20 things to make an elderly Mom more healthy and comfortable – or, make more than a “phone home” to an elderly Mom…
There’s this saying that offers advice that sounds so good, so simple, so loving.
It’s a saying so popular that it appears on t-shirts, coffee mugs, jewelry, pillows, wall hangings.
It passes the lips of politicians, celebrities, clergy, friends.
It was very likely mentioned long before the invent of the telephone, cell phone, Facetime and all things thoroughly modern and technological, via voice, with one simple word removed.
That word is call.
What is this saying, almost as important as motherhood itself?
Call your mother.
Oh, I can almost hear the old-fashioned versions…
Write your mother. Visit your mother.
And I can imagine the next generation’s mantra…
Text your mother.
Beam-up your mother.
It’s a kind-of command. But it’s a reminder, too. It’s what everyone knows one is supposed to do. It is one saying that resonates. It’s one that we’ve all heard, taken note of perhaps, then done something. Or nothing.
I come to this post with a very good perspective on elderly women (and men). I spend a great deal of time with my Mom at an independent living complex where she lives. I see a lot of elderly folks who drive and seem to thrive on their independence; but I see just as many who struggle with simple tasks.
I’m not here to lecture or judge (well, maybe nudge), that’s for sure, because I have no way of knowing what very unique relationships exist between individual Moms and children; but I do know that there is more to being elderly than calls from their children. There is a laundry list as long as my arm of things that an adult child can do to help an elderly parent. Here are some of these:
1. Food shopping
a. helping pack, carry, unpack grocery bags
b. check food products for expiration dates
a. check with physicians
b. keep lists of updates
c. fill medication containers
2. Appointment transportation
a. help check/balance accounts
b. just be quiet company
4. Fun/Entertainment ~ Dinner out/Visit with the grandkids & great-grandkids/Movie Theater/Play/Concert/Ice-Cream Sundaes/Manicure-Pedicure treat/Department store Shopping Spree
5. And SO Much More
But I’m not talking about the bigger things. I’m talking about simple, everyday things that can become complex and complicated to an elderly person; things that may take under a minute or two for you or me to accomplish, but that leave your Mom flustered and frustrated, and sad, even. Here are some of these:
1. Unscrew that decorative thing off the top of a paper towel holder and replace a roll because it’s crazy hard to get that thing off and screwed back on.
2. Buy a cache of easy-to-open food storage containers and zip-bags for lots of the below.
3. Open cans of tuna, soup, vegetables, etc. and transfer the contents (above) to easy-to-open food storage containers – often. Can openers are a bugger to use.
4. Peel and separate oranges/tangerines/grapefruit, etc. and store in containers/bags.
5. Wash and slice/chop apples, strawberries, peppers, cucumbers and other favorite foods and store in those handy-dandy containers and bags.
6. Buy a couple of boxes of tall kitchen trash bags every once-in-awhile just so Mom can empty her trash often; and better yet, take out her trash and recyclables often.
7. Noted above under medications, but a simple thing to do to ease your Mom’s mind, fill her medication containers. This is as important, if not more, than keeping her refrigerator and cupboards filled with good, healthy, easy-to-access food.
8. Change her linens.
9. Clean out her refrigerator twice a month.
10. Pull those little ring-things off milk/cream cartons. They, too, are a bugger to remove.
11. Open twist tops on olive oil, salad dressings, condiments, juice containers, etc. These, yes, are a bugger to open.
12. Make sure Mom has enough clothes hangers with which to properly hang clothing (eliminate clutter and need to iron).
13. Fill ice cube trays and replace light-bulbs.
14. Supply Mom with an “office”-type table organizer for pens, pencils, stamps, note pads, sticky notes, grocery lists, tape, envelopes – and re-fill.
15. Update Mom’s address book and store it in above organizer.
16. Supply “Thank-You” notes and generic birthday/other occasion cards to store in above. Moms do not like to overlook special occasions.
17. Supply gift bags (different sizes) and tissue paper (different colors) for easy gift-wrapping. Store in a large gift bag for recognition.
18. Subscribe your Mom to a local, delivered newspaper. Pay for it.
19. Help decorate for seasons/occasions/holidays. Label and store decorations in under-the-bed containers.
20. Call your mother.
And do YOU have any suggestions to add this small list?
All of the above and 100-fold more do not replace, for one second, hearing your voice.
Sure. Call your mother. By all means, please do. Our voices are magical and poetic and comforting, even if we’re in the biggest hurry to get somewhere and can’t talk long. Even if your Mom rails at you for not calling enough, or begins to cite every activity of every friend she has… or recites a laundry list of things that you MUST do for her. And soon.
She loves your voice.
20 simple, easy, inexpensive (or free), loving things to help your elderly Mom be just a bit more comfortable and healthy in her daily life and activities.
But never, ever lose sight of that mantra: CALL YOUR MOTHER.