Holiday Visits with Aging Parents

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Family Relationships, Power of Attorney, Sensitive Conversations | 0 comments

Holiday visits with aging parents can mean travel across town, across the country or out of the country. Sometimes, aging parents are well enough to visit us; more often, we are seeing them in their daily surroundings.

These visits are great opportunities to plan together for the future, and to make note of your concerns about an aging parent’s well-being. In-person visits can also be the best times for a relaxed chat on important subjects … if conversations are approached with calm, care and respect.

Here’s what to keep in mind as you prepare:

1. What are the topic(s)you want to talk about? What would you like the result of the first/next conversation to be? Don’t expect to be able to tackle several big topics or come to big decisions quickly. Think of it as a journey, with several small steps and milestones along the way.

2. Begin by talking about something you may have noticed. Gently express concern by talking about something concrete. For example, Mom’s weight loss and a look at the contents of the refrigerator can lead to discussing her overall health – or just getting help with cooking meals.

3. Relate an experience someone else has had. Sharing a friend’s distressing experience with their parent’s estate can help turn the focus to wills, powers of attorney and estate planning. You could say what you are doing as a result, then ask your parents about their situation.

4. Think about the way your family typically talks with each other. If you approach discussion the way you have in the past, you will likely get a similar result.

5. Be aware of established roles and relationships. How will this affect the chances of you really listening to others, or being listened to?

6. Expect to find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster. Seeing changes in an aging parent’s situation can be upsetting.

7. Consider getting help with difficult conversations. A trusted family friend, another respected relative, family advisors, or an ElderWise coach can bring a more rational, objective view to an emotional situation.

8. Think of the holiday conversation as a foundation for further discussion and action. The key is to start the process in an unpressured way. Give everyone time to think and reflect on important matters.

Preparation, patience and respect go a long way to insuring holiday visits with aging parents will be pleasant as well as proactive.

Vol. 4, No. 15
© ElderWise Publishing 2008-12.
You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’ go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at
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