Bringing Parents Home for the Holidays or Bringing the Holidays to Them?

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During the holiday season, many adult children seek to bring their elderly parents home to allow the parents to participate in family festivities.  While it is a great thought, keep in mind that temporarily relocating an elderly loved one is not as simple as doing so with a younger and more independent person.  Here are some things you should consider before finalizing plans to bring your mother or father home for the holidays.

 

Those who reside in assisted living facilities or nursing homes

 

If your elderly loved one lives in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, he or she will likely need a level of care beyond what you may be able to give. Can you provide 24/7 care for someone who may not be able to perform even simple tasks such as dressing and bathing?

The holiday season can be full of joy but it can also bring stress.  In addition to planning the festivities, preparing meals and arranging things, are you ready to take on the additional duties that will be required as caretaker for your elderly loved one?

Even if you are willing to provide 24/7 care, are you able to do it at a level of competence that will ensure the safety and comfort of your elderly loved one? Remember that the staff in a nursing home has a degree of medical training and has training in how to deal with various emergencies and other situations.

What you do not want is to inadvertently endanger your elderly loved one by removing him or her from a facility which has the necessary level of care  that you may be unable to provide yourself.  As such, if your elderly loved one has reached the stage in life where more care is required than what you are honestly able to provide, it may be better to consider alternatives to bringing him or her home for the holidays.

 

Those who are aging in place

 

If your elderly loved one is still able to live in his or her home, there are different safety considerations that exist at a nursing home or assisted living facility.  However, you should take a few things into consideration, not the least of which are the preferences of your parent.

Many elderly people who are aging in place have established a comfortable routine .  They have their own way of doing things and are happy in the home that they have worked hard to create.  They may not be interested in packing up their things—including medications, medical devices, and other things —and moving to live in someone else’s home, even if it’s yours.

Although there are exceptions, the general trend with an aging person is to become less resilient and more set in their ways.  If this is the case with your elderly loved one, you may want to consider if he or she would be comfortable living in your home, even if for only a few weeks.

If you have established a good line of communication with your elderly loved one, you can sit down with him or her to approach and discuss this topic.  Ask what he or she wants to do and honor the wishes expressed.

Keep in mind that although someone who is aging in place may be more independent than a person living in a nursing home, there are still some safety considerations.  Your elderly parents may say they wish to be with you during this time, but may secretly prefer to remain at home where they are more comfortable. You truly know your parent, so only you can judge it this is true.

 

Taking the holidays to your elderly loved one

 

If you decide that bringing your parent(s) home for the holidays is not the best course, there are other options.  You could arrange a time for the family to visit them at their house during a day, for example.  Or, you may arrange to pick up your parents to accompany the family to dinner at a restaurant, which  eliminates the cooking and cleaning.

Having the family together during the holidays is pleasant, but consider if it is truly feasible—and safe—to have your elderly loved one stay with you.  Remember, even if you cannot bring them home, you can take the holidays to them.

 

Sources:

Söderberg, M.; Ståhl, A.; Emilsson, U.  Family members’ strategies when their elderly relatives consider relocation to a residential home — Adapting, representing and avoiding.  Journal of Aging Studies (Volume 26, Issue 4) (Aug., 2012).  Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22939546.  Last visited November 29, 2016.

Bekhet, A.  Relocation Adjustment in Older Adults. The Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging (2016).  Available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781118521373.wbeaa056/full.  Last visited November 29, 2016.

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