Show Mom and Dad How Much You Care … With a Package!

There’s nothing quite as thrilling as receiving a package in the mail. Even if you already know what’s inside, there’s still that sense of exhilaration as you race to cut open the packaging and get inside the wrapping as quickly as possible.

Last week a friend of mine was telling me about all the packages she’d received for her recent birthday, from friends all around the country. Each gift was a surprise, and each brought her immense joy. She was stunned that people took the time out of their lives to remember her in this most thoughtful manner. This friend described to me the thrill she’d felt from the moment of finding each package at her doorstep through tearing into the package at hand.

All of this got me to thinking: What a simple tool we have within reach to bring happiness to someone we love. Why not start with our parents? For those adult children who even still may not have the easiest time communicating in words with their aging parents, a “caring package” can do the talking.

I realize that the thought of gift-giving seizes many of us with fear; but this is not so much a box of gifts as it is an unexpected package, full of thoughtfulness. Think about your mom or your dad … the best times you’ve shared together and the stories they’ve told. Think about their favorite places, trips, foods, memories … Think about your own family, the hobbies your kids enjoy, and the trips you’ve taken together. These are all clues from which you can gather. The treasures you put together for your parent can be as inexpensive as hand-drawn pictures from your children to their grandmother, or can cost as much as you’d like to spend—a plane ticket, perhaps. The point is to the ignite joy in your parents, a joy they can revisit each time they look at any of the mementos reminding them of the love and care that went into creating their packages.

Here are just a few ideas to spark your own creativity:

  • Ask your child(ren) to draw a picture of themselves, your family, the family pet, etc.
  • Take a quick family photo with your Smartphone, then print it yourself, or have it printed at your local copy store. You can even upload a batch of photos to an online photo store and have an entire photo album printed, so that Mom and Dad can keep abreast of the latest goings on at your house
  • Does Dad have a dog? Enclose a few homemade dog biscuits, or a hand-painted “man’s best friend” picture frame
  • Show Mom you remember the little things by including her favorite candies (only if she is not on a special diet, please)
  • Enclose a pre-paid card for the local movie theater, so that you can treat the folks to a movie, “on you”
  • Order and include a postcard from a place you all visited as a family when you were young
  • Create a coupon book for Mom, with coupons for a girls’ day out, mani-pedi, or just a visit twice a month
  • Write a hand-written thank you note for all your parent(s) have done for you

What if your mom or dad happen to live in the same town as you, or, heaven forbid, what if your parent is not always as lucid as he or she once was? In my opinion, parents who live close by still deserve (and love!) surprises, and as for the second scenario, this is all the more reason to send a caring basket, box or even a bushel . I’m pretty sure that the acts involved will be a helpful exercise for you, the adult child, and you never know what spark may be lit within the heart of your parent upon receipt of this wonderful gift.

I’m always here to bounce around ideas for better ways of navigating the treacherous waters of life within the sandwich generation.

All the best,


Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.

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A Lovely Match: Senior Pets and Senior Citizens

Want to know a major health risk for the elderly?


Loneliness leads to health problems that manifest in every physical way, not to mention the fact that feelings of aloneness can, over time, take away anyone’s desire to stay well.

Even your aging parent is at risk. Those of us who are currently among the sandwich generation do our best to see to our folks’ needs, but we have our own lives—jobs, children, partners/spouses, households to run—and to think that we be everything to everyone is unfair to all of us.

But this is not news.

What your parent needs is a constant companion … someone who makes the days seem sunnier, the air cleaner, the lure of a walk around the block more appealing.

You guessed it. I’m talking about a four-legged companion. Spring is the perfect time to help your mom or dad find just the right pet to love.

Scott, are you out of your MIND?” you might be thinking right about now, followed by some thoughts along these lines: “Think of the upkeep! The expense! Mom is going to want to take the cat to the vet every time it sneezes!”

How about we think of the bright side instead, and of these proven facts: pets make for good medicine. In the case of dogs, they get their owners out of the house, into the fresh air, every single day. I’ve have more than one client tell me that were it not for the comfort their “best pal” provides, they might not even have the drive to get out of bed and face the day, much less with a smile. (It’s hard to be in a bad mood when a dog is wagging its tale and acting its ever-goofy self.) Plus, it’s nice to feel needed, which for many aging people is the greatest medicine in the world.

Pets show love and adoration to their owners. They love us whether we are young, old or frail. For folks whose own health precludes their getting out and walking even a tiny dog, their loving tone and soothing hand is more than enough comfort for an indoor, adult cat.

