Magazines for elderly woman
November 26, 2004 9:19 AM   Subscribe

What are some good magazines for an elderly women with severe depression?

She loves dogs, speaks decent Polish, has limited mobility, and an incontinence problem.

It's hard for me to judge what her interests are, because she doesn't want to do anything. she sits around with her 90 year old boyfriend, who, in all honesty, is depressingly boring.
posted by getupandgo to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
The large print version of Readers' Digest seems to be a big hit with my grandmother's crowd.

I do have to ask, though. I she bored? Or is she just boring to you? It's not unusual for people in their 90s to be content to spend an entire day reminiscing about the past.
posted by 4easypayments at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2004

getupandgo -- you can no more understand what a 90 year old is thinking, than you can understand what a horse is thinking. TO BE ALIVE at 90 is a miracle. To ask that someone also be INTERESTING at that age is too much. Is a magazine something she asked for? Or something you thought up? You know, people at that age kind of fall into a not unpleasant trance for most of the day, and its not altogether a terrible thing.
posted by shambles at 9:38 AM on November 26, 2004

When I worked with seniors, I found that they absolutely adored jigsaw puzzles. They're not too taxing, can be done with or without conversation, and are goal-oriented. Perhaps a jigsaw puzzle of dogs would be an appropriate choice.

If she reads Polish, would you be able to find the Polish equivalent of, say, Good Housekeeping? A cursory google search turns up Pani, Uroda, Twoj Styl, and Olivia but, as someone who neither speaks nor reads Polish, I have no idea what these magazines are actually like.
posted by lumiere at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2004

I hope to have even a boring boyfriend at the age of 90. Depending on how good her vision is, there are a large variety of cassette magazines in addition to large print magazines like Reader's Digest. The Utah Library for the Blind has such a list and it includes stuff you've heard of like National Geographic and Smothsonian both of which have some quality stuff. The New York Times also has a large print weekly and if she's of a particular religious background there are many large print magazines for Catholics, for example, and Lutherans. The Library of Congress has a lot more information on how to get some of these magazines. Might also be worth talking to the people at her library and seeing if they have any delivery services for seniors or special programs or collections for them. What would be appropriate depends greatly on what her vision level is and what she'd like to interact with. Here are some lists on the topics you describe: Polish, Dogs, Mobility Impairment, Inspirational
posted by jessamyn at 9:59 AM on November 26, 2004

The large print version of Readers' Digest seems to be a big hit with my grandmother's crowd.

I do have to ask, though. I she bored? Or is she just boring to you? It's not unusual for people in their 90s to be content to spend an entire day reminiscing about the past.
posted by 4easypayments at 9:31 AM PST on November 26

She has told me she is bored, and that her boyfriend is boring.. She wants to do something, but doesn't know what. She's not content with sitting around the house all day, but that's all her boyfriend wants to do. She obviously can't go out and dump her boyfriend easily at age 82, so my solution is to find what she is interested in, and hopefully go from there.
I will try some jigsaw puzzles, and finding some other magazines in Polish, has anyone heard of, or seen a magazine called Senior Focus? I can't find any information for it online.
posted by getupandgo at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2004

Not a magazine suggestion, but I came across this info in an article about playing games at work:
Simple computer games like Solitaire and Minesweeper have social advantages because they are fun, they provide distraction, involvement, and elements of competition against yourself and others, he says.

"People even talk about their games over coffee or on the bus," says Professor Goldstein.

Some of the Professor's previous research involved elderly residents of a women's nursing home.

After playing computer games for some time, there was evidence suggesting their cognitive skills and general sense of well-being were significantly improved.
Article here.
posted by taz at 1:09 PM on November 26, 2004

I think the only reasonable answer to your question is a dog magazine. And that's because dogs are the only interest you know she has.

I'm a 39-year-old Amercan. What magazines would be good for me? Magazines in English? Magazines about events in American pop-culture or politics (wrong!). 90 is just an age. Every person is different and has totally different interests. Can't you engage her in conversation and find out a bit more about her?
posted by grumblebee at 4:36 PM on November 26, 2004

Przekroj. It covers a wealth of topics, mainly cosmopolitain, political, social issues in a witty, original and intelligent way.
posted by ruelle at 6:49 PM on November 26, 2004

Well good for her, having a boyfriend! Even if he IS boring. (After all, boring's hardly the worst thing in the world!)

Some recent AARP study showed that doing crossword puzzles is insanely good for your brain overall. Perhaps a couple of those big books of friendly crossword puzzles that aren't too taxing? If she gets good at them, she could move on to doing the ones in the newspaper.

I don't think she needs to read more. I think she should learn how to do something. Just because she's 90 doesn't mean she can't try something new! Depending on her dexterity, she could try some light-duty things like knitting, crochet, painting, journaling, scrapbooking, genealogy, playing cards, or writing her autobiography. Surely there must be something she's always wanted to try? If you're set on the magazine idea, maybe a general-purpose crafts magazine would do the trick.
posted by mechagrue at 8:46 PM on November 26, 2004

Getupandgo - you may never check back for a post so late, but I can't help thinking that the woman needs to get out into some kind of society. I have an 83 year old female friend who volunteers, plays bridge, shops etc. so that almost every day has an activity.
Her husband stays home and watches TV. She feels no remorse in leaving him to do what he wants while she does what she wants.
I am no expert, but would not Depends or some such take care of her incontinence problem? If volunteering at a zoo or veterinary clinic would be too physical for her, could she volunteer to rock preemies at a hospital? Is there a Senior Center nearby where she could find a couple of hours of Bingo? If she lives in a complex, is there an activity board? If she lives in a retirement community, there should be planned activities. Does she just need direction and encouragement to find a niche for herself? Also to feel it is OK to leave Mr. Boring for a few hours?
posted by Cranberry at 3:10 AM on November 27, 2004

My mom runs a program where she (and other volunteers) go into nursing homes and teach courses to the residents on all sorts of subjects--my mom teaches anthropology. Her experiences indicate that, given a choice between a mindless "pleasant trance" and the chance to actively engage their brains in learning new things, many elderly people will leap at the chance to get their brains going. Bad eyesight might make it hard to read, and bad hearing might make it hard to listen--but, frequently, the brain is just as hungry for activity. Kudos to getupandgo for not assuming that she needs any less mental stimulation than us younger folks do.

You mentioned dogs--Merrill Markoe's What The Dogs Have Taught Me and Daniel Pinkwater's Uncle Boris In The Yukon are two really funny and cheerful dog-related books.

History is also a good bet--I think most people are interested in a well-written history book, and elderly people often seem especially interested in reflecting on the past.

How much intellectual self-confidence does she have? If she's not likely to be intimidated by a somewhat thick book, Daniel Boorstin's The Americans: The Colonial Experience is great, and written in a very popular, accessible style. It leaps to my mind particularly because I heard it on tape, and even if she's not likely to dive into a big book, she'd probably be willing to pop a tape in a tape player and give it a try (and then she'll be hooked.) Also, a book on tape is a somewhat social activity she can share with her boyfriend. Books on tape can be expensive, but your local library is likely to have a good selection.

Also (based on the content of the e-mails my grandfather sends me), it seems that many older people like reading about the accomplishments of their particular ethnic group--maybe a book on great Poles (assuming she's Polish)?

And do look into the possibility of signing her up for a class in something new, especially if you can find classes in your area aimed at elderly people. If you e-mail me (yankeefog at yankeefog dot com) and tell me where she lives, I can ask my mom if she has any tips on classes in the area.
posted by yankeefog at 11:21 AM on November 27, 2004

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