Senior Events Dallas, TX Senior Companions | Senior Concierge Dallas, TX
Many of us in our 50’s and 60’s have parents who are now in their 80’s and 90’s. If fortunate, many are able to live independently. And of course many of us still work, have grandchildren and adult children (who evidently move in and out of their own set of issues). Catch yourself smiling at this?
Senior Outings and Senior Companionship Secures Health
So what’s going on with us? What’s the weekend like and how do we do make sure that our parents are thriving and active? For that matter, how are we? – Well, we are certainly active. And here’s what we should know about aging and especially the brain. The brain is amazingly resilient!
According to the recent studies, a brain that gets smaller and lighter with age (15% by age 80 – good grief.) The one place in the body that you might not want to be smaller and lighter, happens without much effort. But, this slim-downed brain can still function as effectively as a younger brain. That’s exciting – almost like a sense of the fountain of youth. But people have to want to drink the water. That means engagement. The brain has to create new connections between existing neurons.
What does this mean for aging parents? We know that it’s important to make time to see them. Perhaps we race in and sit down with them, inquire about what they’ve been doing, tidy up a bit, take them to eat, and make sure they are happy. What if we instead just decide to go to work a few hours later and go make breakfast or take a wonderful smelling breakfast of cinnamon rolls still warm, the irresistible crispy Applewood bacon, and mixed fruit and sit down one-on-one and talk. One of our favorite things to ask: Mom. “What is your earliest memory?” This small question is seldom asked of our loved ones but almost always interesting. “Describe your very first teacher you remember.” Or go for something totally new: What was Russia like in their school years and now?
You know many times, our parents do not want to take up our time. They do not want to be a “bother”. They see our busy lives with work, grandchildren, and the regular tasks that push us to the limits. How do we create a way for our parents to keep mental acuity? First let’s talk about certain limitations.
- Loss of ability to drive (For our generation, perhaps we really will have driverless cars)
- Decreased number of friends
- Physical slowdown
- Decrease in motivation
- Limited use of computer, if at all
- Amount of time you can manage
Now for the good part. Several studies indicate that improving memory by at least 30 percent can happen just by engaging the mind. This is probably not news to you. More likely you are thinking that it takes two to play a game if you can’t use a computer; game shows on TV are okay; learning a new skill might require outside engagement. So what do we do to help our parents? Let’s create ways to increase communication with other people. Choose one long-term activity that the parent can do outside the home regularly and just bite off the transportation cost with ride-sharing or concierge service. (Consider it like the old times of carpooling children.) Try to talk your church or other social groups into creating something totally new for older people that really stretch the brain. Some of these tried by support groups including teaching conversational French centered around fun learning at a French dinner, a trip to see Monet at the art museum or the French influence at the Dallas Arboretum.
You can also arrange with a college campus to offer a class during the day and maybe built for senior adults in something stimulating such as learning to write stories. Music and painting are great sources of courses.
And because, we cannot over-emphasize, be sure that you always spend some of the time you are visiting actually in stimulating conversation with your parent. Just like the brain development of young children, the older adult brain clearly responds to being stimulated by important and new information, albeit linked to ideas already learned. Do something more with conversations and take these conversations into the world outside. Just walk slowly (or push the chair) in quiet places, stopping and talking and moving on, while allowing your parent to give opinions or even advice. Show that you value the opinions. We think that although that some things change with the times, parents can carry the beliefs that we need to hear. If not, the person can be respected.
When we give up time that is precious, what do we gain? Spending time with a parent reminds us of things we put aside for life’s demands. We might gain back moments of satisfaction. Our experience in working with older people is we get back a moment when people were more candid and less politically correct that brings humor and even laughter. We get pomposity, sweetness, whimsy, and rich gems of truth. Mostly we get determination and a desire to see what is next well into the 90th decade. We want a piece of that!
How can you start with doing some of this? Think about what you know about your parent and what are the interests? Does your parent still have a group of friends that could be involved? Make contact with your local community services to assist you in contacting people who can help. Need some more help? Want to know more? We have a service that offers planned conversations with senior adults; however, we also offer free advice and assistance.