During this holiday time when families gather together to reconnect and share the love, memories, and experiences of the family unit, one can begin to imagine why now is a great time to celebrate Thanksgiving with a family member who is an older adult. First and foremost, more of us today have older adult parents with whom we can share our love and relationships. With increased longevity, more adult children are blessed to still have their moms, dads, or both still living. Nanas and Pawpaws, Mimis and Pops, Grandmothers and Granddaddys around the nation are now living longer, enabling them to enjoy the family experiences of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Proms, graduations, marriages, and the next generation of babies are enriched by the depth of the generations.
The family gathering at special occasions is fantastic, but modern technology has enabled us to remain connected to our loved ones at other times as well, even if busy schedules or long geographic distances impede a face-to-face interaction. Through technology, we can remain an integral part of each generation. I, for one, am ecstatic that I can rejoice with my grandchild from the time he rolled over for the first time to the day he FaceTimed me to share that he had just used the potty for the first time. These authentic connections are important to an older adult as well as to the next generation that benefits from supportive, extended family relationships. Connectivity can also provide reassurance to family members as new apps or smart home devices enable an adult child to monitor a parent’s safety.
INCREASE IN SUPPORTIVE HOME SERVICES
The increased number of home services available locally or online is also an asset to a family member or an adult child. If the adult child lives far away, he/she can be assured that home ownership tasks such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or simply replacing light bulbs can be accomplished by a contracted handyman. Even if the adult child is local, it is advantageous to divest many of the home ownership tasks to someone else, thus freeing up time for quality relationships between family members. I’ve often said, “You can always hire someone for the tasks to be accomplished, but you can’t hire someone to be a loving family member.”
Similar to the older adult today, the adult child benefits from the variety of choices in living situations available that today’s seniors have as they age, either in their own home or in a new location. With so many choices, an adult child can begin the conversation about what their parent(s) desires for later-life living early, rather than putting off the discussion until the only choice is a move to a health center. It is far easier to begin the discussion during a time of good health when a parent has a myriad of options rather than waiting until those options have narrowed. Crisis management is never the best option.
ENCOURAGING FORECAST FOR YOUR OWN AGING
Lastly, it is with thanksgiving that I am a family member of an older adult today because I can observe. I observe that people are beginning to pay more attention to the aging process and to the health and diseases of older adults. As progress is made, the future appears bright for my advancing years.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
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