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Aging Wisely November 2014 - Aging Wisely

Holiday Caregiver Advice: Timing and “The Talk”


elderly and holidays

At this time of year, families often come together to celebrate the holidays. For caregivers who live at a distance from their aging parents, it may be the first time they have seen their loved one in some time. Caregivers may notice changes and have concerns about how their aging parents are managing at home. Or, you may have limited time off from work and the holidays may be the time when you can fly in to visit your aging parents and handle various tasks.

Unfortunately, the holidays can be the worst time for having serious discussions about your eldercare concerns. Our caregiver advice is generally to avoid timing these conversations at the holidays. You can read more about the alternative approaches we suggest for caregivers at the holidays.

Why do we advise caregivers to avoid “the talk” at the holidays?

First and foremost, our caregiver advice is not to think of care conversations as one “talk” but an ongoing conversation that evolves over time. When broaching delicate subjects, everyone needs time to process and not feel rushed about decision-making. The best approach is to be proactive. Of course, we know that many families attempt to talk about these issues but get rebuffed. If you are having difficulty, we suggest a few resources: our guest blog post on Inside Eldercare, Seven Ways to Talk to Your Aging Parents about Home Help; our eldercare communications tips, Help! Mom Won’t Listen to Me! and a few of our caregiver reading suggestions cover this topic in-depth. You can also schedule a consultation with one of our caregiver coaches for a customized approach.

What’s a better approach to eldercare issues at the holidays?

Holiday family time is precious, especially with older loved ones who you don’t see often. In our rush to get everything done, we can cause great damage to the relationship and make things harder in the long run. If possible, schedule visits at other times in the year/more frequently or plan a longer visit this holiday so that there is time for both visiting and handling tasks.

Emotions tend to run high during the holidays. Stress and grief feelings may come to the surface. You may need to reset your expectations about the holidays, but you can still try to maintain aspects of traditions and enjoy time together.

In the course of spending time together, you can perhaps have smaller conversations about some of these issues. With a relaxed atmosphere it may be an ideal time to discuss general thoughts and desires related to aging. It is also a good time to observe how your loved one is managing.

We know ideal is not always possible, but planning can help you to have a smoother journey as a caregiver. Talk about an approach with other family members and set up a schedule for visits. Consider hiring a geriatric care manager to help you monitor the situation. Talk about how home caregivers might help, before there’s a crisis.

And, while you’re in town visiting, if you notice concerns, give us a call (727-447-5845). We’d be glad to talk through eldercare options and share our caregiver advice!

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Long-Distance Caregiver Advice: Holidays with Aging Parents


long distance caregivers celebrating Christmas with aging parents

Long-Distance Caregivers: Three Ways to Ruin the Holidays with Your Aging Parents

And, what to do instead…

1. Try to get as much done as possible in the short time you have. Schedule the year’s appointments and ensure that everything gets done. Why is this so bad? It often may feel necessary, especially if no one in the family lives nearby. There may be many tasks to handle, but this is the fastest way to alienate and overwhelm your aging parents. A lot of what you do on your visit may end up undone if you have “rushing in syndrome”. This leaves little time for meaningful conversations around any of the concerns you might have and too little precious time to enjoy the holidays. You may be used to rushing around and getting things accomplished, but you can exhaust an elderly loved one who is not very active.

So, what can you do instead? Either plan a longer visit or other visits, if at all possible. Try to handle some issues via phone before/after your visit if a longer visit is not feasible. Can you break up duties between family members or even hire someone to help with certain things? We often hear, “you allowed me to be a daughter again” from our Aging Wisely clients. Family time is precious and sometimes having someone else to handle tasks and care coordination can permit the family to enjoy what might be limited time together again. Consider setting aside holiday time primarily for that, while using other time for tasks and concerns.

2. Sit your aging parents down for a serious conversation to tell them that they should move to assisted living (or sell their home to come live with you, etc.).

We always encourage conversations and openness about important issues in the family, so why do we go against that here? Well, the holidays frankly just aren’t the time to do it if you can avoid it. This is especially true if this is the first time you are broaching these issues. Either plan to stick around longer and have these conversations after you’ve spent some time together or save it for another time. Even better, approach these topics early and often. If you’re having difficulty, call our Senior Care Consultant and we can help you with ideas or set you up with a care manager who can help with a caring, dignified approach. Unless things have become dangerous for your aging parents, it makes sense to approach concerns gradually and start from the elder’s perspective. There might be issues that they are worried about too, and they may be willing to start with getting help in the home or making small steps.

3. Tell your local sister/brother all the problems you see and your helpful ideas about what needs to change. When you come in to town as the long-distance caregiver, telling the local family member all the bad things you see implies they’ve been doing everything wrong and devalues their day-to-day struggles. When you aren’t there every day, you probably don’t have a good understanding of everything that goes on so you may jump to unfair conclusions. This can cause a lot of resentment, even in the best relationships.

Take time to observe and think about things before speaking out. If you see concerns or have ideas, make some notes and plan a time to talk about it later. Ask your local sibling some questions and express concern about how he/she is doing and how you can help. Don’t forget that your aging parents may “pull themselves together” to rally for your visit, or if you have not been there in a while things may seem drastically changed for the worse. You have a different view than the person who is there daily.

Want to have a better holiday together this year? Let us help! We offer abundant resources to assist you as a long-distance caregiver of aging parents. Our care management team can help you coordinate long-distance care and maintain strong family relationships. Our EasyLiving team can help take care of tasks and day-to-day needs, giving you peace of mind.

Give yourself the gift of peace of mind and your family the gift of aging well and wisely! Call us at 727-447-5845 to discuss your options.

