Many of us are likely to visit with our aging parents and elderly relatives over the holidays. And in many cases, Mom or Dad is living alone, or beginning to have trouble living independently. Now is a good time to watch and listen for visual health clues, which may include everything from chewing and swallowing…to walking and mobility…bathing and cleanliness…to hearing, vision, and mental clarity.

The holidays can be a difficult and stressful time. If we approach this time with elderly parents with both a positive and proactive attitude, we can make our visits joyful for all.

– Enjoy Your Time Together
After you have ensured that your elders are safe and happy, relax and focus on making the most of the holidays and your time together. Encourage group activities to get your family moving. Decorate the house or tree. Listen to holiday music, or take an evening stroll through the neighborhood to see the lights. Remember…seniors need to be mindful when mixing alcohol and prescription medications.

– Reminisce with Family & Friends
Many of our fondest memories from childhood and youth are episodes from holidays past. One of the golden rules of learning and memory is repeat, repeat, repeat. The brain also responds to novelty so repeating something in a different way or at a different time will make the most of the novelty effect and allow you to build stronger memories. Engage your elderly parents to reminisce over the holidays, and about the holidays. Even seniors with advanced memory loss retain long-term memories, and may be able to speak vividly about a Christmas more than 50 years ago. Have fun looking over family photo albums. Or listening to holiday music that brings the past to life for family elders.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: