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My mom passed away in April 2015. In June, my father moved from TN to our home in Maine. He'll be 90 in a couple of weeks. Other than his hearing (2 hearing aids from VA) and having slowed down quite a bit since Mom's passing - he was her caretaker - they had been married for 64+ years - he's in really, REALLY good shape. No meds, no major health problems, no ambulatory problems. He decided to give up driving since coming here (which I'm okay with). My husband and I work weekdays. We've had a beautiful summer here & per HIS request, Pop has done some outdoor work and even mowed part of our lawn a few times (we bought a self-propelled mower & the front lawn is totally flat). He caught on how to use the cable TV system, I bought him a number of books on WWII, subscribed to National Geographic Mag, he putters in the house (laundry and breakfast dishes)...we even just found a wonderful companion dog: 2 year old Honey- a Cockapoo who is absolutely wonderful & loves Pop. We go out as often as possible with Pop - and Pop & I have a weekly errand run together on Saturdays (the farmer's market, grocery store, etc.) which he seems to enjoy - especially the routine of it. My sister & I plan to take him on a week-long trip to Florida in November (but that's another story)...BUT my reason for writing is this: I'm really worried about how he's gonna fare this winter when it's too cold to go out for him and he starts feeling cabin fever. What suggestions do folks have to help keep "Pop or Mom": from having long, boring days? He doesn't play cards, our Senior Center just closed down and he won't go near a computer. Any ideas? I know that part of his "boredom" has got to be the enormous grief he must be feeling due to the loss of Mama & moving to Maine - and I can't take that away. But would like some good ideas for setting him up for a few more interesting hours during the day. Thank you.

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Is there a place in town for him during the day to volunteer? Maybe the local museum, library, pet shelter or YMCA? He sounds like he's always been someone who gave himself to a good cause and it means a lot to him to stay engaged with people.
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Passport for Wellness. This program is at my mothers facility and they just love it.....I copied their wording from a flyer I have from them.
Introducing an online streaming experience that has changed the way transitional care providers and assisted living centers approach wellness programs. Designed specifically for seniors, this innovative approach takes patients around the world-providing physical adventure and challenging brain function-just by hitting play.
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Thank you for your kindness GA! I cannot tell you how wonderful it is that I stumbled onto this website...I don't feel so isolated. Although I'm in the right age group (55) only a couple of my friends have elderly parents they are close to,,,but very different circumstances as neither of them have a parent in their home - I do count myself very lucky that Pop is still in pretty good shape.

But I'm sure you know how it is...I worry,,,,a LOT.

I will admit that I'm sitting in the living room right now sweating due to the woodstove. We used to tease my grandma and my mom about being cold when it was 90 degrees outside....I guess it's not just elderly ladies!

Great idea! I'll see if Pop is interested in baking with me - so far he's been great with the supervision part (tells me to add oregano to everything...lol).

I take it you're a military daughter, too?
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You're also a military daughter and certainly show the forward thinking and preparedness of one!

Mid-30's already? Brrrrr. I'll bet your Pops is already shivering.

Something else you can do is let him help you with the baking, which is already on my mind as I think of the cold temperatures. He can especially help with bread, if you make it homemade. The exercise he gets probably would enable him to do a great job at punching down homemade bread. And to me there's nothing like the fragrance of bread rising and baking on a cold day.

BTW, welcome to the Forum.
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Thanks again to all - I'm making notes! Pop was in the UDT in WWII and a paratrooper in the Korean Conflict. After he left the service, he was a career letter carrier. Yup - I'm the mailman's daughter!

So Pop is a pretty tough old fella - still lifts weights and exercises 5 days per week. He carefully watches what he eats - oatmeal with blueberries every morning, very little meat ever and always green tea. Never over eats. He's in beautiful condition, except for the hearing.

Here in Maine it gets pretty darned cold. Right now we're having low to mid-30s at night & 50-60s in the daytime - and this is October. Single digit temps are normal once the "winter" starts. Last year, we had a foot of snow fall on Nov 1. Pop's not used to this weather, so the woodstove in our livingroom is already in use. I'm thinking outdoor activities won't be on the agenda for Pop. I will take him to the local Mall at least once per week so we can do the "mall walk."