Your parents could very well still make wonderful pet parents for the right pet, most notably for a pet in need of a foster home due to its own tragic family circumstances—perhaps the loss of its own human caregiver.

Senior animals can be the perfect match for senior citizens. There are human volunteers who devote their time to placing animals with decent caregivers. This is where you, the adult child, can put your Google-sleuthing skills into play. Check Facebook and the usual online search engines for pet fostering or pet adoption opportunities for senior citizens in your parents’ state. If you don’t find a direct match, send out queries to those you do find who happen to be in nearby states, as often, there are “angels” who are willing to drive a pet several hours to its new home. If your mom or dad has a penchant for a particular breed, join the Facebook group for said animal type. There may also be a local meetup group (found at nearby, dedicated to in-person playdates for group members—really, for the pets, none of whom drive. Think of it all as “pet networking,” realizing that someone within these volunteer networks will become aware of new situations as they arise and perhaps be able to connect you with the right channels.

No, pet care is not cheap, but here again, a little research can go a long way. One example is this organization, Pets for the Elderly, which will pay the cost of adoption through its nationally-affiliated shelters. The program, which began in 1992, has since placed more than 57,000 dogs and cats within the elderly population since that time. PAWS’ Seniors for Seniors is dedicated to bringing senior citizens together with senior dogs and cats (over age seven), at a very low cost. The Humane Society’s national homepage is but one organization that lists ongoing low-cost options for pet care by state.

These are the leads I came up with after spending just a few minutes on my own computer, seeking out keywords such as “seniors,” “animals,” “low-cost,” “fostering,” and “adoption.” Try it this weekend and see how happy it makes your own mom and dad.

If I can be of value to you and your own family, please be in touch.

Warmest regards,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.







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Look Before You Click


February 28, 2016

For as many times as I’ve discussed malware and phishing scams here on this blog, even I almost fell for one of these computer-hacking scams just the other day.

There I was, hurriedly working through my emails, when I saw an alert from PayPal letting me know that my account was in danger of being placed on a credit hold status, potentially affecting my ability to both make purchases and accept payments for invoices sent to others.

Well, I had just made a purchase using my PayPal account; that much was true. But doesn’t PayPal deduct my payments directly from my bank account, as per the settings within my account? And I know full well that there is a perfectly good credit card connected to my account as backup payment method so this did not compute for me. As far as I knew, my recent transaction had been paid for and was soon to be on its way to me.

The email read, “Contact us by March 5, 2016 at (link to email) or (link to phone), in order to avoid interruption in your PayPal service.” I took a deep breath and felt certain of the one thing not to do: I knew not to press either link. No way, no how. If this was malware, and I suspected it was, there would be no coming back from clicking through either link. That is how a virus is delivered to my hard drive.

A little more deep breathing … then I told myself that I could handle this. First, I logged into my Dropbox safely, via an open browser tab on my computer and not through any links in that email. Looking around, I saw no alerts. More important, I saw that the funds from my most recent transaction, my first overseas transaction for whatever that’s worth, had indeed been withdrawn from my bank account.

Next, I logged into my bank account. No alerts there either.

Feeling more certain that this was a scam artist at work, I looked carefully at the questionable email. What is it I always tell readers is the telltale dead giveaway of an email scammer?

Typos. Ridiculous typos and/or horrific grammatical and/or punctuation offenses.

This email only contained only one, but it was a biggie: the return email address was: Everything else in that letter was perfect, right down to the PayPal logo.


Looking back, I feel a bit ridiculous that I ever considered the possibility of this being a factual customer service request. As I have been sure to remind everyone as often as possible, large companies, particularly financial institutions, do not send emails; they send snail mail. However, we are all prone to momentary panic when it comes to our credit and our finances, and that’s how dishonest people have come to make a living off of our hard drives and our contact lists.

Sometimes, everyone needs a little talking down from that mountain. We all go there, no matter how centered, how grounded we may be 99 percent of the time. Stress wreaks havoc on our emotions and our thought processes, and there is little more stressful than running a household, parenting, and looking out for your parent’s (or parents’) well-being concurrently. If I may be of help to you or someone you know in structuring a healthy family discourse, please reach out to me.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.





























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How to Help Keep your Aging Parent(s) Nourished


Nourishment. It’s something most of us take for granted, in terms of our ability to get to a grocery store or farmer’s market at leisure, as well as our ability to pay for the food that keeps our bodies fueled. Besides, with our busy lives, it’s unlikely that we’d forget to feed ourselves or our children, spouses or significant others, right? Mealtimes are worked into a part of our daily routine.

