Home for the Holidays – Assessing Your Loved Ones

By Valerie
December 24, 2010


Coming home for the holidays is for many caregivers a very joyous and special time. For some adult children, this visit might represent the first opportunity in several months or a year to personally interact with their aging loved ones.

Most long distance caregivers rely on regular telephone conversations or by keeping in close contact with in-town siblings, family and friends to gauge how well an aging loved one is managing. For some out of town family members, it’s shocking to see the physical, emotional and cognitive changes in an aging loved one.

The Mid-Island Caregiver’s Network has a very concise “Red Flag” checklist they encourage family caregivers to use when visiting with aging loved ones. We’ve modified the key points below; the full list can be accessed at www.islandcaregiver.org.

Although the last thing you want to do over the holidays is upset the apple cart by expressing your concerns about your parent’s ability to remain independent, it’s not something to be ignored. Take the time to write down your concerns prior to initiating a discussion. Determine if this visit is the best time to start the conversation or would it be more appropriate to wait until after the holidays.

Holiday time isn’t merely about your presents (although my four year old would disagree) but rather your presence in your parents’ lives. Gifts come in many forms and for some, an open and candid conversation about future care needs and remaining independent for as long as possible may be at the top of the list.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

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“You are amazing! What I tried to do in 2 months, you did in 1 week. You’ve helped us navigate the system, made sense of Mom’s disease, and gave back her independence and control. Thank you for making such a difference in Mom’s life and giving us, her family, complete peace of mind.”

– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC