Archive for the ‘Sandwich Generation’ Category

Experiencing the Grief of a Lost Parent

Experiencing the grief of a lost parentWhen my father passed away due to the progression of his Parkinson’s disease, it was a difficult time—a time of grief and loss, a time of sorrow and pain. Yet, it wasn’t the beginning of the grieving process.

The grieving process had probably started a couple of years earlier when he had a major “dip” in his health, and we thought we were going to lose him. He got better, though never quite as good as before, and I tucked the grief away in the back of my mind.

It came out in June two years later. He again had a major health scare, and though he got a bit better, he decided it was time to accept my offer of moving in with me. My home is big and was built with this possibility in mind and our multigenerational family worked well together. Yet his health never quite returned and in November, he was placed in hospice. That’s when the real grieving started, although there wasn’t much time for it. Between helping my mom care for my dad and helping one of my daughters with a difficult pregnancy, I was on the run constantly. For me, prayer, meditation on Bible verses and occasional brisk walks were a major help in getting me through this difficult season of life.

We made sure all his family and friends knew about his health situation, and we worked out ways for all who wanted to come and visit while still protecting him in his frailty. We oversaw short visits and long rests, and we enjoyed taking turns visiting with all who came. This was a big help to my mom and me, of having that loving support during this difficult time.

By the time my father went to be with the Lord, he had faded so much and had such a difficult time, we knew he was so much better off that we couldn’t wish him back no matter how much we missed him. That was actually a help to us; as hard as it was to go through hospice, it helped all of us through the grieving process. It gave everyone a chance to visit one more time and enjoy seeing his look of delight shine through the Parkinson’s mask his face usually wore.

After my dad was gone, I turned to, which had been such a help to me when I lost my husband a couple of years earlier. Their daily emails helped me as I worked through the grieving process. I’ve recommended them to several loved ones, as well as on my blog, and continually hear how their emails have encouraged others.

I also made sure that my mom and I kept talking about my dad to each other, to the kids and the grandkids. This was as much for our sakes as theirs.Honoring your loved one's legacy We wanted to share his loving legacy with them and we wanted to keep remembering him with love. I think that treasuring special fun traditions can be a big help as well.

I remember the first time my mom and I spotted a penny on the ground. It thrilled my dad to find a coin on the ground. He collected them for years. Even after he quit his official coin collection, he never could pass a coin of any kind without picking it up and sharing it with whoever was with him. When we saw that penny, I told my mom it was a hug from dad. You should have seen her smile. We have continued that sweet tradition to this day— almost 10 years later.

Some other tips to help you deal with this grief you may be feeling for a lost parent:

  • Know that grief is normal
  • Give yourself permission to cry
  • Give yourself permission to not cry
  • Give yourself permission to grieve as you prefer to grieve

Some people sit and mourn. Others, like me, do better working busily, helping others, and praying privately at a later time.  Don’t worry if you don’t do grief the same way as another loved one. There’s no right or wrong way. I found it helped me to say yes to people asking to take me out or to call a good friend or two and go out for a light lunch and conversation. It helped me to focus on something other than what was going on, even if just for an hour or so.

A support group can be an excellent help for many. You can find one through, through your church or through a local hospice group, even if your loved one did not go through hospice. The has a few other suggestions as well.

Realize that if your grief has turned into a debilitating depression, including thoughts of self-harm, you should seek out professional help immediately.

There are no guarantees in life. But I can tell you that—from my own experience, and that of so many whom I’ve talked to over the years— the grieving process becomes easier. Not fast, not necessarily easy, but as the years went by, each year was a little better. My mom and I both still miss my dad very much, but we enjoy talking about him with the grandkids, picking up those “penny hugs” from him and looking at his photos. We still mist up on occasion, but for the most part, we are doing well.

Written by senior living writer Kaye Swain

Senior Discounts: Are You Missing Out on Savings?

65 is the new 35! Isn’t that grand. What our grandparents used to dread we can now look forward to. We’re “in” – we’re “cool” – AND we get all sorts of goodies when we turn that magic age. Of course, Social Security and Medicare are ones we all know about. But have you heard of some of the other great freebies just waiting for seniors? Here are a few options to think about – and apply for, when necessary.

