I’ve never considered either of my parents to be elderly, but at 80-something, they certainly qualify! My father was 81 when he passed away and my mother, well, we don’t ever give away a lady’s age, right? Both of them were busy, socially active people with plans to travel and to continue to enjoy family and friends. They attended concerts, parties, family gatherings and rejoiced in their children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments. They retained their youthful outlook on life, their energy in their activities and their spunk in their personality.
It has been almost 4 years since our beloved Dad left us and our dear Mom was left to carry on alone. Only recently have I started seeing her as someone who could use some help here and there. I don’t really think of her as “elderly” because she is still quite capable and in relatively good health. But at 80-something, some tasks have become a bit more than she can easily handle. For the first time, I am getting the feeling that I should “visit” and make the most of my chats with her, as I live 2000 miles away, more than I should focus on the practical issues of housekeeping or caregiving. Not that I think that anything bad will happen to her anytime soon, but somehow, I have finally understood that every day is precious. It’s an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, to learn from her, to see the world through her eyes.
My sister got this message before our Dad passed away and spent numerous hours talking, getting to know him on a deeper level, hearing stories from his childhood and about family history. Not only are those hours irreplaceable, but she learned so much about the relatives from whom we have lived so far away for so long. She now takes our Mom out to gardens or to churches, which she loves, to quaint little vintage shops, to the town center for lunch, or to the grocery store. The last one is not Mom’s choice, but a necessity! My sister got it right and focuses on spending their time together enjoying life and doing what brings a little happiness to Mom. Having lost so much, it’s the least we can all do to help her feel alive again.
The links below have articles about quality time with elderly friends or relatives. They may inspire you to make the most of your visit with your loved ones.