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Embracing the holidays with aging parents

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The winter holidays contain different meanings for different folks. However, the holidays are much about spending time with family.

Hopefully you will be able to see your aging parents sometime over the holiday season.

If your parents are lonely and are having a difficult time living alone, the holidays can be a difficult and stressful time for them. If you can approach this time with a positive attitude, your visit will be enjoyed by all.

Be sure to check on their well-being. If you haven't seen your parents in a while, check their refrigerator and pantry to make sure they are eating properly.

Check the safety of their home. Make sure they have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. Change the batteries in them or at least test them.

Check the rooms for fall hazards. Watch them walk. Are they unsteady? Could they use a cane or walker? Do they have help available to clear their walkways? Do they have adequate clothing for the winter months?

Seniors who live alone can suffer from depression, especially in the Minnesota winters. Make sure they are getting out to activities and church if that is important to them. Offer transportation to them or find alternative transportation if you are not able to provide that.

If they seem lonely, try to get them connected with groups with their same interests. Talk to them about joining a local senior club or taking a community education class.

Are they missing family members who have passed away? Talk to them about that. Reminisce about those loved ones who are gone.

Make sure your parents are aware of the services that are available to them in Douglas County.

Make sure they have the knowledge and tools needed to live independently and safely when you leave and get back to your own life. Get them set up with local resources to help them stay safe at home.

Enjoy your time together. Play games. Watch old movies together. Go through old pictures or family videos. Dance with them. Take them out to see the Christmas lights around the area. Go to school or church programs.

Talk about the things you did when you were a kid. Play Christmas music and sing songs together. Take them to a movie theater. Bake with them some of the Christmas treats that you enjoyed as a child.

Spoil them a little by taking them out to their favorite restaurant or make their favorite meal at home. Let them play games with the grandchildren while you cook or clean a little. Ask them if there are projects that you could help them with.

We wish you a happy and safe holiday season and remember that we are always here to help you with your parents. If you believe that your parents' safety or health is at risk, don't hesitate to give me a call at (320) 762-3047.

Our services are free and we have lots of resources to get the right help to your parents to maintain their independence as long as possible.