It’s almost Christmas and time for the family visit with older relatives. If you suspect festive cheer with aging family could devolve into some scary scenes, here are some red flags to put in a checklist and share with your midlife siblings before the holiday celebration.
Perhaps your older parents have piles of junk mail, dirty clothes, unwrapped gifts when Mom used to shine through her color-coordinated presents. All are cause for the sibling 911 alarm- then action.
You can use this list to assess your parents or older family members during the holidays and compare notes on a post-holiday conference call. If all midlife siblings have the same criteria, it makes easier to agree what to do and what to flag as family New Year’s resolutions.
Below is a list of red flags. If you saw any of these problems on Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or face them on Christmas- now is the time to do something about it. Use this is a checklist.
Alarm Bells List for Visiting Long Distance Relatives During the Holidays
- Unpaid bills
- Missed appointments
- Clutter in a home that was once always neat
- Weight loss
- Memory loss, change in short-term memory
- Poor grooming by a person who was once meticulous
- Getting lost
- Refusing to go with friends on outings or to religious services
- refusing any suggestion or conversely agreeing to everything without consideration
- Mood swings, getting angry when normally easy going
- Refusing to go to medical providers
- Not taking care of activities of daily living: cooking, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, etc.
- Entering contests, credit card maxed out on shopping channels
- Recent fall
When midlife adult children return from the holidays, the family can have a family meeting alone or with an aging professional and look at the problems on everyone’s the list, agree on the top red flags and start helping the long distance family.
Don’t wait till you and your midlife siblings are shocked out of sleep by late-night calls from brothers and sisters, frantically telling them of a crisis with aging Mom or Dad. Don’t force yourself and the other adult children to book last minute, high-cost flights, and gather in scary, sterile hospital rooms with brothers and sisters they have not really communicated in years.