Surviving a Holiday Visit with Aging Parents
Prepare mentally. If there are usually family conflicts and tensions, you may need to take some time to get into the right mindset. There are also things you can do during the visit itself to ease tensions or deal with them better. We love this “Survival Guide for Difficult Family Visits”.
Think about your plans and expectations. It may be necessary to modify some family traditions. Whether your parents come to visit you or vice versa, think about their comfort and stamina. Reset expectations as relatives get older. Stay tuned to EasyLiving for fun activity suggestions to modify or create new holiday traditions.
Don’t broach the difficult conversations during the holidays. A holiday visit with aging parents is perhaps the worst time to bring up your concerns about driving, care needs, memory problems or finances. Talk to siblings about this and plan other times for discussions.
Don’t overschedule. Try to plan enough time to visit without packing the time with appointments and tasks. Schedule a couple extra days or make plans for another short visit soon after. Shorter, more frequent visits may be better if feasible. Long visits can be tiring and emotionally draining on all sides.
How to Make the Most of a Holiday Visit with Aging Parents
Observe. Holiday visits with aging parents are the perfect time to observe how they are doing. Aging parents often “rally” for the holidays, so look for subtle signs. Listen carefully for any memory lapses or missed words. They may try to cover up or laugh off confusion.
Listening is also very important for the relationship. Show you care and want to hear what your parent thinks. You’ll hear many cues about what they’re worried about and what’s happening. Take a close look at the home environment, personal appearance, and habits for changes.
If you have enough time before or after holiday celebrations, plan to accompany your parent to an appointment or two (doctors, financial advisor/lawyer, or just small tasks). Pick a key appointment or one key task to handle. In addition to getting to know key contacts and taking care of to-dos, you can observe how your parent handles things. Can Dad make the appointment and keep track of it? Does Mom have any problems driving to the appointment? Do they have paperwork organized and remember what they want to discuss?
If you see things that worry you on your holiday visit, give us a call. We can set up a consultation with a care manager to discuss resources and the best way to approach your concerns.
We can also help with pointers and coordination if your aging parents are going to travel to your home for the holidays.