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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.