For the last couple of months, my sisters and I have found ourselves moving into a new chapter of caring for our mom. She will be turning 80 this summer and is faced with the need for a hip replacement. Like all surgeries at this age, I’m sure there will be some hurdles, but none that can keep her down. The upside to better mobility is all good.
Spending more time at home and observing the world around her, I realized that older people have certain tendencies to slowly lower the quality of the life they have. I’ve seen this with my in-laws and many other older people and I have decided to create a new rule book for aging. Just becasue we age, doesn’t mean we need to settle for less or make the world around us feel old and tired. So here are my rules to keep life fresh and fun, for older people and the people who spend time with them.
I have looked at the same dinner plates in my mother’s home, literally for decades. There’s a saying about not showing your age. But if the dishes
and glasses are chipped, stained, no longer have their luster and are mismatched, you get the sense that someone has given up. It’s the old “let’s use what we have mentality”. You don’t have to spend a fortune (I know they live on limited budgets) to refresh your everyday dishes. A full set of new dishes and glasses will brighten anybodies day and it doesn’t have to be done often.
Television console and stereo units not only take up a lot of space, they don’t let you leverage and enjoy newer technology. Grant it, I can’t use all of the buttons on my remote but there are some manufacturers who have risen to the fact that simplicity can sell. Having your grandchildren over to watch a movie on what they think is “antiquity” screams old and tired. When its time for a special gift or you just want to treat yourself, push those old units to the curb and make the most of your entertainment time.
Upgrade your Mattress (and linens)
No wonder older people have back aches. If I had to sleep on some of those mattresses, I too would be in pain. If a mattress in the house, not just the master bedroom, is more than 15 years old(and I am being kind), throw it out. Everyone deserves a good night sleep and a return visit. Remember to get new linens while you are at it.
We all own some classics but your entire wardrobe can’t stay stagnant. A few pieces here and there can brighten your wardrobe and signal to others that you still care about how you look. Remember that great line form Saturday Night Live…It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look! If you don’t spend the money while you are living, someone will break the back for the final outfit on your last day. Don’t let that be your last investment in fashion!
Safety Over Pride
No one wants a cane or a bath rail. But if it will keep you safe and out of harms way, just do it. The break of a fragile bone is hard to recover from and the objective is to keep moving. Too many studies have proven that once mobility is affected, it is a downward spiral.
Who Can you Trust
Some of us are more talkative than others and want everyone to know what is going on. Other’s, like my mother, shares very little about what is going on. I’m not sure its part of the pay back from my youth when I withheld information from her (information that would have gotten me grounded I must confess), you need to think about who is your go to person or people. Don’t wait for the emergency to figure tat out. Sometimes the wrong people make calls on your behalf that may not follow your plans.
Wanting to stay close to home is the answer many of us get when we try and coax our parents to visit. I say if you can make the trip, do so. Getting away from the house can be good medicine. The pat down at the airport may be a welcome surprise!
Please know that I am fully aware that some of these ideas cost money and not everyone can afford it. But if they can, or have families and friends who constantly beat their heads on the wall trying to come up with a gift idea. Let them know what you want. I remember visiting my grandparents and now my mother and see how depressing some of these old things can be. Family heirlooms are not what this is about. It’s about everyday living items that can evolve over time and keep you connected in the century you are living in. What are some of your aging rules?