The same cannot always be said for the elderly, unfortunately. For whatever reason, be it an inability to easily shop or drive, physical difficulties that make cooking a challenge, forgetfulness, depression, loss of income, decreased hunger due to medication, illness, etc., I think we all recognize that mealtime just isn’t the same when we’re talking about cooking for a party of one. It can be downright lonely, and so mealtime often goes by the wayside. Nonetheless, food is fuel. Here are some ideas to help keep your aging mother or father fed, fueled, and hopefully in fighting form:

  1. Grocery delivery

Don’t even ask first. That way there will be no arguing nor any embarrassment. If you don’t live in the same city as your loved one, call a delivery service and have essentials delivered regularly. Stumped? Put in a call to the manager of the grocery store nearest your mom or dad and ask which delivery service is currently available in the area.

  1. Keep it easy

Remember that people who live by themselves, especially those who are slowing down, do not generally enjoy the cleanup or the trouble involved with the cooking process. Send easy-to-prepare, nutrient-dense foods in order to make sure they’ll be eaten. (Of course, adhere to any dietary restrictions.) It’s okay to send some pre-packaged foods by manufacturers you trust, in addition to an array of packaged protein drinks. However, this nifty microwave steamer makes tasty and healthy meals in just three minutes out of your favorite fresh protein and a side of vegetables, and at this price, it’s certainly worth sending one to your own parent for a test-run.

  1. Consider hiring a personal chef

This website could be a good place to find answers to related questions and/or begin your search. (For example, this is where I learned that a private chef usually lives in with one family and serves that family’s needs in entirety, down to grocery shopping. A personal chef works for several families or clients at once, serving different and specific needs.

  1. Invite Mom or Dad along for dinner, wherever that may be

Who doesn’t enjoy getting out for a good meal? Sure, it may be out of the way, but next time you and your significant other or the family are having a meal out, don’t forget to include the person who probably gets out the least these days, your parent. Better yet, schedule a standing lunch or dinner date for yourself and your Mom or Dad. If you don’t live in the same city, utilize technology and dine together from the comfort of both of your kitchen tables while breaking bread together virtually. Sure, this may take a little bit of planning and some patience on your part initially, but soon enough your aging parent will likely be looking forward to meals once again. (I’m betting you will, too.)

Do you have any other sticky situations within your sandwich generation family that I can help you with? Please contact me so I may be of assistance.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.


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Transitioning into Residential Living


After months of back-breaking work, you’ve finally got your elderly parents out of the family home and settled into their new assisted care residence; yet something’s still nagging at you…

Ah, yes. That would be your dad, who is calling you at all hours of the day and night to complain about everything—the staff, the food, the surroundings, and especially the other residents. It’s all terrible, he says. Awful. Couldn’t be worse.

As if you weren’t already feeling enough emotion over the realization that your parents could no longer safely care for themselves in their life-long space and the fact that yes, they truly are in the late stages of life, now you can add tremendous guilt to the mix.

Don’t fret. In all likelihood, your aging parents will indeed settle in to their new surroundings. They’ll probably even flourish. This is a difficult time for everyone involved, fraught with emotion and change.

Usually, the passage of time and just a bit of hand-holding can help ease your parent(s) through this rough patch and into happier days ahead. Below, seven suggestions for transitioning Mom and Dad into successful residential-care living:

  1. Spend time in person with Mom and Dad

Making arrangements to be on hand during those first few days can be especially comforting for not only your parent(s), but for you as well. Just being available to accompany Mom to her first meal in her new residence can make a big the difference in her level of comfort. (We all remember the first day of school or being the new kid at summer camp, right?)

  1. Encourage new activities by initially joining in

This is great if you happen to live in the same city. Read up on all of the activities within the residence and start attending one. The more social and learning activity you can find within your parents’ senior residence, the more your own parents might be enticed to take part in these (and other) activities as .

  1. Tell the staff about your parents’ favorite activities, foods, etc.

This provides a nice jumping-off point for conversation as staff get to know your folks. If allowed, send some of your family’s favorite delicacies for Mom or Dad to share.

