The Return of the Purple Martins

Springtime….  The flowers bloom, the trees bud, and the winds swell with anticipation.  Excitement builds as the outside temperatures are allowing folks to be able to go outside – without a heavy coat!  Doors and windows are opened wide to release the “cabin-fever” and the gentle rains wash away the remnants the previous winter.

For farmers and country people, it signifies “breaking the land” in preparation of planting their gardens and crops.  It is a time of renewal.  As of St. Patrick’s Day, many have already planted their potatoes.

To me, however, the absolute sign to indicate the arrival of spring is the first song heard from the purple martin – returning from their winter’s hiatus.

“Dad’s birds” (aka: purple martins) always arrive around the same time of year, the same time when a family lost the head of their household.  Following a 21-month cancer battle, Dad lost his fight.  However, within two weeks of his death, came the return of his birds….

For all caregivers, the utmost concern is that your loved one, who is ill or aged, has the ability to have the best quality of life possible — regardless.  During those endless days of caring for their needs, a caregiver is subject to a tremendous amount of stress.  Even a trip to the bank, grocery store, or pharmacy to pick up medication is a mad dash to get back in record time.  The fear is that “something will happen and I have to get back home!”  Thus, rational thinking becomes irrational….

With that being said, it is with absolute assurance that there is a way to reduce caregiver stress — an Around the Clock Medical Alarms System.  Their EMD Certified Response Center is there 24/7, 365 to get help:  Any day, any time, any reason.  Give them a call at 573-334-SAFE (7233) or visit online at 334SAFE.com

Although many changes have occurred since the spring of tremendous loss, one constant is the return of “Dad’s birds.”  They return to welcome yet another season of life anew.  Life has challenges, but we can endure the journey — just like the birds that fly thousands of miles twice yearly to return to their “winter” & “summer” homes.

Rejoice in the past, enjoy the present, and anticipate the future.

The Gift of Your Time

The secret of aging well is exercise and eating right, as everyone knows. Right? Right! Additionally, socialization with others, especially family, is an equally important component to a long, happy life.

As we approach the season where we celebrate the most important aged people in our lives, our parents, we must realize that cards, flowers, or phone calls cannot measure or even compare to the gift of our time.

Loneliness takes a toll on our seniors. In a June 18, 2012 study by the University of California, San Francisco (USFC), it was found that people (60+) who report feeling lonely, have a 45% increased risk for death. Isolated individuals have nearly a 60% increased risk of both mental and physical decline than those who are more social. (1) These statistics are pretty dismal, don’t you think?

Quite often, elder adults live with loneliness and become isolated, because they reject socialization invitations. What a great opportunity to visit with them than on Mother’s and/or Father’s Day! Who needs an invite?

While you are at their home, make the most of your visit…. Think of ways to reminisce about the past to engage them. There are any number of ways to do things together that will combat their feelings of loneliness, depression, and isolation, which is common in the elder populous. Have a plan! Consider the following ideas to spend time with your parents:

1. Coordinate a Family Reunion

Due to the mobility of our society, many families find that their adult children move away for education or employment opportunities. This factor, in and of itself, causes people to not be able to visit as much as previous generations. As our elder loved ones age, they are doing so without immediate family living near to care for them. Capitalize on the opportunity to coordinate a reunion of the kids, grandkids, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Have a BBQ to share a meal and enjoy one another’s company! How long has it been since your enjoyed Aunt Alice’s Chocolate Pie or playing Pinochle with Uncle Rupert until the wee hours of the morning? Too long!

2. Do a Project Together

Want to learn how mom cans your favorite salsa or pear preserves? Need to get basic instructions of how dad builds those windmills for the yard, which he has given to everyone in town? Need to help them clear the clutter, gutter, or garage? Many times, our elder loved ones will appreciate the ability to share their wisdom. Others may appreciate the help to get a chore done. Many times, age and medical conditions can cause them to not be able to accomplish things as they once could.

3. Plant a Patio “Bucket Garden”

Tomatoes, potatoes, and lettuce can easily be grown in large containers on the patio. Help your parents (or grandparents) to establish this food source “hobby” that will remind them of you long after your visit.

4. Share New Technologies with Them

Many older adults are not technologically savvy. Perhaps you can help to teach them how to us an iPhone or iPad? Perhaps you can educate them on Skype or Facebook? It might also help them to learn how to operate their TV Remote — that has “way too many buttons”…

Many things that are commonplace for us, and our children, are completely unknown to our older loved ones. Let the grandkids have an active role in the education process — it will bring the two generations closer together! Plus, it generates another means of communication between you and them.

5. Follow-up and Keep in Touch

After the holidays, we return to our routine. It is easy to slip back into the “daily grind” and to relapse into the previous “day-to-day way of life.” Make a concerted effort to keep sharing your time with your loved ones. Plan the NEXT visit — Stay Connected!

If you notice changes in your loved one and they are now “alarm appropriate,” let us Help!

Remember the following jewel: “Few decisions are more important than how to care for those you love….”

(1) UCSF, Leland Kim, June 18, 2012