The Torah teaches and reminds us to “Honor your father and mother”—a worthy goal that can be hard to make a reality amidst the daily grind and geographical separation.
As we celebrate the Jewish New Year this September, we will gather as families, as congregations, and as a community, and reflect on the many facets of our lives. We will give thanks for each other and look forward with the hope that the New Year will be a sweet one. For many older adults, the holidays are a reunion—an opportunity to see children and other family members, sometimes for the first time in months.
More and more families are spread apart across the city or across the United States. When adults do not live or work near their aging parents, it can create challenges. Health problems and physical limitations may limit their parents’ mobility. Their parents can experience a growing sense of loss and isolation as they outlive spouses and friends. And without living nearby, or with other obligations, for instance to their own children or grandchildren, it can be difficult for adults to know how to best help their aging parents.
Here are six suggestions:
Simply make time for them.
This may seem simple, but it is sometimes difficult to do. Despite having children and a busy schedule, remember your parents and their wellbeing. Visit them as frequently as possible and make sure you include them in holiday gatherings and other family events, even if it means arranging transportation or other support services.
Maintain frequent contact.
If you are a long distance caregiver, you may have to look for other ways to make time. You can check in on your aging parents by phone and teach them to use technology, such as Skype or FaceTime, to keep in touch. Think about what you can do from afar. For instance, find out what your parents may need for the holidays, and do the online shopping for them, so they look and feel their best.
Get them involved.
If you are unable to frequently spend time with your aging parents, help them get involved in community activities and programs where they live. Senior Centers, like at the Mayerson JCC, will help keep your parents active and provide them socialization. If your parents are unsure or resistant, take advantage of a time when you can go together—at least for the first time.
“For many older adults, the holidays are a reunion—an opportunity to see children and other family members, sometimes for the first time in months.”
Look for changes in behavior or appearance.
When you are home for the holidays, take notice of any changes in your parents’ physical appearance or behavior, including changes in weight, lack of mobility, unexplained bruising or injuries, poor hygiene, changes in mood or depression, or forgetfulness and confusion. If you visit their home, look for signs of inadequate living, such as an empty refrigerator or spoiled food, stacks of unpaid bills, dents in their car, or an un-kept house.
Then hire help.
If you observe that they may be struggling, consider arranging for services, like StarPoint Home Care, that will ensure your parents receive the care they need. This is especially important if you live far away and cannot be there very often. Getting them the help they need, which will also allow you to work and continue to care for your children and grandchildren, can be a mode of personal service and demonstrate honor and respect. Also, services such as CareLink offer experienced geriatric care management to oversee your parents’ total care. You can relax knowing they are your local “eyes and ears” when you return home.
Reminisce with them.
Many of our fondest memories happened during the holidays. So, what better time to reminisce than when we share a Rosh Hashanah family meal or get together to break-the-fast following Yom Kippur? Your aging parents will be delighted to hear about your favorite moments growing up, and it will bring you closer together.
If you or your aging parents need help, do not hesitate to call AgeWell Cincinnati. We will connect you with the provider that best meets the needs of you and your parents.