The Holidays bring families together, which is a great thing, especially for those family members separated by geography. But since the holidays also mean spending time with your parents and elderly loved ones, it can be a shock. The New Old Age Blog at the New York Times recently referred to this shock as the “Holiday Reality Check”.
All those months of checking in over the phone or getting reports from a sibling might have led you to believe that all was well with your elderly loved ones. Now, when you actually see them face to face, all is not well on the home front.
It hits in greater and lesser degrees: Finding a loved one to be fairly forgetful, much more than before. Perhaps it’s finding stacks of unpaid bills and old food filling the fridge, or discovering that the nursing home selected was the wrong choice. No doubt many readers already have encountered their own Reality Check during a Thanksgiving visit, but the important thing is that the holidays aren’t over yet. No, they are just ramping up.
As we venture deeper into the holiday season, you may seize the opportunity to pay more attention and begin to right some wrongs sooner rather than later. For many, this might mean an up-front and realistic discussion about what needs to happen, whether that be planning for the estate, writing advanced directives, or pursuing care.
However, there also are more gentle steps that can be taken and some pragmatic ones as well. Fixes that you can offer from afar might mean hiring helpers or even professional geriatric care managers to work in your stead.
The important thing is what the holidays mean about and for your family. Consider this a clarion call to be proactive while there still is time to plan, rather to be reactive when time to plan is past.
Reference: The New York Times: The New Old Age Blog (November 25, 2011) “The Holiday Reality-Check”