Happy New Year!
By Barbara E. Friesner
Did you notice the energy in the air right after Labor Day? It was really palpable here in NYC. Everyone just somehow seemed to walk a little lighter! Maybe it’s that this was such a miserable summer that people were just relieved that it was over. Or maybe it’s the start of a new year! Sure, I know people think January 1st is the start of the new year but September and a new school year always marked a fresh new beginning for me. I loved going back to school . . . . Seeing old friends; meeting new ones; new classes; new teachers; all the extra curricular activities; and all new supplies!!!
When I started working, I felt the “new school year” excitement at work, too. Everyone back from vacation and everything hurdling toward the end of the year.
But for your aging loved one, the fall can be a very difficult time. During the summer there are usually lots of people around – whether family and friends or just kids playing in the neighborhood. Activity and noise and a sense of community.
As the new school year rolls in, however, the neighborhood is quiet during the day. You are back to work and the kids are back at school – some going off to college. And after school, your time is taken up with chauffeuring duties for the after-school activities, attending games, etc.
What was before a bee hive of activity is now long stretches of quiet. Everyone is back in their “school year” mode and your aging loved one may well be lonelier than before the summer started.
Is there anything you can suggest to help your aging loved one? Yes!! While the spirit of “back to school” is still in the air, this is a good time for your aging loved one to make new plans and start getting involved in their own activities. Here are a few places to start.
First of all, sit down together and compare schedules. With your kids in a different grade in school or recently graduated, with different after school activities, or perhaps changes in your work schedule, it’s entirely possible schedules need to be rearranged and arrangements rescheduled.
In addition, suggest they:
- Start going to the senior center – if not every day then at least a few days a week to get them started.
- Start taking classes – whether in person or on line. (It may be just the catalyst they need to become computer savvy.)
- Get involved. There are all kinds of organizations and causes that need their help – perhaps a political campaign will be right up their alley!
While you’re at it, you might want to suggest “homework assignments” for them, too. OK, so homework assignments aren’t necessarily exciting (I was never crazy about homework either!!) but suggesting them in the spirit of the theme makes them easier to bring up.
For example: Suggest they:
- Change out their clothes from summer to fall/winter. Maybe even suggest they get some new “school” clothes!
- Get their medications together for Medicare Part D election
- Get started winterizing their home.
Have fun with the theme. Perhaps it will be just the ticket to get your aging loved one to make this the start of a new and exciting new year!
© Copyright AgeWiseLiving™ 2010 You can find information about how to talk with your aging loved ones in “The Ultimate Caregiver’s Success System by going to www.AgeWiseLiving.com. While there, sign up for Barbara’s free weekly newsletter. You can also contact Barbara by calling toll-free (877) AGE-WISE. Barbara E. Friesner is the country’s leading Generational Coach and expert on issues affecting seniors and their families. She is an adjunct professor at Cornell University.