Honoring Our Senior Fathers on Father’s Day

fathers day

Did you know that Spokane, Washington was the birthplace of Father’s Day? That’s what History.com tells us. On June 19, 1910, fathers were celebrated officially for the first time. By 1924, President Calvin Coolidge was encouraging state governments to observe Father’s Day, and many of them did. But it wasn’t until 1972 that Father’s Day became a nationwide holiday.

Today, there are more than 72.2 million fathers in the United States alone (according to the U.S. Census), and many of them will be inundated with handmade cards, coffee mugs, and fun sports memorabilia on their special Sunday. There will be a lot of gifts: it’s estimated that over one billion dollars is spent every year on Father’s Day gifts in the U.S[1].

For our beloved senior fathers, more unique gifts might be an excellent idea. Why not switch those old doorknobs to new lever handles? Or install a sturdy railing along the staircase? Aging in place solutions are always a good idea that your father might appreciate. Gifting medical alert technology for your father might also be a good idea – you can opt for senior life-saving alert systems that offer GPS and fall detection, both of which can add to peace of mind to your whole family.

Another thing to remember about Father’s Day is that often, what a dad really wants is a bit of your time. You can plan out something fun (and we’ll share some suggestions below) or you can simply sit with your father and talk for a few hours on this important day. When you are planning what to do with your dad on the big day, consider what he likes to do, as well as what he feels up to doing. As we get older, we face many physical issues, and some of us face cognitive ones as well. Here are a few ideas for every ability level.

If Your Dad is Comfortable Getting Out of the House

Does your father still enjoy going out? If that’s the case, the options for Father’s Day fun are wide open. Even if your father is in a wheelchair or needs other mobility assistance, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public venues to be accessible – which means you can still enjoy most of the things on this list.

·         Take him to a game. Does your dad love sports? Take him to the game of his choice. It might be anywhere from a major league stadium to a small ballpark in your hometown – both have their merits, and both can lead to wonderful discussions while you watch the play on the field (or the court).

·         Find a great restaurant to explore. Is he a foodie? Find a restaurant he’s never been to and take him out for a treat for Father’s Day. Make sure to make reservations in advance, as many places will book up quickly for a day as special as this one.

·         Watch wine or beer being made. Still on the restaurant theme, is your dad into wine, beer, or spirits? Tasting tours are a great way to spend the day. On some of these tours, you can see the “back of the house” where the magic really happens. They are often leisurely as well, so you have plenty of time to browse new flavors, explore the grounds, and sit and talk about everything you’ve experienced.

·         Hit up a museum that interests him. There are museums for just about everything, and it’s a safe bet that there is one within easy driving distance of wherever you are. If you live in a city, you’ll probably have much more luck. Look for something that you know your dad will enjoy, such as an art museum if he’s into painting or a car museum if he’s into hot rods. 

·         Go to the park and play. Yes, play! Do the things you used to do with your father, such as tossing a baseball around, playing some hoops, or simply sitting down on a blanket and enjoying the breeze. Want to make it even more fun? Bring the kids or grandkids along.

·         Take him into the great outdoors. If he’s the quite active type, you can tap into that energy with a good hike to a place he might enjoy, a trip to the beach for a hearty swim, or a walk through the woods with binoculars to catch the wildlife. Fishing is a peaceful option if you want something a little more sedate.

·         Hit the links. If your father loves golfing or simply enjoys a leisurely walk, this is a great activity. But if he’s not really into golfing on a larger scale, mini-golf can be an absolute delight. It’s fun exercise that gives you plenty of time to talk while fostering a competitive streak.

·         Catch a hit movie. During the pandemic, we’ve all become accustomed to watching more movies at home instead of going to the theater. Now that more people are getting vaccinated and boosted, consider taking your dad to visit a movie theater and do the whole works – soda, popcorn, treats, and more.

·         Surprise him with concert tickets. Is he a live music buff? Now that concerts are coming back, look for tickets to his favorite group or artist – even if they aren’t in your local area on or near Father’s Day, you could present him with the tickets that day and take him to the show a few months later. The thoughtfulness and anticipation make for a great gift!

