Providing Comfort and Joy for Granny at Christmas

Filed under: Holidays, In The News

No family wants to think of Grandma as the Grinch who stole Christmas. But let's face it, rallying the kids to bring holiday cheer to Granny's assisted living home doesn't score high on the holly, jolly, best-time-of-the-year happenings list.

This holiday season, many moms and dads find themselves sandwiched between playing Santa for their kids and serving as savior caregivers for their own aging and sometimes ailing parent or parents. It's a tight and stressful squeeze.

To help, the AARP and the Wall Street's Journal's "The Juggle" columnists are offering a series of tips for families to make sure Grandma and Grandpa are doing OK at the holidays -- and to keep you from ending up a stressed-out wreck trying to keep everyone happy.

According to Caregiving in the U.S., a 2009 comprehensive report from the National Alliance on Caregiving and AARP, one in five Americans, or 43.5 million people, are caregivers for someone older than 50. Most caregivers think of themselves as just doing what families do for their loved ones, the report states.

If the grandparents are visiting your house this holiday, AARP suggests addressing these questions to make sure your family abode is safe and comfortable:

• Can they still manage the stairs, or would a chair lift or a home on one level be better?
• Are you concerned that their home may have safety hazards, such as dark stairs, loose rugs, clutter or fire hazards? Would brighter lighting and fewer tripping hazards help?
• Could some modifications to their home, such as easier-to-use handles and switches, pull-out cabinet shelves, a higher toilet seat or walk-in shower make it more convenient?

The AARP also recommends finding answers to the following questions:

• If they are still driving, drive with them and observe: Are they having close calls? Are there dents or dings on the car or garage? Do they drive too slow or miss signs or signals? Do they have difficulties at intersections? Have they gotten warnings or tickets? These are a few signs that it might be time to talk about limiting driving or hanging up the keys.
• If you don't already know about their health problems and current medications, take this time to ask. Are their prescriptions current?
• Has their doctor or pharmacist reviewed all of their medications for side effects and potentially dangerous interactions or effect on driving?
• Are they having any problems taking their medications? Do they always remember which medications to take and when? Would a pill organizer be helpful?

And, if the grandparents are located across the country, or not physically in the same place, "The Juggle" says it's a good time to check in by phone or Skype.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.