All posts by Stacey

On Elders and Automobiles

image from Pinterest

Our aging parents/grandparents are not as spritely and agile as they used to be, but for as long as they have good use of their physical and mental faculties, they should still be able to get behind the wheel and drive. Healthy walks are good for them (and us), but there are just some distances that need to be traversed by a vehicle, and sometimes, public transportation just isn’t available.

My folks are of senior level as well, and even if I know that my father is a notoriously careful driver, I just can’t shake the concern that with him nearing seventy years of age, that his body is a little more prone to misfiring in one way or the other. I can’t really stop him from driving, but there are a few precautions that I insist on so as to ensure that he doesn’t go out there unready for an event that might compromise his health or safety:

Towing Service/Auto Club Subscription

Changing a tire may be peanuts to a young one, but it might prove to be more exhausting for someone advanced in years. Make certain that your driving senior citizen has an active subscription to a 24-hour towing service that covers the areas that he usually drives to.

In addition to that, also make certain that the vehicle has the right tools to make rudimentary fixes on the road, just in case the towing service can’t reach his/her vehicle. Given that they can’t exert themselves too much, have easier to use; power tools where applicable. Of course, spare parts and compounds like fan belts, brake/power steering fluid, auto fuses, and of course, spare tires. Yes, it would be ideal that you stuff an extra tire in addition to the default spare. You can never be too prepared.

 

Technical Aids

There are gadgets you can add to their vehicles to help them drive safely and drive well. Along with your usual GPS (one of the less-technical, easier to read and understand models, with a clear voice), there are devices to keep them from falling asleep when on longer trips, as well as backing sensors to avoid any fender benders when parking. Medical alert systems on smartphones or as stand-alone devices would also be great.

Just make sure the aids are easy enough to use as the elders are not always savvy with current technology. Oh, and just like in the picture above, if they have glasses, make sure they use ‘em.

 

A Companion

Have a responsible adult tag along. This solution may not always be available, but when it is, insist on it. Having a secondary driver and a conversation mate will certainly make driving easier and safer for your beloved senior.

If you can, be the companion. It’s a great way to spend time with them, after all. Just don’t be too much of a backseat driver; it annoys any driver, senior or not. Still, if they have difficulty negotiating the road or the weather conditions, do not hesitate to offer to drive for the rest of the journey.

 

I wish you and your beloved elders a safe journey on the roads!

 

About The Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and still drives her mom to the mall now and then. Stacey and a group of her closest friends have a blog, Word Baristas.

Parents and their Adult Children: Staying Connected Without the Contempt

flickr.com/people/usaghumphreys

I count myself fortunate to have a complete family, and plenty of contact with them in my early, formative years. As a full-fledged adult, I still have a reasonable amount of time being with them (at least a week’s worth within every month). As with any relationship, it’s not all smooth sailing, but given long years of being together, there is always the threat of feelings of contempt getting in the way.

In the case of adult children and parents, this is further magnified by the quirks and eccentricities of getting old. This is not always the case (some people actually become more pleasant with age), but I am writing from personal experience, and the folks, though I love them ever so dearly, can sometimes annoy or even frustrate me for one reason or another.

These feelings are valid and do deserve to be expressed now and then, but you can’t let them destroy your relationship. Your parents brought you into this world, and as much as you needed them back then for material and emotional sustenance, your elderly folks need your love, understanding, and presence in the twilight of their own lives.

From mine and my friends’ experiences, here are some ways to stay in touch with your folks while avoiding any smouldering tempers and hurt feelings:


Make Use of Technology

Current communications technology offers us so many ways of keeping in touch. While you shouldn’t take out physical proximity from your list of ways to communicate, you should save those up for special occasions and those moments where you really need to sit and talk face-to-face.

A text message or tweet a few times a day can’t hurt, and many people are in the habit of making or receiving a phone call or video conference from their parent at least once every few days. You get to exchange sentiments and ideas, and at the same time not get in each other’s way.

Since you are the younger and more tech-savvy one (I’m really hoping that’s the case), you should make the effort to set up your parents’ gadgets to make the experience easy for them. Get them a reliable but simple mobile phone with an appropriate usage plan, configure their computers and other devices so they can easily contact you (your name should always be on the speed-dial/start menu/contact list/etc.), and please be patient with them as they fumble around with the technology. Most of our parents weren’t born during the digital age, after all.


Short but Frequent Visits

I found that visiting them often but hanging out for way too long keeps things fresh, and you don’t end up getting on each other’s nerves. Like I mentioned before, I visit the parental units at least once a month; they certainly won’t be forgetting my face.

I know this might not be possible if you and your folks are geographically distant from each other (or you have a crazy work schedule), so you might have to make do with video conferences and other means of remote communications.


Do Stuff Together

Don’t get bored together with your loved ones. It won’t end well, I assure you. Find an activity that all of you can enjoy doing. They’re no spring chickens (maybe you’re not so fit yourself), so find an activity that’s light on the strenuous activity and heavy on the enjoyment.

