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Home For the Holidays


Going home for the holidays can bring a rush of memories flooding back. Our minds often go back to the traditions we grew up with, and the years we spent under our parents’ wings. As we grow older, and the time spent in our childhood home becomes less and less, it can be shocking to return home to find that life has changed.

Perhaps the once stocked refrigerator is now all but empty, or where there was once plenty of fresh produce, there is now junk food. Your parents may need help getting to the store, or preparing meals.

Did your mother once keep an immaculate house, but know it seems she has lost her feather duster and vacuum? Is your dad keeping piles of newspapers or magazines? Mobility issues could be causing a lack of housework and organization.

Take a look at your parents’ medication. Are they due for a refill but still have half a bottle of pills? Perhaps the bottle is empty, but no new bottle has taken its place. Medication mismanagement can be a scary and serious issue. They may need assistance getting their medication and remembering to take it.

You may see a pile of mail that has gone unopened. It is common for those with dementia to not be able to keep up with bills and correspondence, or perhaps your parents are having financial issues limiting their ability to pay the bills.

If there are any red flags when you visit, it’s important to remember to stay calm and speak with your parents. Remember that they are not only adults, but your parents. Be respectful when you express your concerns and ask them if they have ideas to help that you could assist with.

You can learn more about what to look for when you travel home by reading the Senior Holiday Checklist. For more information on speaking with your parents, read 40/70 Communication Tips.


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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. January 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Posted by Ann

    I'm very angry even though I know my father is reacting from the congestive heart failure and out of fear, but he really should not be driving long distances -- or at all, even -- and he can't see it. He is 85 and my mother is 89, and she has never driven a car. I live close by but I cannot be their fulltime caregiver anymore. I arranged for a caregiver three days a week to especially cook for them low-sodium meals, but they shortened it to two days. They are in denial that their physical strength is not what is used to be and neither are their minds as sharp as they used to be. Tomorrow I will find out if my dad has kept his word to his doctor not to drive long distances and if he hasn't, I'll have to file with the DMV because I truly believe he should not be driving. Any shared experience on this would be great.


  2. December 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Posted by JENNIFER

    I'm 64 years old. My husband is 70. He has been diagnosed with early stages of dementia and I'm stressed for all I've been through so far with his disability including being left in a parking lot waiting for him to return to pick me up. I try to be understanding but my patience is being put to the extreme. He's taking a medication but I don't really think it's helping. He forgets his hearing aids, cell phone, and I'm thinking in time he'll forget his way home. I need to have some way to communicate with someone that can help me with advice and I need someone that's also experiencing what I'm going through. Not someone in a healthcare profession that doesn't really know the every day stresses that go on.


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