Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holidays and the Elderly


It's supposed to be the most wonderful
time of the year. For those lucky people
who can say it is the best time of the year,
count your blessings.

For many, sadly it is the most terrible
time of the year. You only have to witness
the suicide rate over the holidays.

It tracks the same with our elderly loved ones.
My heart breaks for those who need to live
in nursing homes and family members are too
far away to visit.

Dedicated staff try their best to bring joy
into their patients' lives but most residents
will say they long for a visit from a son or

I was way fortunate than most. My mom
was able to live with me right up until she
passed on. This will be the second Christmas
without her. Since I'm divorced and don't
have children of my own, it's sad. I wish
she were here so I could watch her do her
favorite thing. Opening her Christmas stocking!
What joy shone in her eyes!

I always watched for signs of depression with
her. Dad's favorite time of year was Christmas
and Mom would be sad thinking of all their
Christmases together. But, she had me and
many wonderful friends.

We have to keep close watch, all year really
but especially during holidays and anniversaries
to ensure our elderly loved ones get help
before they slide into depression. Sadness is
normal. Depression is heart-wrenching for

Since everyone seems to get busier and busier
each year, sometimes it's easy to forget how
aging parents are doing. Especially if they are
all alone.

Trust me on this. When they are no longer
with us, it's not the insane hustle and bustle
of getting ready for Christmas that we

It will be the memory of our loved ones. It
will be the memories of all our Christmases
together. From children up until their deaths.

There's only one thing that is important in
this life. And that's love. Unconditional love.
If you live close enough to get to your aging
parent's side, do it. To heck with last-minute
shopping. You've already bought enough.
Nobody will see that speck of dirt on the floor.
People will be adding more, for sure. As for the
dust bunnies, I say throw tinsel on them!

If your parents don't have trouble with mobility,
but are unable to drive, get them around to visit
their friends. If they can't go out safely, especially
if there's ice or snow-covered walkways, go
to them.

Throw an open house for their friends to come
to them. Yes, it all takes time. But think about
this. You may go to a Christmas party hosted
by someone you don't even like very much.
Which is more important in the big scheme of

Sometimes with Mom and I, the best times
were when we just sat side by side. We didn't
even have to talk. Maybe we'd read. Or she'd
crochet. It was just the "being together" that
made all the difference. We both felt loved.

So please take the time to love your elderly
loved ones. Spend precious time with them.
It could be the one thing you do that actually
keeps depression away.

Nothing is sadder than seeing anyone suffer
with depression. Especially our elderly.

I wish you all a love-filled Christmas and the
ability to create more magic memories. When
they are no longer on this earth, it's the only
thing we have of them.

Merry Christmas Everyone!
Merry Christmas Mom. I hope you get
the biggest, brightest red sock, ever!


P.S. For those who would like to learn how
to cope with the pressures and concerns of
caring for aging parents, here's help from
eldercare experts at...