  1. Find yourself a main point of contact on the staff for both daytime and nighttime shifts Introduce yourself, even if by phone, to your parent’s main caregiver during both the day and night shifts. Ask them what time is the best time for you to call in for an update, and do so daily that first week or two (and for as long as you need). Don’t settle for a generic, “Dad’s doing great!” answer. If need be, work up the chain of command until you feel as though you’re getting reports with satisfactory amounts of information on your parent’s progress.
  2. Call your mom daily—morning and night, if necessary

Speaking of phone calls, don’t get lazy with them—an easy thing to do when you know that your parent is in a safe place and being checked on by caring staff members. A quick “good morning” can help set the tone for your parent’s day, especially when settling into a new place. Ending the day with a check-in to see how the day was, even if you know all you’re going to hear is negative-speak for the first little while, can help ease your parents back into a familiar and comforting routine.

  1. Hang a calendar, or arrange for a nurse to do so for you, with visible, scheduled dates of upcoming visits, Skype/FaceTime chats, family members’ birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other events, along with a list of telephone numbers

Your parent can be included in the family’s goings-on without missing a beat.

  1. Decorate with mementos and family photos from home

Try to engage your parent in decorating the new digs. Hang family photos and favorite mementoes within clear view. Replicate the comforts of home by bringing favorite blankets and pillows Mom had in her own home, or, offer to make things special by picking out all new bedding and accessories in a particular colorway or theme. Do the same with favorite reading chairs.

During this time, acknowledge your parent’s feelings, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. You, too, are going through a time a transition. Most of all, you want to be available for your Mom and/or Dad, but not to be there so much that they don’t try to meet new friends and work toward developing a new routine.

I’d like to help you and your family through this and any other time of uncertainty the aging process brings, and help restore a sense of calm and communication. Please reach out to me so that I may be of help.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.
















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The Four Most Unexpected Behavioral Changes in the Elderly – Is this Normal? Part IV (Final)


In parts I, II, and III of this series, we’ve explored changes in hygiene, anger, and paranoia as three of the most unanticipated changes in behavior that you may have noticed beginning to occur in your own aging parent. More than that, I offered my own opinion on when the line between “normal aging” and “time to see a physician” might be crossed in each scenario. (To read any or all of my prior posts, please follow this link.)


Today we’ll close this series with what I consider to be the fourth most unexpected behavioral change that any adult child anticipates seeing in his or her aging parent: depression. I’m including it here because it is so vitally important that it should never be ignored. (So there’s the answer to when it’s time to see a professional right there: always seek help for your aging parent who is showing signs of depression. I will provide a comprehensive list of symptoms further down in this post.)


  1. IV. Depression

I’d like to differentiate here between that which is “normal” and that which is simply under-recognized and/or under-treated. Depression is not necessarily a typical function of aging, nor should we ever settle for this way of life for someone we love. However, there is a strong likelihood of depression’s co-occurrence along with the presence of certain debilitating, long-term diseases and certain unpleasant life events, such as the death of a loved one or the social and economic status changes that may correlate with aging.

Again, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of seeking help for an elderly person who is suffering from depression. Like other illnesses mentioned in the earlier posts, this is yet another malady which impacts older people far differently than it does younger ones. In the elderly, depression increases the risk of death from other illness, is associated with an increased likelihood of cardiac disease and stroke, as well as inhibits the ability to recuperate from most any medical setback.

The good news is, unlike other medical conditions, depression is highly treatable with a combination of medicine and/or psychotherapy. Unfortunately, the older generation in which our parents came up is known for being both more stoic as well as more conscious of keeping certain types of personal information under wraps. Many seniors don’t necessarily think of depression as a health problem per se, but more of something to be “handled on one’s own.” It’s unwise to leave this particular change in behavior to the detection of others. This one is really up to us, the adult children, to detect, and to point out to health care professionals.

Some sobering statistics

Without help, depression in the elderly can take a deadly turn. Statistics on suicide and the elderly are downright staggering. Suicide among older with males is disproportionately higher than all other age demographics. Additionally, World Health Organization Studies show that approximately 70 percent of those elderly people who have committed suicide had seen their primary care doctors within just one month of their deaths.


As the primary family member and/or caretakers in your parent’s life, the burden falls on us, the adult children, to stave off any difficulties or uncertainties our parents may face, including illness. In fact, a National Institute of Mental Health study shows that intervention by close family members is key to decreasing suicidal thoughts and successfully improving depression in the elderly. That’s pretty much the magic formula: inclusion; along with professional treatment and appropriate follow up.

