Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eldercare Tip: To Your Aging Parent, the Written Word Has Power

Perhaps you've heard your aging parents say, "Put it in writing." You know they love your voice. But often they want to see your message written across the page.

Seniors' preference for the written word stems from many sources. Our parents' brains processing speed is diminished. So they compensate. To prod their memories, they scribble notes to themselves. To tackle technical information, they revisit words again and again. Those with hearing loss have another reason to prefer the written word. It fills in the gaps left by unheard verbal messages and opens up new horizons!

Seniors share a culture that honors reading and writing. They are among the most devoted readers of daily and weekly newspapers. Over the years, many elders enjoyed Time Magazine, Saturday Evening Post and Readers' Digest condensed books. They wrote love letters, corresponded with friends and penned letters to the editor.

How does this affect your relationship with your parent? If you're discussing new and/or difficult information, it's great to write a synopsis of what you covered. And when it comes to showing your affection, thank-you cards, birthday cards and even handwritten letters pack lots of power.

When my father-in-law was dying of cancer, friends and relatives sent cards and messages of support. And in the aftermath of his death, sympathy cards arrived. I remember many times walking into the house to spot my mother-in-law, her lap filled with an overflowing basket of cards. Reading them brought comfort.

Words. They're powerful. And writing them often helps.

Has the printed word been a tool for your relationship with your aging parent?

1 comment:

  1. Alice,
    Yes, we tend to overlook the power a handwritten note can have, especially to older folk. My dad used to love to show me the cards he received from nephews in the old country. They meant a lot to him and have become party of our family history collection. Maybe it's time I wrote my dear Aunt in Dublin.

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