The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us that, over the Thanksgiving holiday, increased numbers of older adults visit the emergency room, suffering from maladies ranging from fall injuries to food poisoning. But even absent the need for an ambulance, Thanksgiving is often the occasion for adult children to visit with their aging parents.
The risks of conflict between adult children and their parents can be high during holiday visits, the authors of “7 tips for tolerating family at holidays” observe in a CNN piece. “Whether you’re the parent or child, it’s important to realize that we’re not so perfect. Making each other feel appreciated for what we get right, and not so hurt or humiliated by what we get wrong, is not only good advice for any holiday, it’s good advice for any family”, the writers conclude.
As elder law attorneys, we would add a very specific request of adult children who have come from relatively far away for the visit: stay alert for signs of impairment in your parents or elderly relatives. Even though the holiday is a time to share happy experiences and fond memories, it can be a sign of love to notice when professional help needs to be brought in.
“Thanksgiving get-togethers can be the perfect opportunity to observe aging parents’ behavior and discuss how to help,” suggests aPlaceforMom. Indicators that senior care is necessary appear gradually, but for those who’ve not been together with their parents for months, the holiday is a time to be alert for signs that “the talk” needs to be scheduled, and soon.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that, as Jessica Kelley-Moore and John Schumacher of the University of Maryland assert, “There’s a demarcation between an impairment, which is a physical or mental limitation or illness, and a disability.” Disability means being unable to fully participate in society, not the disease or infirmity itself. An alert, caring child can often help arrange for senior care that addresses a parent’s impairment without it resulting in social isolation for the parent.
At Geyer Law, we are sensitive to the challenges, fears, and family dynamics that often come into play with legal issues, and try to adopt an empathetic and compassionate approach to estate planning for parents and their adult children.. We know only too well that parents’ infirmities are unwelcome additions to the Thanksgiving feast. We know, too, that it’s a sign of love to notice – and help parents deal with – the signs of aging.
– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team