Taking care of your aging parents can be hard work, but there are also great joys to be experienced. Remember how lucky you are each day that you still have your mother and father in your life - when they're gone, you'll be glad of the time you spent with them in their later years and the memories you made.
In fact, it's natural to want to find some way to give back when you think about all that your parents have done for you. Use this list to get you started on creating your own moments of love and happiness.
Simple Pleasures That Take Less Than 15 Minutes
1. Just listen. Give your parents your full attention. Let them know that you value what they have to say and enjoy spending time talking to them.
2. Send flowers. Brighten their home with flowers or a plant. No special occasion is needed.
3. Share photos. Even if they're tech-savvy and check Facebook regularly, your parents would love a printout of a cute photo of their grandkids or great-grandkids inside a pretty frame. If you can't pick just one image, make a photo book instead.
4. Sing along. Buy them a CD of golden oldies. Bring back memories of their teenage years or summer road trips.
5. Dance. Get up on your feet. Try a little ballroom dancing or, if they can still manage it, a dance that was popular when they were young.
6. Experience nature. Watch a sunset or listen to chimes ringing in the breeze. Notice trees changing colour in the autumn or sparkling with ice in the winter.
7. Laugh out loud. Tell a joke or a funny story about something that happened at work. Reminisce about the silly things you and your siblings did growing up.
8. Hug each other. Touch is essential to our emotional wellbeing, but the longer we live, the less we tend to receive. Wrap your arms around each other or squeeze your parent's hands when you're coming and going.
Simple Pleasures That Take a Little Longer
1. Read a book. Read out loud from a novel or the newspaper. Pick up large print books if your parents like them.
2. Watch TV. Families used to gather around one giant device. Turn on an old sitcom or watch an old forgotten film you enjoyed as a family.
3. Write a letter. Letters are more memorable than email. Drop a letter in the post today.
4. Adopt a pet. If your parents' circumstances allow, help them find an older dog or cat to love. If not, bring your dog over to give them some affection and entertainment. Call around to see if there are therapy animals in your area that could visit them or maybe they could walk the dog of a young family that's out at work all day.
5. Work out. Take a walk around the block. Offer to locate and drive them to a senior exercise class or yoga session.
6. Eat as a family. Prepare lunch together. Sit down in the dining room or out in the garden.
7. Help with grooming. Grooming becomes trickier in the later years. Invite your mother along when you're having a haircut or a manicure. Book your father a professional shave at a barber's as a treat).
8. Clean the house. Household tasks can be challenging as you get older. Notice any areas that aren't as clean as they used to be? Maybe your parent can't handle the heavy vacuum cleaner on the stairs nowadays and would benefit from the gift of a lightweight cleaner or handheld dust-buster. Maybe they're struggling with a step ladder and can't get to the windows nowadays but the dirty windows distress them and make them feel bad about their declining housekeeping abilities...
9. Volunteer together. Show your parents that they can still make a contribution. Teach English to recent immigrants or sort food at a local foodbank.
10. Plan an outing. Fight loneliness and isolation by suggesting activities outside the home. Take your mother and father out for an afternoon at a local museum or shopping mall. Maybe your local library shows free old movies where you can mingle with other families with the same idea.
Each stage of life has its own special pleasures. Even when you and your aging parents may be struggling with your changing roles and the loss of independence, facing the transition together draws you closer.