Signs of depression in seniors

The symptoms of depression in the elderly include:

  • Apathy/slow movement and/or speech
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and other interests
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Irritability/anxiety/worry
  • Feelings of worthlessness (worrying about being a burden, self-loathing statements)
  • Neglecting personal care and hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances (too much or too little)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increased use of alcohol and other substances
  • Changes in eating habits/weight loss
  • Sadness

If you suspect that your aging parent is suffering from depression, please don’t ignore the signs. Take your loved one for proper care. Above all, a senior who is suffering from depression needs someone who can be there to follow through with visits, phone calls, and help with medication planning and follow-through. Make sure your Mom or Dad gets out of the house for walks, visits to the library, outings to the mall, etc.

If I can help brainstorm in any way, please reach out to me.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.

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Unexpected Behavioral Changes in The Elderly – (Is This Normal?) Part III

Part III

In Parts I and II of my series on unexpected behavioral changes in your aging parent, we’ve discussed the ins and outs of both changes in personal hygiene and increasing agitation. Today we’re going to be looking into paranoia, our third unexpected change in behavior that you may be seeing in your own aging parent.

  1. Paranoia

Does your aging mother call to complain that her nurse/housekeeper/neighbor is stealing from her? Worse, does your mom even accuse family members—or YOU—of taking the craziest minutia from her home? Nothing you say can convince her otherwise. Maybe she watches her cleaning person like a hawk, following the woman from room to room, certain that this poor lady is the reason behind your parents’ diminishing window cleaner supply.

“You owe me a pill. I counted and one’s missing.” This is another common complaint from those who are slipping into the grips of such paranoia. I have a client, a working mom of two whose mother-in-law lives with the family and requires full-time assistance (such as being driven to and from all medical appointments in addition to her own errands), who’s almost always accused of either stealing, dropping, or somehow otherwise misplacing a pill between her harried drive from the pharmacy and back to the house where they all live.

Why is the mother-in-law even counting what’s in her pill bottles, anyway? What’s that about?

The truth is, the mother-in-law may or may not have even counted her pills. She may just be angry (at any and everything); she may be trying to exert some form of control, reminding the daughter-in-law that she’s always watching out for the family’s safety. Who knows? Maybe counting the pills is somehow soothing.

I’m always going to suggest a medical appointment for an older person whose demeanor has changed to this level. What needs to be deciphered, for example, is whether or not Mom believes she saw her neighbor sneaking into her home in the middle of the night to steal her houseplants (a hallucination), or whether Mom is so overly anxious about her own health, finances, abilities, etc. that she’s started to become paranoid about the world around her and is therefore lashing out with anxiety-induced accusations.

Often, some elderly folks may be helped by taking medication to help alleviate the very real anxiety that can come along with growing older. Here’s one more tip: Have Mom tested for a UTI (urinary tract infection). Simply stated, routine medical hiccups do not always manifest in the elderly in the same manner as they do in the general population at large. A physician who is knowledgeable in caring for seniors will recognize sudden onset of paranoia as a reason to take a urinalysis, which is a great deal less costly (and frightening) than a brain scan.

In the meantime, if I can be of help to you and your family during this time of change, please reach out to me so that we may start a dialogue.

All the best.


Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.

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Is This Normal? Part II

Unexpected Changes in the Elderly: (Is this Normal?)

Part II

In my last post we discussed the neglectful changes in hygienic practice that one all-too-often may notice in his or her aging parent(s), the possible reasons behind these changes, and ways to go about remedying the situation to the most satisfactory degree for all involved.

Today I’ll continue with my series, “Top Four Most Unexpected Behavioral Changes in the Elderly,” identifying and discussing our second change: anger.

  1. Anger/agitation

Getting older isn’t easy. We slow down, we often get ill, and all too often, we become dependent on others. For many, this is upsetting, and so they take it out on those around them. Additionally, there are changes in testosterone levels in men, which leads to that infamous “grouchy old man” syndrome. And let’s not forget that medications—newly prescribed and/or poorly interacting—may be playing a role in how Mom or Dad is now reacting to the daily grind. While certain prescribed medications can have tremendous implications on anyone’s attitude, the elderly tend to be on many long-term prescriptions, and may be forgetful about keeping an accurate list for each specialist. Have there been any recent changes in prescriptions? Older folks really do have a tendency to become grumpy as they age, and the reasons are as varied as the days are long. If you’re the main caretaker for your aging parent, keeping a daily journal (even making notes in your regular planner works fine) is crucial in figuring out patterns of behavior and whether or not we need to worry. (If you’re not the main caretaker, I’d still recommend keeping a journal of your interactions with your parent(s). You can call often and ask where Mom is going, how her doctor appointment was, how she’s been feeling, etc.)

