Growing up, our parents set the tone for the holidays and the locations for celebration. As they have aged though, chances are the planning and coordination has fallen to the now, adult children, because it is just too much of a chore for mom and dad to host family get togethers.
Even though aging parents may not want to give up the role they have played in the family dynamics, especially at the holidays, there are ways to make the transition easier for everyone. Keep your aging relatives involved in the planning and that will go a long way in making them feel a part of the festivities even though they no longer have to be responsible for the planning and hosting.
If you’re taking on more of a role in family holiday celebrations, here are ways to make it an easier transition:
- Understand the feelings that your aging parents may be experiencing. Be compassionate about the fact that they feel they are losing control because they can no longer play host or hostess. Don’t feel you have to compete with the way they hosted or with siblings or other family members.
- With aging or ill parents, it pays to be flexible and to build flexibility into your holiday plans. If you need to host Christmas or other holiday gatherings on a day other than the “usual” day make the most of it. The presents and the turkey will still be there if you have to celebrate a day late or even a day early. Grandchildren will understand and grandparents will still be able to revel in the joy of watching their grandchildren open presents and spend time with them.
- If you’re a caregiver for your aging relatives, you are involved in their day-to-day care and frankly the idea of hosting a large family gathering may be more than you can handle. Speak up. Ask your relatives for help then divide and conquer the tasks to make the holiday gathering a possibility. Also, if you’re traveling with aging parents, make certain they bring their medical alert device with them. A simple call to the medical alert provider will update their contact information for the new location and they will be covered. Once they return home, another call will reset all emergency information to their home address.
- Keep traditions alive. If your parents decorated in a particular way or always served a special dish for the holidays, keep those traditions alive. If possible, ask them to get involved and participate in that tradition. It will make them feel more involved and will help you cross a task off your list.
- Remember, it’s not the date that counts it the time you spend together on that day – whatever day it is. If you simply can’t get everyone together on December 24 or 25 how about planning a New Year’s Day party for the family? Your tree will still be up, the frantic rush of the holidays will be over and you can start a new family tradition. While being together on the holidays is something that is cherished, there are many days throughout the rest of the year in which you can make memories with aging loved ones.
How will you make the most of your holiday gatherings?