We live in a semi-rural area in a small town outside of Bangor. Our neighbors are fairly friendly, but aren't close enough by to borrow a cup of sugar or band together for anything.

BUT....I'm taking all suggestions to heart and am armed & ready start putting things together so Pop will never feel at a loss for something interesting to do.
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Don't stay indoors too long.
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It is really a challenge to get outside often enough. I was going to say (using a well-used cliche), light a fire under him. However, so many take comments literally these days.
What I wanted to suggest is having regular 'must participate' fire drills. Even small successes count. Most facilities have these by law, maybe we should try it.
Then, you could start a neighborhood watch walking group, dressing him warmly?
How cold is really cold? In So. California, we can go out in the cold, flock to ski resorts on purpose etc.
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I'll be the first to nominate Windy as the official fun-maker for this site. I think we could really benefit from his humor.
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Windy, every family has a fun-maker, it appears with your sense of humor that you're it!
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Pfontes, Can I come live with you guys? It sounds like fun! You've got one lucky Pop to be cared for so well.
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My dad, also a WWII and Korean war vet loved the magazine Mental Floss that I got him. It's fun but science-y with lots of information. My dad was always curious and well read and it sounds like your dad is similar.

You might also see if there's a way he could do the daily wellness checks on other seniors that some local organizations offer, to make sure they're OK. That could help him with a sense of purpose and also give him a sense of connection. If he has trouble with phones, you can check out Clarity phones that are made for folks with impaired hearing. We got one for my dad and he did pretty well with it.

My 95 year old mom still loves to read novels that I get from the library and she loves her Word Find books.

You've gotten lots of great ideas so far!
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Maybe he would have fun teaching the dog some tricks? Would keep the dog busy, too.
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Thermal curtains - that's a great idea! I'm going to explore adapting that idea to our curtains. You're really well prepared for those frigid Maine winters!

Your father was a Frogman? - the precursors to the Navy Seals? WOW!!! Your Pop must be a very special person; I'm guessing he's pretty tough, too.

I wonder if you can find some model submarines he can build.

Catholic churches usually have a lot of outreach programs, as do the Jewish charities (but they're not restricted to Jewish people). I found a lot of resources of which I was previously unaware while surfing our local county's Senior Resources directory.

Just found some notes I made on other activities. We have an annual surplus of Christmas cards because of the many lovely cards we get from charities. We plan to give some to the Senior Center to donate to the many caring folks who drive for Meals on Wheels, to local rehab and care facilities, and possibly to pediatric or ICU units of local hospitals (depending on whether they’ll accept cards that aren’t sterile). And there's always the VA; as I recall from a conversation sometime ago, they collect cards to give to the patients in the hospital, and I believe they also do that at the VA homes.

If you can get an aide through the VA, I think you'll find him/her very special. The people who work at the Ann Arbor, Michigan VA are outstanding - I've never met so many caring and helpful people.

After reading yours and Maggie's posts, I'm almost (well, pretty close to almost but with a bit of cold weather dread) looking forward to another winter.
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Thank you, GA - Pop is a vet of WWII and the Korean Conflict. He's a 100% disabled Vet. I just signed Pop up for a WWII UDT Veteran Association - hopefully he'll be getting newsletters & maybe a contact or two from that.

Just before Pop moved here, I did some initial research with the eastern area agency on aging.....wasn't impressed with the results - but they were kind enough to tell me that I had some good ideas..lol. I'm going to redouble my efforts and check with area churches (he is Catholic), the town office and see about meals on wheels (although I make sure he has a nutritious homemade lunch ready to microwave every day). I've also checked with the VA - who will pay $1,000 per month for an aide (Pop's 100% disabled) - but Pop's not so disabled that he qualifies for them to pay someone to come in....even just to cook him a lunch and spend an hour or two just chatting.

