The Holidays bring families together, which is a great thing, especially for those family members separated by geography. However, because the holidays also mean spending time with your parents or elderly loved ones, the holidays can also be a time for a shock that The New Old Age Blog at the New York Times recently referred to 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, it’s apparent that all is not well on the home front.
It hits in greater and lesser degrees: Finding a loved one to be much more forgetful than before. Perhaps it’s finding stacks of unpaid bills and expired food filling the fridge, or discovering that the nursing home or other facility selected was the wrong choice. While some readers may have experienced the reality check during Thanksgiving, the holiday season is still several more weeks long.
As we venture deeper into the holiday season, you might 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.
Of course, there are gentler and more incremental steps that are options as well. Even for family members who live out of town, fixes that you can offer from afar might mean hiring home 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, rather than reactive, while there is plenty of time to plan.