This will also give you guys something to talk about. Most kids complain that their folks talk about the same old things (like those incessant, old TV show reruns), so this will definitely give them something new to talk about.


Have Periodic Sit-Downs

No, it’s not the work stoppage variety. These are nice, long talks over coffee (or alcohol) where you and your parents talk about stuff. I actually have separate sit-downs with each parent, as there are some things I am not comfortable discussing when the other one is present.

Use this time to air out any misgivings, smoothen out misunderstandings, talk about plans for the future, and talk a bit about the past as well. Chances are, they won’t be around a few decades down the line, so make certain that there are no things left unsaid, and that even as you part ways, your memories of them will be complete.


I hope these tips help you build an even stronger relationship with your venerable parents, and just in time for the Holidays, too! Live well and love your friends and family, readers!


About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is currently preoccupied with preparing a grand family get-together for Christmas. She is still working on Word Baristas, the group blog with her friends.

Preparing Our Seniors for the Holidays

flickr.com/people/suzijane

With Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the Yuletide season just around the corner, now is the most opportune time to set the stage for warm and happy family gatherings, and that definitely includes our beloved elderly family members.

Do remember that like little children, our grand folks have some special needs that have to be met, so I’ve come up with a short list of the most essential things one needs to prepare for the upcoming holidays. With the extreme hustle and bustle associated with this time of year, it’s a very good idea to prepare early.

Stock Up on Sundries and Supplies

With all the activities lined up for the holidays, heading to the supermarket won’t be the most convenient of tasks (traffic, long lines, dwindling stocks, etc.). Remember that aside from the usual toiletries all of us use, your elders will have other needs like adult diapers and their medicines and/or food supplements.

If you can, have enough supplies to last the entire holiday season. It’ll greatly reduce your trips to the stores, and with all that time freed up, you can spend more quality moments with the family.


Prepare their Gear

Make sure they also have their accessibility and mobility devices like walkers, braces, or wheelchairs in good working order, ready for some light travel. If their equipment already has some preexisting kink or squeaky moving part, do address the issue immediately as this will certainly provide a great inconvenience if they should break down or malfunction during the holidays.

It’s the information age, and there are some key additions to a senior’s citizen’s arsenal of equipment. One of them is a handy mobile phone for emergencies and keeping in touch with the loved ones. Another would be a tablet computer, to keep them connected and have their minds continually stimulated with literature, games, and other audiovisuals.


Plan Events

Our elders need to enjoy the homestretch years, and we also need to spend as much quality time as we can with them. Have a few days dedicated to some outdoor fun, like a family picnic or a visit to an amusement park.

Do be selective, as you don’t want to end up all stressed out and hassled; that’s counterproductive to the idea of quality time, after all. Try looking for some venues that are off the beaten track (not too remote, though). The idea is to enjoy each other’s company.

Family Meals as Often as Possible

Breaking bread as a family is one of the best times to bond. If you have kids, tell them beforehand to be little more considerate and conversational towards them, and keep their table manners in check; grandma and grandpa need to know they are loved and are appreciated even at the twilight of their lives.

As a side note, do consider them when you prepare the meals. Consult their nutritionist or dietician as to what they can eat without upsetting their already fragile systems. Holidays are notorious for comfort food, and some of these dishes aren’t the best for our elders.


I hope these tips help you and your grand folks enjoy the holidays in each other’s company. Live well, and Happy Holidays!


About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is currently working on a blog with her close friends, Word Baristas.

Tech Shopping in the 21st Century: Guidelines for Seniors

It is not so much that time moves faster in our modern age, but with technology, man has become capable of doing so much more for every given second he or she has. This rapid pace, this radiant energy of activity, it affects every aspect of our lives. More than ever, people’s attentions are constantly shifted from one thing to another, with news and trends changing everyday.

The products and services that are available now reflect this. Most people demand immediacy, on-demand service, instant gratification, speedy performance, and they want it now. The expression so last year is now used on products that were released within the same year, albeit a quarter or two back.

This environment can pose challenges to people who were used to a slower, more relaxed (and arguably more ethical) pace of consumerism. Given the vast domain of what things can be purchased with currency, let us focus on electronic consumer-durable goods. Computers, television, radio, telephones, and devices that combine one or more traditional electronic gadgets or appliances. These points will help more traditional-minded individuals gain a grasp of the paradigms that are prevalent in our age.


Not Built to Last

Mostly gone are the days that things are built to last. In fact, it’s quite the opposite now. With technology improving at such a rapid pace, something you may have purchased just a few years is already on its way to becoming garbage. Given that, manufacturers probably thought that since products get replaced so quickly, there’s really no point in ensuring that they’ll last a lifetime, right? Of course, it can’t possibly hurt that you keep buying stuff from them instead of just buying once. They could also save a little money by using cheaper materials, or perhaps less materials altogether.

For whatever reason, products nowadays aren’t made to be passed onto the next generation. They’re also not made to be stored in the closet for long periods of time, only to be dug up later and used again. Citing personal experience, my parents (both senior citizens) have amassed a good pile of camcorders, cellular phones, and other electronic devices that serve nobody by being hoarded and stored. Unless you’re banking on the possibility of these items being sold as antiques later on (which is unlikely), you should be selling off or giving away these items as soon as you realize you won’t be using them anymore.