My husband is a Maine Native, I've been here 10 years. Our house is all set for any snow emergencies - woodstove, wood furnace, every type of flashlight known to man, two portable radios...3 types of blankets, quilts and comforters....a small generator. I'm about to hang thermal curtains in Pop's bedroom and have just ordered the thickest, softest, warmest flannel sheets LL Bean sells. Pop's snow boots will arrive soon (found some that are easy on/off and good to -30 degrees) and he just bought his first 3 pairs of thick wool socks. My aim is to make sure he's warm and comfortable all day AND all night.

Thanks so much for your help! I love every suggestion I get!
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Reminisce, Reminisce Extra, Country and Country magazines are magazines which my father really enjoys reading, along with WWII books and magazines. The Reminisce magazines focus on WWII and the Depression. The Country magazines have beautiful photos, which are very calming and soothing and can create a mood perfect for closing one's eyes and drifting off either in daydreams or naps.

Readers Digest used to offer a large print edition; some of the stories really were quite interesting.

Since he builds model planes, I'd get him some kits of planes he likes; he can build his own air force! This kind of activity is engrossing; someone could sit for hours assembling the miniature parts. There are also aviation magazines, some of them very good. My father used to get a WWII history magazine; he really enjoyed it.

I used to have a source for large piece jigsaw puzzles that were easier for an older person to handle but the local store went out of business. When I searched online, the only hits were for large numbers of pieces, rather than large pieces themselves.

There are some smaller jigsaw puzzles though, perhaps 30 pieces, which are a lot easier to work.

There are also word games/find the words in jumbles of letters.

Neighboring towns might have senior centers; I'm sure he could go for the activities without having to live in those communities.

You might consider Meals on Wheels, if you're gone during the day, not necessarily for the food but for the companionship. The very generous and friendly volunteers who bring my father's meals chat with him, one wants to take him out for lunch, and it's a pleasant break in the day.

I take it he's a veteran. There might be programs at the American Legion or VFW halls. One of the local Big Boys has a corner devoted to the Vets, with each service's logo on the wall. I'm told they meet for breakfast weekly.

ROMEO is another group for older people. In Michigan, the Retired Old Men Eating Out guys get together periodically to reminisce, socialize and just renew friendships.

Libraries also have a variety of programs: coffee get-togethers, book and discussion groups, sometimes special exhibits, musical performances, and computer classes.

Local municipalities also sometimes have programs. I learned during some research yesterday that our county has a list of groups, including one religious one, which offer "friendship" visits to seniors.

I think you're wise to make the Christmas card activities a joint venture; make some cookies, mull some cider, and make it a family affair so he feels the sense of bonding that come with the holidays.

And ask him to help with the wreath making, house and tree decorating, etc.


On an unrelated subject, I would also devise emergency preparations in the event of blizzards. If you don't have a gas fireplace, make sure there are lots of blankets, thick hunting socks, hats and mittens, and food that can be eaten for energy in the event of a blizzard and/or power failure. My car is also stocked with emergency gear as well.

You're wise to think ahead, and very considerate to plan for his winter adventures.
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THANK YOU - Maggie! Great ideas...he used to like building model planes, have already thought about searching for an easy-to use table & some models he can work with....will talk to my sibs about an ipad....and pick up a few jigsaw puzzles. I've thought about the Christmas cards, but was a little reluctant - first Christmas after Mom's passing,,,thought I'd offer to do it with him...

You've set me in a couple of directions and I already feel a sense of relief....
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Word games. Does he have an IPad? Do you have one he could experiment with? Word for Friends is no more than Scrabble, and an IPad is awesomely simply. Might want to give it a try despite HIS reluctance.

Search For Words magazines. Introduce him to daytime TV - Investigation Discovery has interesting crime programs on all day. Jigsaw puzzles permanently set up either on the dining room table or an $89 fold up that never gets put away. Reading in general. Science Digest has really interesting lay articles. Crossword puzzles. Court TV. Do you send Xmas cards? Ask him if he'd address the envelopes.

See if your township or county has any senior services, either cheap or free. Mom's county provided a lady to come in twice a month for two hours to do light housework. It cost her $14 each time. This lady's value wasn't in her cleaning, though she did a lick and promise, it was in keeping mom company every other week. $28 a month. What a bargain!

Hope some of these ideas sound helpful. I applaud you for your thoughtfulness. Good daughter!
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