Taking care of your aging parents can be hard work, but there are also great joys. Remember how lucky you are each day that you still have your mother and father in your life.
In fact, it’s natural to want to find some way to give back when you think about all that your parents have done for you. Use this list to get you started on creating your own moments of love and happiness.
Simple Pleasures That Take Less Than 15 Minutes
1. Listen closely. Give your parents your full attention. Let them know that you value what they have to say.
2. Send flowers. Brighten their home with flowers or a plant. No special occasion is needed.
3. Share photos. Even if they check Facebook regularly, your parents would love a printout of a cute photo of their grandkids inside a pretty frame. If you can’t pick just one image, make a photo book.
4. Sing along. Buy them a CD of golden oldies. Bring back memories of high school days or summer road trips.
5. Dance around. Get up on your feet. Try a little ballroom dancing or the twist.
6. Experience nature. Watch a sunset or listen to chimes ringing in the breeze. Notice trees changing color in the fall or sparkling with ice in the winter.
7. Laugh out loud. Tell a joke or a funny story about what happened at work. Reminisce about the silly things you did growing up.
8. Hug each other. Touch is essential to our emotional wellbeing, but the longer we live the less we tend to receive. Wrap your arms around each other or squeeze your parent’s hands when you’re coming and going.
Simple Pleasures That Take a Little Longer
1. Read a book. Read out loud from a novel or the newspaper. Pick up large print books if your parents like them.
2. Watch TV. Families used to gather around one giant device. Turn on an old sitcom.
3. Write a letter. Letters are more memorable than email. Drop one in their mailbox.
4. Adopt a pet. If your parents’ circumstances allow, help them find an older dog or cat to love. If not, bring your dog over to give them some affection and entertainment. Call around to see if there are therapy animals in your area that could visit them.
5. Work out. Take a walk around the block. Offer to drive them to senior exercise classes at the local Y.
6. Eat as a family. Prepare lunch together. Sit down in the dining room or out in the back yard.
7. Gussy up. Grooming becomes trickier in the later years. Invite your mother along when you’re having a haircut or a manicure. If your father prefers privacy, buy a kit so you can give him a cut and a shave.
8. Clean the house. Chores can be fun. Agree to vacuum the living room if they’ll treat you to cookies and tea afterwards.
9. Volunteer together. Show your parents that they can still make a contribution. Teach English to recent immigrants or sort food at a local pantry.
10. Plan an outing. Fight loneliness and isolation by suggesting activities outside the home. Take your mother and father out for an afternoon at a local museum or shopping mall. Maybe your local library shows free old movies where you can mingle with other families with the same idea.
Each stage of life has its own special pleasures. Even when you and your aging parents may be struggling with your changing roles and the loss of independence, facing the transition together draws you closer.