Advertising is Slicker than Ever

If advertising was compelling back then, be prepared to be duped by the methods now. Advertising is a science, and this discipline has been refined to a razor’s edge in the 21st century. I wish I could warn you of the ways they convince you to buy their product/service, but I’ll have to write up a new article just for that.

Fortunately, we are in the information age. Just as companies are able to spread their wild claims and emotion-tugging campaigns over the internet, people’s feedback and information about products and services are also available. It pays to do research before making a purchase, especially one that require a significant percentage of your finances. Don’t apply for a title loan to buy the hottest new gadget just yet; do your research and ask around! Remember: Google is your friend.


Need Over Want

This point needs very little elaboration. Stick to the primary purpose of your purchase. Extra features are nice (smartphones have a gajillion additional features and functions aside from being able to make calls and text messages), but always remember why you are buying a tech gadget in the first place. With that in mind, you won’t get (too) lost in the advertising fluff and the long lists of features and specifications. This is very apparent in mobile phones, for example. Sometimes, a simple mobile phone that can make voice calls and SMS messages will do.


Ask a Youngin

I know you’re older and more experienced in the ways of the world, but the present days are the domain of the younger people. Chances are, they do know way more about electronic consumer products, and having one at your side when shopping around for a gadget is a godsend.

Incidentally, it is a great way for seniors and young people to converse and exchange ideas and perspectives; technology should be something that brings people together, and not the other way around. With this last bit of advice, I wish you the best of luck, and have fun with your tech shopping experience!


About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is currently conspiring with her close friends in crafting a blog, Word Baristas.

Gadgets that Golden Guys and Gals Should Use

It’s almost immediately assumed that people over the age of sixty (even younger if they didn’t work in a relatively high-technology industry) to be totally out of touch with the digital world and the various paradigms that define it. This would include the very devices that are part and parcel of this technological domain.

The assumption isn’t without merit; there are a lot of seniors who don’t keep up with the times, and thus, do not fully comprehend these newfangled gadgets and gizmos. Either they cannot be bothered to update themselves, none of the young ones have the patience to teach them, or a mixture of both reasons. In any case, this is a lost opportunity that must be rectified. Technology is meant to make things easier, more convenient, and more efficient for humanity, and that definitely includes our elders.

I will identify a few choice gadgets that golden boys and girls should seriously consider familiarizing themselves with. Granted, there will be some learning involved, but the benefits of being able to use these devices will improve the quality of life and give seniors something to talk about with their younger friends and family.

Tablet Computers

Mice and touchpads aren’t always the most intuitive interfaces for those who didn’t grow up with a personal computer readily available to them. Using one’s fingers to point and press, however, is something we are inherently comfortable with.

pocket-lint.com

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

The touch-sensitive screens and the bright, crisp displays of today’s commercially available tablets make interfacing with information all the more easier. They aren’t particularly heavy (like some laptops), have very few actual buttons and moving parts, and the screen is big enough to be readable (compared to smartphones).

Game Consoles

I am not kidding. Many a senior will appreciate all the cool games one can play with a modern gaming console connected to an LCD TV. Remember that these computers are designed for a younger audience, and the controllers and other peripherals are simple and safe enough to fiddle around with or without the risk of electrocution.

cnet.com

Nintendo Wii Console

They’re a lot of fun, too. The selection of titles are rather diverse, and though Grandpa may not opt to relive his days of military service by playing some shooter, he and Grandma could always enjoy an entertaining game of virtual tennis. Obviously, this is another way for elders and youngins to play together.

Housekeeping Gadgets

There are numerous technological aids to home maintenance available nowadays. Most are designed to be simple to use and operate, while giving the owner more quality time to pursue what they truly want to do.

Admittedly, our seniors are a little less ambulatory than they used to be. Granted, they need healthy exercise more than ever, but under more controlled, safer environments and scenarios. Take for instance sweeping and vacuuming the house or apartment. It can be a bit risky for them to lift or push heavy furniture or try to get into cramped spaces. There are such handy cleaning robots that can do the work, albeit without risk to your beloved.

Mobile Phone

From a device used by the military and a key feature in expensive executive automobiles, wireless phones have become most ubiquitous consumer electronic device in the world today. It used to be just a way for people to get in touch via voice calls; now, just about all forms of data are transmitted and received through these handheld technological marvels.

mphoneguide.com

Samsung Jitterbug

Cutting-edge smartphones have so many features and functionalities, but not all of these are essential. A simple and reliable mobile phone is all one needs to negotiate the intricacies of the wired world.

A final word on teaching seniors about new technology: be patient. The world is changing much faster than it was during the years of their youth, and it can be disconcerting for some of them. Give them the time and positive encouragement to learn how to use these gadgets and gizmos properly, and you would have made their lives a tad more convenient and enjoyable.


About the Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is currently conspiring with her closest friends in making their new blog, Word Baristas.