Don’t Let Grandma Get Run Over By A Reindeer: 3 things to look for when you’re home for the holidays logo, orange background with open doorMy mother, Flo, is 97 years old and, believe it or not, she still lives on her own. One of my sisters lives nearby and checks on her often, and the rest of us come when we can, especially at Christmas.

Going home for the holidays to spend time with family can be the best part of the holiday season. is supporting Easter Seals this holiday season to help raise awareness and support the education of caring for aging family members. Through December 28, will donate $1 to Easter Seals for every new “Like” on their consumer Facebook page, And, this week they are raising the donation to $5 per like! “Like” on Facebook here.

Loving Conversations cover photo, shows two adult children and their motherHoliday visits with aging parents or grandparents may offer the first opportunity in several months to evaluate changes in older family members’ lives; signs that could indicate a need for increased support. When home for the holidays, it is important to assess the needs of your aging loved ones, so you can ensure their safety and security at home.

1. Make sure your loved one is eating regularly and maintaining a clean household. Ensure all food is fresh and edible and that the pantry is fully stocked. Also, check that the house is tidy, in good shape and not a safety hazard to your relative.

2. Be aware of any changes in your loved one’s personal hygiene and medication schedule. Watch for changes in personal habits such as infrequent bathing, not shaving or dressing inappropriately for the weather. Also, familiarize yourself with any medications your loved one might be taking on a regular basis and make sure they’re taking them on schedule.

3. Check to see that your loved one is maintaining their typical routines and activities with ease. Does your loved one still attend their weekly bingo game, visit with friends and run necessary errands? Check with neighbors and friends to see if they’ve noticed any differences in behavior. Also, if your loved one still drives, take a drive with them and make sure they are able to drive safely and comfortably in the local area.

If you can’t make it home this holiday season, here are a few ways to care for your aging loved ones while far away:

1. Create a support network within the community to help you care for your loved one. Work with neighbors, friends and medical providers to set up a schedule where someone can check on your loved one consistently and provide them with anything they might need and are unable to get themselves.

2. Consider working with a geriatric care manager. Many long-distance caregivers find it helpful to work with geriatric care managers to arrange caregiving services. These eldercare professionals can help assess needs and coordinate services in your loved one’s area, whether it be arranging a one-time move or a long-term care relationship.

3. Create a caregiving plan and involve your loved one as much as possible. Include other family members, friends and care managers while creating a plan for your loved one. Establishing a firm schedule will help your loved one adjust and will spread responsibility between all parties involved.

Learn more about caring for your aging relatives by downloading Easter Seals’ Loving Conversations, an online guide full of resources for adult day services and solutions for common transportation challenges.


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  1. Beth Finke Says:

    Yes, it can be so much easier when the adult children travel to their parents house rather than asking the seniors to battle with the airport and TSA security and the like — good suggestion!

  2. Sherri Hedman Says:

    We find your suggestions very helpful at age 77 and 76, however our adult children and grandchildren live several states away and we always visit them. Yet, last Christmas, when my husband was sick so we stayed home, our youngest daughter and family stopped on their way home from visiting her husband’s family. She was most helpful, getting me unstuck on many old projects. So you may want to encourage others to do likewise–to help get the genealogy and other paperwork organized, and likewise with downsizing some goods. This way, when the time comes that our family has to help because something has happened to one or both of us, they aren’t left with a mess to clean up.

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