First published in March 2018, updated on April 8, 2021
It is better to show you care than say ‘I care’
-Lailah Gifty Akita, Pearls of Wisdom: Great mind
Playing chess, talking about the weather, listening to lectures about the distinct mindset of the modern generation – such a drag! Forget about all of this. From here on, you’ll be the owner of the most exciting list of activities you can share with your senior parent.
Ask your parent to draw out a family cookbook and take turns picking the most attractive recipes for baked goods, which your parent may have cooked for you so many years ago. It’s high time for you to get to know your family heritage.
After your treats are ready, choose a movie to watch together while savoring your culinary masterpiece. It’s better to enjoy a film from when your parent was young. Your old man will enjoy seeing “Citizen Kane” or “Casablanca.” Your mom will be thrilled with the chance to share “Gone with The Wind” with you.
Yeah, yeah, another piece of advice concerning food. Food connects people and makes any event better! So, one more idea on how to spend an excellent evening with your senior parent is to get away from your cozy warm house and set up camp somewhere in the woods.
Light a campfire. Later in the evening, prepare hot chocolate and look at the constellations in the night sky, trying to call to mind the names of at least some of them. Such an atmosphere perfectly sets the stage for heart-to-heart talks and restores the parent-child connection.
Positive emotions are essential for longer and happier lives!
You might say, “hey, this is similar to chess!” However, with this activity, all family members can participate. Switch on the radio or a TV show everyone enjoys in the background. Choose the biggest puzzle you have, sit around the table, divide all the pieces into colors, and go ahead with the fun!
By the way, this game can be quite beneficial for your aging parent. After all, it’s not only exciting and entertaining but also useful for memory improvement. Another way to improve the older adults' cheerfulness and energy level, read this article.
Many of us begin to value the memories of our parents only when it’s too late to ask the right questions regarding family history, distant relatives, or even some family skeletons in the cupboard. With this in mind, do not miss your chance to learn more about your family history. For instance, you may find out that you have Indian blood, or your great-grandmother was a Russian aristocrat.
While you listen, do not be too lazy to write down all the names, dates, and places regarding the most outstanding events in the history of your family.
There is no more unifying activity than mutual learning. It can be anything you and your parent both like. For example, easy yoga – with this you can facilitate the physical health of you both, as well as feel a flow of positive energy while you exercise. These classes should be entertaining, without putting a lot of strain on the body. In the end, such an activity can become a mutual hobby to talk about and visit together.
However, what can you do if your senior parent is no longer able to walk, or perform any kind of strenuous exercise? In this case, you should choose something that’s not backbreaking, but rather is calm and simple. For instance, flower pressing.
Gather the flowers, you think your parent will like. Choose the heaviest books you can find that aren’t valuable, because the books absorb moisture and it can damage the pages. Sit together with your loved one and let him/her run the show. Do not try to do the whole job, instead, give your parent the chance to do everything.
When you visit your mother or father, perhaps you already have the tradition of opening an old photo album, first, with their photos from childhood, then with yours, and everything ends with tears of nostalgia for the past. We do not have anything against old memories or this ‘sweet’ feeling, nevertheless, we are sure that it is better to find a way to smile. That’s why it is a good time to revamp your family photo album, and add totally new photos and thus new memories.
You can make this by yourself (thank God, we have smartphones and front-facing cameras). Or you can pay a professional photographer to take perfect photos and preserve the twilight years of your loved one.
And while apart, make sure to continue the conversation over the phone and with frequent messages. Consider an unobtrusive way to check in on your parents like, for example, an inactivity monitoring safety app for seniors living alone. This will grant you both peace of mind as you’ll know that all’s well.
Remark: The feeling of time is erased while we run through life. The members of Generation X are turned into universal soldiers where their job, constant learning, friends, and “just do it” mentality are our everything. Don’t you want to stop for a while? Remember who you are, turn the steering wheel and set off on the road to your hometown. And don’t forget to call your parent and say “Mama, I’m coming home.”