1. AARP – This is definitely a BIGGIE – the grand-daddy of senior discounts, if you will, for just $16/year. You qualify for their discount card at 50, which opens the door for a TON of great deals. My favorite is at Walgreens. I registered my card with them and now I get coupons automatically on my receipt. That always puts a big smile onAARP my face. Before we moved, we used to get a hefty savings at the optometrist we used in Virginia because of AARP. I have several hotel frequent-stayer cards and my favorite is with Best Western as they combine it with AARP to give me great discounts. That’s such a big help when visiting the grandkids! Many restaurants offer discounts if you flash your AARP card including Papa John’s, Carraba’s, Outback, and Denny’s (which normally only gives senior discounts if you are over 55).  I just wrote a long distance senior that her beloved Schwann’s has an AARP discount plan. Toys “R” U, Babies “R” Us and Michael’s Crafts all offer a discount. Plus AARP provides you with a printable discount card for prescriptions. And the list goes on…and on…and on. It’s well worth your while to head over to their website and spend an hour or so perusing all the various places that offer a discount to those of us fortunate enough to qualify for this excellent discount card!

2. Restaurants – Did you know that many restaurants actually start giving the senior discount early? As I mentioned above, Denny’s gives the senior discount to those 55 and over as does IHOP (International House of Pancakes), Arby’s, and Chili’s. At 60, many KFCs will give you a free drink or a side dish (I confirmed that with my local KFC in Lakewood, Washington. Others may just do the drink) and McDonald’s will give you a free regular drip cup of coffee. Many of the Applebee’s offer a Golden Apple card giving discounts at 60. Golden Corral also starts their senior discount at 60. Once you hit the magic age of 65, you will find plenty more including one of my special treats – Boston Market.

Senior Discounts on Travel

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3. Travel– My favorite airline, Southwest, offers senior discounts for travelers over 65. And the best part, for me, is that those tickets are fully refundable. That’s very handy, especially for those of us caring for elderly parents or grand kids with health issues, as our trips may need to be cancelled at the last minute. United Airlines and other airline companies also offer senior discounts but only to some destinations. If you don’t want to fly, Amtrak and Greyhound offer discounts that start at 62. For any of these though, I would definitely compare prices. Even with Southwest, if you don’t need the luxury of non-refundable tickets, sometimes their sale prices are cheaper than the senior discounts. So do double-check.

4. Hotels – Don’t forget those hotel discounts. Most hotels offer senior discounts in addition to AAA, AARP, and military. It can definitely pay to check all the discounts you qualify for and pick the best one.

5. Amusement Parks – Some amusement parks may offer senior discounts. Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California offers a senior discount, as does Kings Dominion in Virginia (a favorite of my grandkids). Most parks, though, do not seem to offer senior discounts.  You can, however, purchase discount tickets from many through your AARP membership site.

6. Shopping – Many stores offer senior discounts at varying ages. Sometimes they are limited to one day out of the week. Our local Kroger offered a senior discount on Tuesdays. We were rarely there on Tuesdays, but when we were, my sweet mom’s face would light up when she realized she had gotten an extra discount.

The bottom line: There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of senior discounts out there. Being proactive and asking “Do you offer a senior discount?”, and you might just discover a new one! While you’re at it, if you have the AARP card, also ask if they offer a discount for AARP. You may have to choose between AARP or a plain senior discount, but that’s the kind of choice I like to make. How about you?

Written by senior living writer Kaye Swain

10 Great Places to Retire: Part 2

Are you ready to see my top 5 places to retire? As I said in part one, you might be surprised by what I pick for number one.

5. San Diego, California – A gorgeous town with excellent weather overall and easy access to a wide variety ofIndependent Living in San Diego, California beaches. Not to mention plenty of fun and interesting places to visit. It’s a great place to help boomers and seniors stay active year round. On top of all that, people rave about the various restaurants they love to visit. You’re close to sight-seeing pleasures in Mexico, and what fun to be able to visit the San Diego Zoo and Sea World easily.

4. Honolulu, Hawaii – My parents spent ten years right in the heart of Waikiki when my dad’s Parkinson’s Disease started to progress. In Hawaii, he was able walk miles each day as well as play his beloved golf. They lived just minutes from the beach and thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything they needed was within walking distance. We are still convinced that living in the lovely state of Hawaii with grand weather daily helped him stay as active as he did for over 20 years from his initial diagnosis.

3.  Los Angeles, California – Want to know what my favorite thing in L.A. is? Olvera Street.  It’s a popular tourist attraction with several restaurants and tiny shops full of fun and historical delights from Mexico.  They have the best taquitos in the world at the very edge of Olvera street at a teeny tiny place called Cielito Lindo. Many people, like my own family, have been visiting this delicious spot for decades – some of us over 50 years! I don’t have the energy to want to make the long drive there anymore so settling close to that along with all the other delicious restaurants L.A. is famous for would be grand. Not to mention all the intriguing opportunities for tours and sightseeing. The beach and the mountains are just an hour or two in each direction. Oh yes! Los Angeles is definitely on my top-10 list.