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Elves for Elders: Holiday Gifts for Needy Seniors


happy holidays for seniors

Join us this holiday season in supporting Elves for Elders!

The purpose of “Elves for Elders” is to provide gifts for seniors who might otherwise be forgotten during the holidays. “Elves for Elders” is a grass roots community effort that connects gift givers (Elves) with less fortunate seniors (Elders) during the Christmas holiday season.  Guardians (who do a lot of pro bono work for seniors in these situations) and case managers submit information on their wards/clients about items they may need, clothing sizes, etc. Gift givers pick a tag and purchase some or all of the gifts for that senior (others donate money to buy supplementary items). The resource committee of BLS (Better Living for Seniors) spearheads this effort and will be kicking off this year’s Elves at the BLS consortium this week, with trees on every table to collect extra items for the gift bags.

Aging Wisely and EasyLiving have been participating in Elves for Elders for many years, donating items as a team and then taking on a more active role on the committee and as a coordination point for the gifts. This will be the 8th year for this project in Pinellas County and last year more than 500 seniors received gifts such as clothing, snacks, blankets, stuffed animals, toiletries and room decorations.

The Elders: All seniors who benefit must be 60 or older and very low income (Medicaid eligible). Such seniors are identified through local government case management agencies, certain facilities caring for the very needy, and low-income wards under guardianships. These elders have very limited funds for buying items and rarely receive gifts during the holidays.

The Elves: During the months of November and December, the program is focused on bringing in the various requested items to ensure all the individuals’ needs are met. At all times of the year, financial donations are accepted. The money is used to purchase missing items and fill out the gift bags.

The EasyLiving/Aging Wisely office is the north county drop off/pick up location. There are also Elves for Elders trees in Walgreens and Big Lots stores from Clearwater to St Pete. We expect to serve 300+ senior and disabled adults in the community this year. People who want to help can go to a participating store or come by our office, take a tag off the tree, fill a red Elves for Elders bag at the store (with unwrapped items) and return it to the tree. Elves will collect the bags between now and the 1st week in December. Our team of helpers will assemble and distribute the bags before the Christmas holiday.

Click here for the Elves for Elders flier: 2014 Brochure_and_Tags. If you need more information, you can contact our office via email or stop by.

If you are trying to decide on the right gift for your elderly loved one or friend this holiday season, check out our Gifts for Seniors 2014 post and Elderly Gift Giving Guide, for loads of great ideas!

Aging Wisely offers the ultimate caregiver gift…peace of mind! The holidays can take an extra toll on you as a caregiver; let us get you the help you need, assist in planning trips and events or bringing in extra assistance for your aging loved one. If you make a holiday visit and notice your aging parent is not doing so well, call 727- 447-5845 for our Senior Care Consultant…the one call you need to make to access all the help your family needs.

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Gift Ideas for Elderly Friends and Relatives


One of our most popular posts of all time covers gift ideas for elderly friends and relatives. Clearly, a lot of us struggle with finding an appropriate, thoughtful gift for our senior loved ones. It is especially hard to think of something that will be useful and appreciated by an elder who lives in a senior care facility. So, as we approach the holidays, we revisit this topic to give you the help you need! Here is our Senior Gift Guide (and guidance!) for 2014…

senior gift resources

Great resources for finding the best gift for the senior in your life:

Aging Wisely’s Gifts for Seniors original guide offers 20 great gift ideas, along with a few of our favorite web stores for senior-friendly items

EasyLiving shares how to choose a meaningful gift for a senior or caregiver in your life, including categories of gifts that are always appreciated!

Magic Kitchen’s 100 Gift Ideas for Seniors

What to get someone who’s in the hospital? Check out great all-around advice on how to help at “Want to be a great friend when someone’s in the hospital?” and our article about extending kindness to someone in the hospital (or recovering at home).

gift ideas for 2014 holidays for elderly

Literary loved one? Pick out one of the acclaimed new books of 2014 (with so many specialty genres, there is plenty to offer, whether your loved one enjoys novels or has a special interest such as history or music). Many books are available in audio versions (also consider a subscription to or help link your loved one with the local library’s Talking Books) or large print, for low-vision readers. Kindle and other e-readers offer large print and audio options too.

Updike, Adam Begley’s new biography of John Updike for the big reader

1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever for the sports (and history) fan

Mr. Mercedes: A Novel is Stephen King’s latest must-have for suspense lovers

For the movie fan on your list, check out 2014’s DVD releases or go for a new box set, whether a TV show like Downton Abbey or classic bundles, like the John Wayne or Gene Kelley collections.

Low-tech or high tech loved ones can both benefit from technology gifts. If your elderly Dad enjoys technology, why not upgrade him to the latest? TechRadar can guide you with their best technology recommendations. The less technically-inclined might benefit from the Jitterbug big button phone or some computer classes. Aging-in-place technology can help your loved one stay safe, while also giving you the gift of increased peace of mind.

As day-to-day needs change, properly designed lifestyle tools can make life a lot easier. This can start with simply helping your loved one “redesign” his/her space to function better, from labeling items in the kitchen and placing them where they can be easily reached to removing clutter or adding bathroom grab bars. There are specialty clothing retailers, such as Buck and Buck that offer clothing, shoes and other comfort items designed specifically for mobility-challenged people. The EasyButton is a great example of how innovators are continuing to modify design to improve functionality.

gifts for caregivers

As a caregiver, you also deserve a gift this holiday season. Give yourself the ultimate gift, of peace of mind, by getting some expert guidance and support. Connect with our advocacy team today to find out how we can help. Make your holiday season more enjoyable by reducing some of your stress and the fear of the unknown.

Reach out to us at 727-447-5845 for the ultimate gift for your family!


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