Lessons from a month with my 94 year old parents

I recently spent a month living with my 94 year old parents, after being isolated from them for over two years due to the COVID pandemic. Here are some of the lessons I learned:


  • Stay physically and mentally active, fit and flexible to the greatest possible extent
  • Get outside frequently. At least every day, ideally a lot more.
  • Practice good hygiene and diet

Living situation

  • Move into a social housing situation well before it’s too late (eg late 70s)
  • Resist the urge to hoard – learn to let go
  • Keep the world around you orderly. Chaos and clutter can form a vicious cycle.
  • Develop systems for things that are increasingly hard


  • Create a repository for important information and keep it maintained
  • Try to recognise and embrace your limitations, and develop workarounds for them
  • Get help where you need it. You will need it. Plan ahead so you are ready when you need it.
  • Follow the advice of your medical (and other) professionals. Don’t blow them off.
  • Listen to your kids, and communicate clearly, openly, and honestly with them. Follow their collective advice. Assign powers of attorney that will make it easier for everyone.

Stay engaged

  • Maintain old relationships and friendships
  • Keep making new friends
  • Keep learning new things
  • Stay engaged with creative and purposeful activities

Keep positive

  • Practice gratitude and optimism
  • Don’t watch the TV news. At least not constantly. Choose appropriate and diverse information sources.
  • Make time for play and playfulness
  • Try not to sweat the small stuff.

And the bottom line

  • Love yourself as a friend would love you, even if there aren’t many left. You are worthy of it.


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