by Patti Urban | Your Savvy Assistant

The holidays are a special time for many families.  They are a time to gather together and celebrate.  For many, the holidays offer a unique opportunity to reevaluate the care needs of the older members of our families.

Following are some suggestions that may help make the holidays more enjoyable for you and your loved ones.  Remember, the holidays can provide unique opportunities to seek better communication and connection.

If you are visiting your loved one over the holidays take this opportunity to evaluate the status of elderly family members.  There are a number of warning signs such as forgetfulness, lack of house cleaning or a decrease in physical appearance which should not just be written off as typical of “old age.”  Take this visiting time to observe changes and potential needs.  A simple greeting hug could tell you if your family member is fragile or losing weight.  Talking with them will let you assess their sight, hearing and current mental status.

A visit provides the opportunity for that communication, connection and support from family and friends.  It is understandable to have reservations about discussing a loved one’s increasing needs, but honest communication about the realities of the care giving situation offers others the opportunity to respond with assistance.  If there is a caregiver, whether family or hired, it also provides you with the opportunity to speak with them and see what their needs might be.

If there is a caregiver, remember when you visit that you are just that…a visitor.  Try not to have your visit disrupt the familiar routine and needs of the care recipient. Just a slight change in routine can cause increased confusion and stress.  If you see things that you think would be helpful, ask before doing them.  Often there are reasons that things are being done in a certain manner and cannot be changed.  But suggestions are also welcome as you might see another way that has just not been thought of.

While a time for celebration, the holidays also may give rise to stress and frustration to the family caregiver who may already feel overwhelmed with caregiving tasks.

If you are that caregiver, be clear about your energy level.  Let other family members know that your caregiving duties keep you very busy and you have only so much energy.  You may find it easier to allow another family member to host more of the festivities.  You may have to choose which events to attend based on which would be the simplest, least exhausting and most enjoyable for the person for whom you provide care…and for you.  If others offer suggestions, do not take them as criticism, but as a real desire on their part to be helpful.

Families often find themselves dealing with elder/parent care issues.  With patience and tact, it is good to address them so that everyone is aware of your loved ones needs and limitations.  By fully understanding them and dealing with them appropriately you all can achieve a win-win situation.

This holiday season be sure to look for opportunities to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones and family.

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Patti Urban, CSA, Owner of Your Savvy Assistant, is a business consultant for non-medical home care agencies.  She can be reached at


Patti Urban