Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Celebrate the Holidays; Scrutinize the Celebrants

When you are visiting seniors during the holidays -- whether as friends, relatives, or clients/customers -- observe them, noting their needs that might require attention.

On December 18, 2006, the Department of Aging issued a press release entitled "
Holiday Visits Provide Opportunity to Review Health, Lifestyle Needs of Older Adults ". The Secretary of Aging, Nora Dowd Eisenhower, is quoted, as follows:

“The holidays are a great time to discreetly take notice whether older parents, relatives or friends are able to manage their daily affairs and are prepared for the cold winter months ahead,” said Eisenhower.

“By tactfully showing your concern, you may be able to start a productive conversation about how to cope with the challenges of aging, as well as your loved one’s changing needs.”

Eisenhower suggested paying attention to whether the older person has experienced a change in their health condition, memory or ability to understand, living conditions, or finances. * * *

Eisenhower noted that while it is essential to pay attention to an older adult’s physical, mental, environmental and financial situation, it is equally important to respect their need for privacy and desire for independence.

Likewise, the U.S. Administration on Aging (AOA) provides a Holiday Spotlight on its website here entitled "Home for the Holidays: A Good Time to Talk with Family", with the same advice:
Take time to talk with your family during the holidays about health and long-term care. You may want to talk with your spouse and/or children about your future long-term care needs or with your parents about key issues that affect their well-being. After all, long-term care, the Medicare Prescription Drug coverage, and Medicare Coverage for Preventive Services affect families not just individuals. We have tips to help you get ready to talk with your loved ones during the holidays about these important topics.
The AOA site then summarizes suggested discussion topics:

Following other, more personal, lifestyle tips can improve holidays with seniors, while also considering their longer-term needs. For example, see:

  • Tips for Visiting Elderly Loved Ones During the Holidays, by PNNOnline (11/21/06) -- As millions of us pack our bags and prepare for holiday visits to elderly relatives, the Institute on Aging reminds families also to prepare to be alert for signs of elder abuse, neglect and self-neglect during these visits. * * * It is imperative that families take time during these homecomings to evaluate the living situations of their elders.
  • Holidays with Elder Family Members (11/30/06) -- If holiday visits to aging loved ones uncover shocking changes in the person and home, know how to spot trouble and what to do.
  • Aging/Grandparents, a blog posting by Maryan Pelland.

And so, be careful to look & listen, for just such a conversation as this:

Clark: Since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.
Aunt Bethany: What dear?
Nora: Grace!
Aunt Bethany: Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.
Uncle Lewis: They want you to say grace. The BLESSING!
Aunt Bethany: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Clark: Amen.

--National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), quoted here.