For dads who are elderly, consider gifting a medical alert watch. This on-the-go emergency response solution offers the ability to go anywhere yet still have 24/7 protection if something goes wrong. After all, falls, and other emergencies can happen anywhere and to anyone, but the unfortunate reality is that their frequency increases as we get older. It’s not only peace of mind for them, but for you as well!

If Your Father Has Memory Issues

Seeing someone you love losing their memory can be very difficult. Given that, Father’s Day can be filled with all sorts of tough emotions if you have a dad with memory or cognitive issues. But there are still plenty of things you can do to connect with him. Here are some options.

·         Drive down memory lane. Sometimes those who have memory issues will have problems with short term memory while their long term memory remains remarkably intact. If that’s the case for your dad, a trip in the car to places that mattered a great deal to him can be a wonderful way to spend the day. You can ask him questions, learn more about his history, and probably hear at least a few great family stories.

·         Recreate his favorite dish. What does your father love to eat? More importantly, what did he love to eat as a kid? Ask friends, siblings, and other family members what that might be and surprise him with it. It won’t be “the way momma made it” but the care will make it taste great anyway.

·         Play his beloved music. Music creates an underpinning for memories throughout our lives. Hearing a particular song can take you back so strongly to a certain moment in time that it almost feels as though you are right there, right now. Give that gift by gathering together some of his favorite songs in a playlist and asking him what his life was like when those songs came out. The answers you get might be a wonderfully personal glimpse into your father’s life.

·         Create a photo book. Sometimes photographs of years gone by can spark memories that you thought were locked away forever. Create a photo book filled with memories from your father’s childhood, teenage years, and family times as an adult. Present it to him and flip through it together to see what stories emerge.

Those with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other conditions that affect their memory can benefit from the use of a medical alert wireless device with GPS. This helps ensure that if they wander off or get lost, they can press the personal alarm button to reach the Command Center. Emergency services can then help locate them via GPS. A device with a fall detection sensor is also important, as a fall can confuse or disorient a person even further, perhaps rendering them unable to press the fall alarm. A device with automatic fall detection can get the Command Center quickly, even if the panic button is not pressed.

If Your Dad Prefers to Stay Home

If your father can’t get out, or prefers to stay in, bring the party to him! Here are some ideas that work well for a memorable Father’s Day without ever leaving the house.

·         Play games. Board games, card games, word games, and so much more are good possibilities. Just be sure that it’s a game you know he’ll love and that’s easy for him to play (for instance, those with pain in their hands from arthritis might have trouble with those tiny Monopoly pieces).

·         Bring everyone to him. He doesn’t have to leave the house to have a great time with family and friends. If he’s boisterous and the life of the party, invite everyone! If he prefers quiet one-on-one time, invite a few people to come in at various times. The only goal is to sit and enjoy time together.

·         Give the gift of entertainment. Keep him occupied with gifts of books, streaming movies and television shows, subscriptions to some of his favorite things, and whatever he might need to truly enjoy those things. Think a new television, senior-friendly remote control, new tablet, and the like.

·         Pamper him. If you live in an area where you can get professional services right at home, make a point of pampering your father with a professional haircut and close shave, or a massage from a therapist trained to handle a particular complaint he might have, such as foot or back pain. If you don’t live in an area where this is a possibility, treat him to new clothing or nice hygiene products.

·         Watch his favorite show. Does your father enjoy a certain television series? Give him the gift of simply sitting down to watch it with him. Ask questions about the characters. Let him tell you why he likes it so much, and who knows – maybe you will come to like it too!

Even if your father is at home all the time, and even if he has a family or professional caregiver, it’s still important to have a fall detection device handy at all times. According to the National Safety Council, the majority of accidents happen in the home; falls account for 33% of all preventable nonfatal injuries and 21% of fatal injuries[2]. It’s important to be able to summon immediate emergency assistance when a fall happens, as the sooner help arrives, the better off a person will be. This Father’s Day, give him – and yourself – the comfort of knowing help is literally one button press away.

Alert1 wishes all dads a safe, happy, health Father’s Day!