Does Dad become grumpier at family and social gatherings, for example? Perhaps he’s feeling nostalgic about his life. Maybe something far simpler is at play: has he had a recent hearing check? Large social gatherings tend to be frustrating when Mom and Dad can’t make out the conversation streams around them. Or, perhaps Dad is feeling lonely or isolated after having seen a few of his close friends die. Encouraging him to join a new social group could help. See if there’s a local seniors center nearby, or look online for a meetup of people who share his same interests and who would be welcoming. Spending time alone with your father, talking one on one, could help you determine what those interests are. Maybe he is wishing he had spent more time at church or synagogue, maybe he wishes he’d seen more of the country, or spent more time fishing, etc. It’s not too late for these things! Of course, if this type of agitation becomes anything more than that, you need to take your parent to a doctor as soon as possible. Hitting, biting, excessive cursing, etc.—these are beyond the norm.

Spending this time hearing what your aging parent has to say, even if you must put up with the grumpiness, might help your family unlock the door to a simple solution for making everyone’s life a lot more upbeat. I am here to help you ask the right questions if you don’t know where to begin. Please reach out to me.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson Ph.D.





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The Four Most Unexpected Behavioral Changes in the Elderly – (“Is this normal?”)

Part I

September 24, 2015

We hear it all the time: “What is ‘normal?’”—a reminder that there’s a broad range of what’s considered to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviorally and that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others.

As a professional who counsels families dealing with issues on aging, I am here to tell you that here, at least, there are classic behaviors people tend to display as they grow older, making these behaviors on the one hand “normal,” yet in no way any less worrisome to you, the care taker, or close family member.

So today I thought I’d review three or four of the more pronounced changes you may have noticed in your aging mom or dad lately, and tell you whether or not these changes are simply typical, or ones which might indicate further investigating by a physician is necessary. However, I’ve decided instead to discuss just one change at a time during the course of the next couple of weeks as some of the more prominent changes manifested by aging can be rather heady.

And that, friends, leads us to the first unexpected change you may have noted in your own aging parent:

  1. Changes in hygiene

I hear this one all too often. “So-and-so absolutely refuses to bathe or shower. It’s become a real problem. She was always so fastidious about her hygiene, too!” It’s confusing, slightly embarrassing to discuss, and let’s be frank: it’s gross. Worse than all of those things, a lack of hygiene in the elderly is unhealthy, and that’s why this typical change in behavior is the one I mention at the top of my list as one not be ignored.

First, you may want to check with a medical professional about the norms of bathing at advanced age.  As people get older and perspiring activities are less common, a reduction in the frequency of bathing is understandable.  But body odor, oiliness, flakiness, and the aftermath of reflux and of visits to the toilet do need attending to. Equally problematic: sense of smell wanes as people age. Talk calmly to your parent and try to ascertain what’s going on here. Is this about forgetfulness on his or her part, or do you think that is Dad trying to exude some control over his own life through this apparent self-neglect? Is it possible that Mom is merely happily reliving a time in her life when dirt between the toes was a badge of honor for “flower” children?

What do you think is really going on with your mom or dad? Get out of your own head and look at things from his or her perspective. What changes, if any, have recently occurred—perhaps health- or mobility-related or even changes in residence or daily routine may have a sparked anxiety.

Make things as easy and as safe as possible for your parent. Make sure the bath or shower has been outfitted with a safe and comfortable shower chair, and that Mom or Dad can reach everything needed in order to get clean. In the end, relaxing your standards somewhat is probably the best idea. If you need to hire a nurse to come in and help make sure that your dad or mom has been bathed and put in clean clothes once a week, that’s great. Life will probably become a lot more tolerable for all involved, too.

Next time: we’ll discuss anger/agitation in the elderly. Until then, please know that I am here to help any family that is in crisis. Please reach out to me.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.

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Getting Through the First (fill in the blank) Without Mom or Dad

I caught up with a long-time client last week. After losing her mom this year she’s having a difficult time coming to grips with how to handle the fast-approaching holiday season. She has suffered an immense amount of loss in the past five or so years, having lost her husband, her father, her brother, and now her mother, leaving “J.,” as we’ll call her, with no close family except for an adult son.

“Hey, what are we doing for Christmas dinner this year?” the son asked casually one day, not long ago. Continue reading “Getting Through the First (fill in the blank) Without Mom or Dad” »

Posted in The Middle Ages | Comments Off on Getting Through the First (fill in the blank) Without Mom or Dad