Prepare Family For Holiday Visits With Aging Loved Ones

prepare family for holidays with aging loved ones

Family Holiday Celebrations

Preparing family members for holiday visits with an aging loved one is something that is often overlooked. If your family is like most, large family gatherings only happen a few times a year. A lot can change between gatherings including your aging loved one’s physical, cognitive, and/or mental condition. By letting them know what to expect in advance, you set the stage for a joyous and memorable experience for all.

What To Share

Because you have regular interaction with your loved one, you may not recognize how much noticeable change has occurred between family gatherings. There may be new behaviors, physical limitations, or other things that are now normal to you, but could cause worry and concern for others who do not see your loved one regularly.

Giving visiting family a heads-up about your older adult’s current condition will help everyone to enjoy their time together. No need to go into great detail, but consider sharing the following:

  • Cognitive changes: do they suffer from memory loss, mood swings, or have difficulty communicating?
  • Changes in mobility: do they now rely on a walker or wheelchair?
  • Significant physical changes: have they gained or lost a significant amount of weight? Has their physical appearance changed significantly in other ways?
  • Assistance needs: Does your loved one need assistance with things like eating, dressing, or toileting?
  • Incontinence: Does your loved one suffer from incontinence?

How to Communicate

Depending on the number of people you need to inform, you can share this information with a simple phone call, text, or email/letter. Use this fill-in-the-blank template as a guide and tweak it for your own situation:

We can’t wait to see you for (holiday/event). I’m writing to give you an update on (loved one)‘s condition before we get together. You might notice some changes in (loved one)‘s (behavior, appearance, demeanor) She (has lost weight, seems frail, has memory loss), but she is receiving regular, quality care and is being monitored by her doctors. She (tires easily, has trouble getting around, etc), but this is normal for her and is nothing to worry about. Don’t be alarmed if (loved one) doesn’t take part in all of the activities this year. She will participate when she is able and will cherish the time we spend together as a family. (Loved one) will not want you to treat her differently, but please remember to have patience with her. She loves talking about (topics they can enjoy discussing with her), doing (activities she enjoys), and will be so excited to have time to (talk about/do that) with you! If you want more details about (loved one)‘s care, feel free to reach out or we can chat when we get together. I assure you I am doing everything I can to provide (loved one) with the best care possible and would appreciate your understanding. We can’t wait to see you and look forward to a fun-filled family gathering!

Share Tips and Resources

Now that your family knows what to expect, take it one step further and pass along resources and tips that will help them understand your loved one’s condition and how to enjoy time with them.

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Liz Craven
Author: Liz Craven

Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 28 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.