Holidays are occasions to check parents’ wellbeing


By Nancy J Coulter

The holidays are quickly approaching — a time of year when most of us choose to visit with family and friends. If you are visiting with mom and dad for the first time in months, you may be in for a surprise. In addition to enjoying family time, it’s wise for adult children to use the holidays to assess firsthand the reality of what life is like for their parents.

During phone conversations seniors often tell their long distance loved ones that they are “fine” when in fact that is less than truthful. Seniors have remarkable abilities to compensate for circumstances that are less then pleasant. Unless the caller knows the questions to ask, they wouldn’t otherwise know about specific needs and concerns.

The frequent habit of “furniture walking” comes to mind. This is when someone isn’t safe standing on their own so they utilize the various pieces of furniture to steady themselves as they maneuver around the home. This is generally because the clutter and oversized furnishings don’t allow space for the walker the physician recommended. So was the doctor ignored, or not heard? Or was the simple decision to purchase a walker too big of a challenge?

If walking is an issue, generally driving is as well. Mom might say that she still gets to the grocery store without trouble, but she may hesitate to go further for fear of getting lost. There may even be some minor traffic violations that mom hasn’t discussed with you. Perhaps you note that dad seems to have lost quite a bit of weight, but he says the frozen meals and the cold cuts in the fridge are “just fine.”

These, and other, unpleasant surprises can come to light during the annual holiday visit. In fact, reports that their inquiry calls for senior living options are generally up 58 percent in the weeks following Christmas.

While most adult children wish to help maintain mom and dad’s independence, a decision to move to another environment is often best. Selling the house brings a list of other challenges that the long distance adult child must deal with. There are services to assist with the challenges of coordinating transitional services and getting the best price for the home. If all the clutter just needs to be disposed of, mom can take what she wants/needs and walk away while the adult child is free to return to his/her normal routine at home.

Aging in place is good for some but not if safety and isolation are concerns. Use the holidays for an in person assessment of what is truly best. Do not let the hassle of selling and transitioning be in the way of safety and quality of life.

Nancy Coulter is Business Development Manager, Senior Services, for Sell Moms For more information, call Nancy at 508-691-0080 or email, . Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at