Celebrate Mother's Day with an Elderly Mother
Staying Connected With an Elderly Mother
As daughters and sons move into middle age, their parents get even older. Relationships may shift from being the caregiver to the one needing care, over time.
With mothers, in particular, the change can be difficult to witness, As the elderly one in the equation, it is not easy to accept the fact that you may now depend on your own children for everyday tasks, and more. Pride conflicts with frailty. Loss of freedoms including driving or running errands can be difficult to accept. However, caring relatives will do what they can to make their mother continue to feel useful and not overly dependent. Staying connected with an elderly mother as she enters the later stages of her life starts with love and empathy.
As your mom ages, the gifts that she might have enjoyed decades ago are replaced with the joy of spending time with her children and grandchildren. Exchanging stories and passing along memories is a cherished tradition. If she cannot come to you, then bring her to your home. Technology is also available to help stay connected with an elderly mother, via a wide variety of phone and computer applications. If your parent is in an assisted living facility, caregivers are often well-versed in helping their residents with technology so they can FaceTime, Zoom or use other services to connect with loved ones virtually.
The Age 80 Milestone for an Elderly Mother
Age affects each of us in a unique manner. My grandfather lived to almost 94 (less than a month away) and was in fantastic shape until the last 6 months of his life. His memory never wavered and he was cognizant of everything around him and exactly what was happening until the last day. Because he was doing so well, he and my grandmother lived in their home until 2 weeks before his death.
Not all people fare as well as my grandfather. He knew he was unique. If your parent reaches age 80, they have exceeded the average life expectancy of approximately 77 years. Medical needs may increase at this time, and decisions have to be made whether or not to try continue living independently, or move into an assisted living facility. Things that were once easy like taking stairs and opening jars may become more difficult. Some seniors decide that it is not safe for them to continue driving. Sadly, some spouses lose their partner at this age, as well, perhaps even dying of a broken heart.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of significant changes or adjustments that may be occurring for your mother around age 80. They can be confusing at best, and even overwhelming.
Some senior citizens become depressed. Others become confused with age or even Alzheimer's Disease. As a daughter or son, you can ease the transition by being a consistent source of support and help.
Gently talking to your mom and listening when she is upset about her situation is a tremendous gift. Be patient with her, just as she was with you when you were growing up.
What Can you Do on Mother's Day for an Elderly Mother?
While it is important to stay connected to an elderly mother throughout the year, remembering her on Mother's Day can be particularly meaningful. Here are some specific ideas to show your love to an older mom on Mother's Day:
- Taking her for a scenic drive, or a tour of old neighborhoods. My grandmother enjoys viewing blooming tulips this time of year. We also drive around areas in which she raised her children, and then other areas where she grew up. This prompts discussions of what life was like back then.
- Creating a memorable scrapbook. This was a huge hit last year. We took old photographs of grandma as a young girl, as well as pictures of her as she started her family. We copied them and pulled out old recipes of hers, and put everything together in a beautiful keepsake.
- Taking her to worship. It may be difficult for her to get to church or temple on a regular basis. Help her into the house of worship and see that she connects with people with whom she is familiar.
- Asking her to help you out. Your mother wants to feel like she is still needed. Depending on her physical abilities, you can work on planting flowers in outdoor pots, or bake bread together. Tell her that you are making a stew and you need to know which spices to use. Ask her for advice.
- Following through on your promises. In our busy lives, it is easy to forget that elderly people cannot move around as quickly and do not have the commitments we do. If you tell your mom that you will come by to visit, or will phone - do so! She will be waiting and greatly disappointed if you forget.
There is no need to wait for a special occasion to do these things with your mother! Any time you can show her attention and spend time together is beneficial. Elderly mothers (and fathers) may be afraid of being forgotten, or being a burden. You can show your love through small, thoughtful gestures and by staying in touch, which may help to dispel these fears.
Will You Care for Me?
Special Celebrations for an Elderly Mother
It is not easy helping a parent through old age. But stop for just a moment and think about just how terrifying it must be for your mom. Put aside your frustrations and work on being a gentle constant on which she can rely.
If your elderly mother lives far away from you, try to make arrangements to visit at least once a year. Regular phone calls, and especially handwritten letters (enclose photos!) let her know that she is in your heart, despite the miles separating you.
Encourage your parent to remain active in her community, and if she is having difficulty getting around (and is not living in an assisted facility), then see if there are Dial-a-Ride services that can be used. Perhaps a trusted, younger neighbor can check in on a regular basis, as well.
The golden years should not be tarnished as a result of poor care and feelings of helplessness and un-worth. Take your mother by the hand and walk beside her during this period. That is the greatest way to show your love, on Mother's Day, and every other day of the year.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Stephanie Marshall