.
If your sister can
no longer drive, find a solution - hire someone or a taxi to take her
back and forth to the school.
rather than discourage, him. Gardening and the satisfaction gained by
seeing plants grow and then eating the really fresh vegetables offers
tremendous psychological benefits.
If he can’t bend down,
have a raised garden built. Then he can easily water the plants and do
My father grew up
on a farm. The last garden he had was when he was 92. His tomatoes were
famous far and wide. In fact, we had vegetables carved into his tombstone.
We need to encourage
aging parents to do things they enjoy, and to find ways to help them do
Question: My mother
is in a nursing home, and her hands tremble a lot from Parkinson’s. She
has always loved flowers, and the staff is trying to get her interested
in gardening. I’m afraid she’ll hurt herself. Please advise.
to the nursing home. An excellent example of an activity that can be
done by an older person with any number of impairments.
help make a person feel needed and gives the person something to look
forward to. Gardening can help reduce depression and feelings of loneliness.
Even those in wheelchairs can grow flowers.
Bright colors and
sweet scents simply make a person feel good.
For those with handicaps,
the American Horticultural Therapy Association (at 1-800-634-1603) has
marvelous suggestions. They are located at 909 York Street, Denver, CO
Question: My mother
will be 75 soon and wants, as a gift, a weekend at a nearby hotel that
has a spa. She wants to relax in the sauna, have a facial and massage,
and “drink champagne.” We think she’s too old for such nonsense. Please
mother is a smart lady and you should be guided by her.
No one is too old
to feel good about herself! It’s very important that everyone, regardless
of age, look forward to and then thorough enjoy something positive
A facial helps revitalize
skin - and makes you feel good about yourself. A massage helps stimulate
blood circulation and the functioning of key organs.
And drinking champagne
and being waited on by others is just fun.
Besides treating your
mother to a spa weekend, treat yourself too. You’ll return home in a
much happier and healthier frame of mind!
Question: My mother,
78, wants to take a cruise with her “boyfriend” who is 76. They are both
healthy, but how can we convince them they’re too old to go off by themselves?
they’re healthy and mentally alert, you shouldn’t be getting involved
in the first place. It’s your mother’s business.
On the positive side,
a ship provides marvelous “protection” for an elder and is far less tiring
than other kinds of tours.
Ship staff are usually
very solicitous of older people and keep an extra eye on them. There
are always doctors and nurses on board, so if your mother or boyfriend
get sick, help is immediately available.
Once on board, your
mother can relax and doesn’t have to worry about unpacking and repacking
and meeting another bus or plane. At the same time, off-board sightseeing
can be fascinating, and on-board activities keep away boredom.
Encourage - rather
than discourage - your mother. The last long trip, which involved a 10
hour plane ride, my father took was at age 84.
Question: My mother,
74, recently moved in with us and has trouble sleeping at night. She
watches TV in her room, which then disturbs other members of the family.
We all need our sleep. Advice please.
new environment, a less active lifestyle, medications, (both prescription
and over the counter), a change in diet or eating times can all result
If she is less active
than before, seek ways she can increase general activities and exercise.
and discuss the need with her doctor. You should find a Board Certified
geriatric physician and have a thorough medical workup done. Eliminate
antihistamines because they often have caffeine. Pain killers may also
have caffeine. Reduce or eliminate caffeine, sugar, high fat foods and
alcohol, especially at night.
If she wants to watch
TV or listen to the radio after other family members are asleep, get her
head phones. An automatic turn off (timer) on the TV will turn it off
after a couple of hours so she doesn’t have to worry about making sure
it’s off before she falls asleep.
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