Here are some suggestions that you might consider as New Years resolutions. It’s not “go on a diet,” but what you should do after the holiday with your parents, when you spotted red flags that made you worry about your aging mom or dad. Here is the entire list of resolutions you might make for a in a January visit to your parents, after the holiday gave you reason to worry about an aging family member:
➢ Accompany the elderly person to the doctor, and talk to the doctor in person.
➢ Gather legal financial and insurance paperwork, and meet with professionals.
➢ Have all mail forwarded to yourself or another relative who will manage it
➢ Contact and meet with old and present friends.
➢ If your older family members are in a facility, make contact with staff that cares them, and the ombudsman.
➢ Meet with your elderly relative’s support network.
➢ Meet with a geriatric care manager http://www.caremanager.org/ in the area.
Yesterday I talked about step grandparents on the holidays. But what about stepsiblings on the holidays?
Stepsiblings are blended together through remarriage not blood. It’s usually a gory blend. The result is one blood child, now known as a stepsibling, is mashed and sometimes pounded into to another blood child’s life. One of the toughest parts of the Mixmaster–aka the blended family–is getting the blood children to accept living together as step brothers and sisters. Awful things happen like one child taking half of the other stepsibling’s room. Disaster follows that can last for decades.
Stepparents, caught in the euphoria of their own new romance, many times blindly, leave the next step of their relationship (step-parenting) out of their parental minds.
The big question is how will their unrelated blood children love or even tolerate each other–let alone share half a room and half a holiday.
Ridiculous sitcom “Brady Bunch” hopes are usually dashed in the first few days of step-siblings getting to know one another. Step kids don’t feel comfortable enough to express their disagreements and conflicts with one another. Or in another scenario, they may just freeze up, not talk. In the worst case, act out in some awful, even catastrophic way.
What ‘s an answer for stepchildren during the holidays? One can be to create a new family ritual.Grandparents can help with this. A Dad commenting on the Newton massacre suggested continuing Christmas or holiday rituals in every family in Newtown as a small healing process .The glue that holds families together whether devastated, happy or thrown together in divorce and remarriage are rituals.
So with a stepfamily and stepchildren ,create a new ritual. Rituals patch up disputes and give us the architecture of a year full of celebrations to mark family history.
They are the touchstones for rites and family passages and keep us gathering over and over again to celebrate and observe those landmarks. Rituals also give form to every day we spend and are the counterpoints of the turning clock when the family can gather and talk, share and gossip. So take a small step towards healing a family of divorce and create a system of rites that you repeat every holiday. Here is a list 50 family rituals for Christmas if you need some ideas.
Physical Elder abuse can happen during the holiday season , a joyous season also fraught with family tension.
Family caregivers are of the most vulnerable. . They teeter on a thin ledge where they can slip on the knife’s edge of elder abuse. Neglected, untrained, unpaid yet representing 78% of the long-term care system, family caregivers are stress on steroids. You may personally know what I mean. Most kin, in spite of the constant worry and tension, do a heroic job. Yet certain groups of caregivers are vulnerable to cracking up and some are predisposed to a cycle of violence. How do we know who might be a perpetrator?
Let’s take a step back and see who is a caregiver. The aging 21st century family is no longer the nuclear family made up of 50’s TV Ozzie and Harriet, and their famous kids Ricky and David. Divorce and long distance have shattered what we knew of that family. Now the aging family and its’ care providers are not just blood relatives. It’s not just David who cares for Harriet and Ozzie. Ricky, if he were still alive, might be divorced or both he and David might have new wives .So we have multiple caregivers and grandchildren who are steps, halves and fictive kin.
Or you may have partners caring for older family members, friends, neighbors, and significant others the aging family .The family itself has washed over its banks just like the Mississippi flooding New Orleans.
Because growing old means suffering chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s and cancer, the care receiver demands more and more care. The caregiver may be unwilling or unable to keep filling up this bigger and bigger plate. Their backs get more and more weighed down like the proverbial camel. Some last straw, some new demand may just shatter that spine and cascade the family member over the ledge, falling down Niagara without a barrel. In their terrifying freefall some family caregivers commit elder abuse
What are some triggers to elder abuse in families? The number one detonator of elder physical or financial abuse is bad past relationships. That miserable family past might harbor child abuse, child neglect, child abandonment, or alcohol or drug use involving the now aging parents. When the some inner barrier that holds back pain cracks, it can result in violence and deceit. If the family of 50 years ago suffered some searing hurt which carries through to the present, that old wound can turn into a fist or a slap in the here and now. So some adult children and family caregivers are horribly vulnerable to violence in the present aging family.
In a susceptible family caregiver, what are some care receiver triggers that can make them snap.
• Verbal aggression
• Refusal to eat
• Refusal to take meds
• Calling police
• Embarrassing displays- taking of clothes
• Physical aggression
• Vulgar habits – example spitting
• Disruptive behavior
If you have concerns about caregivers and elder abuse., call you local Adult Protective Services . I have also included a chapter a caregiver assessment in my text Care Managers and the Aging Family, Jones and that has a section on caregivers and elder abuse. You can order the book on my website as well.