2. Sacramento, California – I love both Sacramento and Placer Counties. There are so many interesting things to see and do nearby and within a couple hours of driving. From ocean fun in San Francisco to mountain sports, not to mention several great golf courses, good exercise opportunities abound. Sacramento, itself, has the most intriguing neighborhoods with little delicious restaurants tucked away in fun spots. And there are plenty of malls toIndependent Living in Seattle, Washington keep us busy shopping and eating deliciously. For history buffs, Old Town Sacramento and Fort Sutter are always a treat not to mention the Capitol building and its surrounding area.

1. Seattle, Washington – I might be a bit prejudiced on this one since I am living in this area, but Seattle truly is a lovely locale. I am thrilled that I can’t go more than a few miles in any direction without seeing the glistening of the sun off the ocean, the Puget Sound or one of the many creeks and lakes that abound here. Mt. Rainier is gorgeous and can be seen from so many areas. It’s a real sight for sore eyes! There are hiking trails all over, including very easy ones. has a list of several that are even wheelchair accessible. Each city in the area has its own “personality” and there are so many unique places to eat, I doubt we’d run out of new places to try. And oh my, what fun to ride ferries and whale-watch!

After creating this list, I realized that the locations I daydream about the most generally have delicious food, good weather overall, great places to visit and take visitors to, and fun destinations to shop. Now that you’ve seen my list of the 10 best places to retire in the United States, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree or have other ideas? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Written by senior living writer Kaye Swain

10 Great Places to Retire: Part 1

Have you been thinking about retirement? Are you wondering where you’d like to retire? I’m staying busy as a real estate agent and loving it, but ever so often I do find my mind wandering to think about all the various places in the U.S. that I’ve enjoyed living at or visiting. It is in these moments that I wonder where else I might like to settle down someday. While daydreaming about that this week, I came up with some fun ideas for 10 of the best places to retire in the United States. Here are the first 5. What do you think about them?

10.  Virginia Beach, Virginia – We lived near Virginia Beach for several years and really enjoyed our time there. The beach is gorgeous!Independent Living in Nashville, Tennessee The weather was fun. And there is plenty to do in each direction. Not to mention the fact that there are some delicious places to eat at including some of my favorites like Panera Bread and P.F. Changs.  My senior mom and I really enjoyed meandering around the quaint little stores that are close to the beach itself. It’s also close to North Carolina beaches, as well as historical sightseeing opportunities in Yorktown and Williamsburg.

9.  Louisville, Kentucky – Louisville and its surrounding neighbors – including our favorites, Elizabethtown and Radcliff – are full of warm-hearted people. We resided in Elizabethtown for several years and got to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of living in a small town in the country. But what fun when we could go into the big city of Louisville and visit a variety of interesting places including the Louisville slugger museum, drive along the Ohio River, shop at the grand malls (my senior mom’s favorite), and find new and intriguing places to eat. So many interesting things to see and do there, but you still have the country right next door.

8.  Nashville, Tennessee – If you’re into country music, country vistas or just plain nice folks, Nashville is a lovely place to visit and to live. I’ve visited there several times and always enjoyed the people, the scenery, and the interesting things and places to explore. It’s truly a beautiful area and has an airport right there to whisk you off for travel or bring friends and relatives to visit.

7.  Miami, Florida – I love the beach, you’ve probably already guessed that since several of these locales are in orIndependent Living in Miami, Florida near beach cities. More importantly for me, I have friends who live near Miami and my grandkids have visited the area and will again. All of that put together makes this part of the country a top contender for this particular dream list. Especially on those days when the thermometer tells me it’s close to freezing outside. I could really appreciate Florida’s average winter temperature of about 76 on those days.

6.  Yuma, Arizona – My sweet mother-in-law lived in Yuma, Arizona for years and loved it! She really enjoyed the warm weather that was NOT accompanied by humidity, making it a great fit for her. In the winter, the temperature can range from 46-70. Summer can have some triple digit temperatures but it never bothered her. She made good use of her air conditioning and relished the clean air and the good friends nearby.

Come back tomorrow to see my top 5 places I dream about retiring to! You might just be surprised what I pick as my number one.

Written by senior living writer Kaye Swain