Holiday Lessons About Elder Care

holidays elder care

The following guest post was written by Kerri Torres, vice president of Bright Horizons Care Advantage operations.

The holiday season is upon us. And with that comes good tidings, good cheer, and time with family some of whom we might see only once a year.

Grown-Ups Are Children Too

As celebratory as it is, the season often comes with some hard realities about family...perhaps an older relative who may not be doing as well as we'd hoped. From far away, strained phone calls and convoluted Skype chats can be dismissed and attributed to rushed schedules or discomfort with technology. But in person, it's more difficult to deny the real challenges.

You may find that your mom who has always had a large social networkis no longer getting out and socializing with friends. Or maybe your dad whose passion for adventure and the outdoors has always inspired youis having trouble even getting around indoors.

The signs can be incredibly unsettling to adult children, especially since they often come without any associated physical ailments. Add to that today's reality - that many families are dispersed throughout the country so regular interaction is not always feasible - and you leave the holidays with real concerns about how to care for the people you love.

Elder Care and Companionship Can Ease the Burden

I'm all too familiar with these familial challenges, and how they can weigh on us long after we've packed the holiday decorations away and returned to work. After my grandfather had a massive stroke that took his ability to walk, talk, or even smile, it was companionship that brought him around. His mind was fully intact. He knew full well what he wanted and needed, but had no way of truly telling us what it was.

As a family, we committed to doing our best to make sure he had regular visitors and that fruitless as it seemed we were each actively engaging with him when we were there. As the years went by, you can imagine how exhausting these "conversations" could be. But eventually something miraculous happened...he spoke! His words were short (almost like a baby learning to talk) but they were enough. And he laughed. While we were pleasantly shocked, the doctors weren't surprised at all; the power of companionship and conversation can be stronger than anything medicine can do.

Help That Brings Peace of Mind

For working adults with aging loved ones, knowing that companionship is in place - even when they can't be - is often the thing that enables them to tend to jobs and families when they have to be far away. While my story is a bit more complicated than that of an older relative who's having trouble getting around or even stopped leaving the house, I share it to underscore the importance of human interaction as a key component of any person's quality of life.

Trained, compassionate, trustworthy in-home caregivers - who can be there to read the daily paper, play a game of cards, or walk to the store when a family member can't be - are indispensable. By providing that level of companionship, networks like the one offered by Bright Horizons Care Advantage allow family members to focus, work...or just even to think.

And in this season of good cheer, that's something else to be able to celebrate.