Q&A: Let’s Talk About the Holidays

Holidays are special family time and can often be a challenge as we bring together several generations of people to celebrate. Let’s explore some of the more common questions that can come up during this season.

Q:  At a recent family gathering, my father confessed to the family that he is no longer driving at night and he recently got lost on his way to a familiar destination. I am troubled, because I have also noticed that he is not keeping his house or himself up like he did before my mother passed away. Should I be worried?

A:  The joy of the holidays is sometimes accompanied by an uncomfortable reality check. Our once vibrant and independent parents may show signs of aging that can make us uncomfortable or even call us to become family advocates.

15 Silent Calls For Help

    1. The house and yard need maintenance.
    2. Clothing, hair, or makeup are disheveled.
    3. Home appliances are broken.
    4. Housekeeping is deteriorating.
    5. They are at home a large percentage of time and not getting out.
    6. Old and spoiled food is in the refrigerator.
    7. Bathing is infrequent or personal hygiene is compromised.
    8. There are signs of depression.
    9. There is mobility difficulty with stairs, chairs, and balance.
    10. There is a growing history of falls, or hospital visits.
    11. There is confusion or repeating conversations.
    12. They are no longer making meals—or they’re losing weight.
    13. There is loss of interest in hobbies and social activities.
    14. Medication errors happen.
    15. They avoid family activities.

If you notice any of these signs, it is time to have an open dialogue with your parents. Having a plan in place for future health care decisions is an important part of retirement. Starting the conversation may be difficult, but talking now will help prepare the way for the challenges of aging. For a comprehensive list of questions that can help you start the conversation with your parents, read the article 35 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents at joanlunden.com.

Q: My mother is 85 and we want to make her feel special for the holidays. For years we have celebrated at our parents’ home, but our family is growing and we are creating our own family traditions with our own children. We want mom to feel honored and important while celebrating with us at our house. Are there special considerations we can implement to make this a special time for all?

A:  Honoring our parents is a great place to begin at any festive occasion. Holidays can give them the opportunity to make a special impact even when the celebrations are no longer taking place in their own home. First, make sure that your home is safe and accessible. Provide easy-to-navigate stairs, comfortable seating and a place they can go to rest. Invite mom to contribute a special family recipe for the menu. Invite her to share a special project, photo, or story with the family, and make this a time where everyone.

Kellie Moeller has worked in the senior housing industry in the Northwest for more than a decade. With an insider’s view and a passion for serving seniors, she gives a fresh perspective on aging. Email your questions to TimetoTalk@3rdActMagazine.com or mail your questions to Time to Talk, 3rd Act Magazine, 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320.

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