What are the Alarm Bells When Visiting Aging Parents Over Holidays?

It’s almost  Thanksgiving,Christmas and Hanukkah. Maybe you have a brother or sister yet hardly speak. So you will see that sibling on the imminent parental holiday gathering then largely ignore him or her or make do with mindless repartee as you boil inside.

But you and your sibling may have some nasty parental surprises on the holidays to prompt you to rethink the endless sibling cut off.

If you suspect your holiday visit to aging relatives could have some scary scenes, here are some red flags to put in a check list and share with your midlife siblings before the holiday call.

Perhaps older parents have piles of junk mail, stained dirty attire, unwrapped gifts when Mom used to shine through her color coordinated presents. All are cause for the sibling 911 alarm- then action.

You can use this list to assess your parents or older family members during the holidays and compare notes on a post holiday conference call. If all midlife siblings have the same criteria, it makes easier to agree what to do and what to flag as family New Year’s resolutions. But- if you and a siblings are at war- it makes that conference call much harder.

Below is a list of red flags . If you see any red signals on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or face them on Christmas- now is the time to do something about it. Use this  is a checklist of some worrisome signs you may have seen.
Alarm Bells List for Visiting Long Distance Relatives During the Holidays
Unpaid bills
Missed appointments
Clutter in a home that was once always neat
Weight loss
Memory loss, change in short-term memory
Poor grooming by a person who was once meticulous
Getting lost
Refusing to go with friends on outings or to religious services
refusing any suggestion or conversely agreeing to everything with-out consideration
Mood swings, getting angry qui
Refusing to go to medical providers
Cant take care of activities of daily living: cooking, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, etc.
Entering contests, credit card maxed out on shopping channels

When the midlife adult children return from the holidays , the family can have a family meeting alone or with an the aging professional and look at the problems on everyone’s the list, agree on the top red flags and start helping the long distance family.

As nearly 7 million Americans and innumerable midlife siblings are responsible for the care of an older family member live an average of 300 miles away, this is a great gift to midlife family members and their loved ones.

Don’t wait till you and your midlife siblings are shocked out of sleep by late-night calls from brothers and sisters ,frantically telling them of a crisis with aging Mom or Dad. Don’t force yourself and the other adult children to book last minute, high-cost flights, and gather in scary, sterile hospital rooms with brothers and sisters they have not really communicated in years. If you do -siblings might stare starkly at each other, then have to face doctors and social workers who may ask the family to make excruciating decisions about Mom and Dad.
Consider forgiveness. Check out my You Tube series Mom Loves You Best


About momlovesyoubest

Cathy Cress holds an MSW in Aging from U.C. Berkeley. Her new book Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships , New Horizon Press, was published October 2010. Cress’s book , Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Jones and Bartlett, is the bible of geriatric care management and is out out in a third edition in February 2011 .Her book Care Managers, Working With the Aging Family, Jones and Bartlett,2008 is one of the few major books on the aging family. Ms. Cress is the founder of GCM Consult ,working with small and national who want to add or launch GCM businesses. She is on the faculty at the University of Florida in their on line master’s in geriatric care management -GCM . She has taught geriatric care management at San Francisco State University , UC Berkeley and teaches at Cabrillo College and San Mateo College. She was founder and director of Cresscare, a GCM business, for 25 years.
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