Regardless of all the little things that add up to major stress for the holidays, remember that time spent with aging loved ones is precious and sometimes limited. Take time to recognize that the moments spent with them are a gift and in this fast-paced world it’s a blessing to be able to gather family and friends around for even a day or two. After all, that’s what the holidays are all about, right?
The holidays provide consistent and recurrent opportunities for time spent with loved ones and cherished friends. Those traditions we may have enjoyed for years are bound to change as the Greatest Generation and even older Baby Boomers age. Take time to not only experience special moments but to assess how your role as a potential caregiver is developing. When your family gathers, it is the perfect time to start conversations about Elder home safety, transportation, ability to cook and eat properly as well provide self- care. Now I am not suggesting a full interrogation of your elders, but rather guided questions.
- How does your elder look when they walk? Using a new cane or walker? Need one? Note their posture. Has your Elder admitted to any falls? Falling is A SERIOUS WARNING SIGN that deserves a Physician appointment and assessment asap!
- Did your Elder drive to the event or need a ride? This can indicate change.
- How is their vehicle? Regular safety and maintenance being completed? Any dents scratches?
- Did your Elder bring their usual plum pudding or are they not able to cook complex dishes anymore?
- Did your Elder eat his/her usual amount of their meal?
- Notice any changes in weight? Especially, weight loss or swelling of lower extremities that could indicate disease process’
- Did your Elder need a nap?
- Notice if your Elder is wearing their traditional holiday clothing? Is it clean and does it fit properly?
- Does your Elder appear well? Is their skin color pink, are they at ease, talkative, and interested in family/group dynamics?
Remember, that even though you have not been in the position of providing care or support, take time to look at the seniors in your life through a different lens. Our Elders are our blessing and our teachers, honor them with a guiding hand and open hearts during the holidays and all year round.