Prescription for holiday stress relief Elder care adviser advocates moments of joy
December 3, 2006
For many families, what creates holiday stress is family -- especially aging parents.
Rather than framing the holiday family experience with aging parents as dread, aging and elder care advisor Esther Koch has the prescription for those in need of holiday stress relief:
"Personalize the joy of the season by creating your own moments of joy," she said.
"Use the holidays to change the focus from all that you have to do for your aging parents to the joyful experiences you can celebrate with them," Koch said.
"Seek to make the ordinary extraordinary and the possibilies for moments of joy are limitless.
Koch suggested the following to rekindle or make new holiday traditions. "The results can be memorable," she said.
Buy the tree together or trim the tree together.
Go to the mall to watch picture taking with Santa or have a family photo with Santa.
Check out the shopping windows or teach your parents to shop online.
Go to a lighting event or take a drive to see some outdoor Christmas decorations.
Do anything, or everything, with grandchildren.
Visit old family friends or visit the neighborhood of holidays past.
Go to a choir concert or a Sing-along Messiah.
Attend a church service or a Christmas Eve midnight Mass.
Donate food or clothing to a food bank or homeless shelter.
Go to or rent a holiday movie or watch a holiday TV special.
Make some special holiday treat or buy one already made.
Bring out the old photo albums or take plenty of pictures and print them up right away.
"Your holidays will be joyful if you intend them to be," Koch said.
"You may have to start with forgiveness. Forgive your parents, forgive your siblings and forgive yourself. Then you're really on the road to celebration."
"Recognize your parent's limits and your own, adjust commitments whenever necessary and don't forget to schedule time for yourself.
"Most of all, be in the moment and don't take for granted that your parents will always be as physically and mentally able as they are now, wherever that might be on the continuum.
"May your life be filled with no regrets, may you see the extraordinary in the ordinary and may someone be there to brighten your world as you age."
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Esther Koch is an aging and elder care advisor. Her firm, Encore Management, provides personal and corporate advisory services and seminars that assist baby boomers with the range of issues associated with caring for aging parents and their own aging.