Planning Holidays with Elderly Parents

With celebrations coming, you have time to plan for holidays with elderly parents. Obviously you’re preoccupied with making sure all the details are in place, meals, gifts, guests. Don’t forget that this is a great opportunity to check on your aging parents in a new way.

I would not advocate heavy duty conversations during your time at home. Sitting at the family dinner and saying, “So Mom, when are you moving out…” may not be the best for digestion!

Use this time for being together, for celebrating and NOT raising the anxiety level of your mother and the rest of the family. But you can still get a lot done to equip you for the important talks that you will need to have next.


What to Check On. What to Look For.

Take the time to really look at your folks. It may have been a while since you’ve seen them, and things have changed. You need to be able to take in what’s different. Of, course you’d rather imagine that things are the same as they always have been and always will be, but now is the best time to look closely and take it all in.

Things HAVE changed. Our minds are trained not to notice what we're not looking for. Rather than looking for all the evidence that things haven’t changed -- be open to noticing what’s different. Your aging parents may not be able or willing to tell you. Some changes happen so gradually, that they may not have noticed themselves.

These things don’t require immediate conversation, or even to be commented on at the moment. Be deliberate about your observations. Make a mental note, and then jot down what you’ve seen at the end of the day.

  • What's different?
  • What’s new?
  • How are they really doing?
  • What might be in disrepair?
  • What could you help with?
  • What can you encourage?
  • What can you support?


Pass Along Holiday Traditions

Use the time together for new ways of story telling and recording the family traditions. Other years you’ve been just happy to participate. This year, step back from simply celebrating the holidays with elderly parents, and invent new ways that you can record the stories and memories that your parents hold.


Dealing with Grief

There’s no getting around the fact that part of your visits may now be bittersweet. Your parents have new stories about long time friends that have died. You may be all too aware of their aging and things slowing down. Perhaps this is the first holiday after one of your parents has died, and this new grief is very real for everyone. There are some real tools you can use to prepare yourself and to help others cope with holiday grief.


Family Treasures

Your parents will one day have to decide what happens with all the things that are so important to them. They could simply handle this with a lawyer, but you could be missing out on what's most important. Encourage them to invent new ways to involve the family now. Help them transform their "stuff" into treasured heirlooms.


Travel for Senior Citizens

If you plan to have your parents travel to visit you, there are many things to consider. Their resistance may be much more than stubborness. You'll need to talk about the trip and plan well in advance to accommodate their needs and safety.


Celebrating Long Distance Holidays with Elderly Parents

Circumstances may prevent you from being with your aging parents for the holidays. You’ll need to be creative and use your imagination for celebrating holidays with elderly parents. But you can invent lot’s of ways to celebrate long distance.


Holiday Stress Busters

You don't need to reproduce the fantasy of the Norman Rockwell portrait. Real life holidays are a challenge. Start planning in advance to experience something new this year. Why not try these holiday stress tips.


If you’d rather not be there at all…

You may not be looking forward to this visit. You may have a difficult relationship with one of your parents. An ongoing feud with one of your siblings. Someone plays favorites among the grandchildren. Past hurts and pains that have never been acknowledged. But if the visit for holidays with elderly parents is necessary, you can learn to improve family relationships.



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