Home For the Holidays With Elderly Parents – Don’t Be a Turkey

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Yes, it is that time of year again, planning for fun holidays or dreading the stress – Boca Home Care Services offers tips on how to enjoy the holidays with the whole family, accommodating where you can and planning ahead.

Tradition! Family rejoicing around the festive table for a holiday get together… of course not every family has that type of holiday experience. But there are ways to reduce the stress that holiday family reunions may pose.

Planning, Patience and understanding go along way this time of year. For our aging or elderly parents, loved ones of theirs may have passed and aren’t around the table. A nod to those who aren’t with us is a nice way to validate the feeling of loss and of missing a loved one.

Not being as spry on their feet as they used to be, you may need to have extra space for a walker or wheelchair. Seniors tend to eat earlier so have a plate of foods ready for them i the late afternoon, or plan your feast earlier in the day rather than at night.

All the activity is stimulating for everyone, even more so for many elderly. If you have a parent in a congregate living arrangement but home for the holiday dinner, it may be even more overwhelming for them out of their routine. For someone with a Dementia or cognitive/memeory impairment it is important to show compassion for them where they are in time. No need to challenge or correct their version of what is occuring. It is easier and more helpful to enter their reality with them.

It is an opportunity for you, whether visiting your parents or having them to your home to observe how they are doing.  Take in what has changed from the last time you spent time with them, if you don’t see them regularly.

How are they walking, seeing, hearing, following the conversation. It isn’t the time to address any of these observations. Keep things light and remember the purpose is to have the family together, share time, stories and a huge meal. Just take note of what you are observing and take it up with them at a later time or with them and their doctor.

Look around the home and get them to tell stories about different heirlooms. You may even want to make it into a game of who will inherit that vase? This recommendation is only for folks with that type of dark humor.

If travel is involved by your older family members, you’ll need to plan the entire trip out. The dates, mode of travel, how to get to the airport or train station, if meal are involved, attention to special diets, sleeping arrangements, any medical equipment to be ordered. You may want to ask them about their usual routines, sleep times, meal times etc. Remind them about having enough medication to last throughout the visit and first few days back home.

Hiring an aide or companion may solve a lot of challenges posed by elder travel around the holidays. If they have an aide up north, perhaps the aide will travel to the family get together. Or you can hire an aide here to help your parent during their stay. Plan ahead if you choose this route.

If you are like thousands of other families, you may not have the warm relationship with your parents or siblings that is the stuff of fantasies. Know who and what pushes your buttons so you can be aware of it and avoid it or them. Don’t take the bait, and break the old patterns. Have some compassion for someone who is alone, ill, perhaps grieving or just knows that they are losing their powers and aren’t graceful about it. Past isn’t always past but it doens’t have to intrude and take over.

You are not the same person you were either, you are older too.

If you cannot get together, do your parents use SKYPE? Make a date to speak with each other. Send pictures as soon as possible. Find ways of sharing the holiday even if you aren’t together.

Remember the spirit of Thanksgiving. It is a time to come together and be thankful for the good in our life, our relationships, health, interests and family.