Sara Myers

A Good Enough Daughter

As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]

A Good Enough Daughter’s Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Season

Making things as easy and stress free as possible

By Sara Myers

Tips to enjoy the season with your old, frail, possibly demented family member are easy to find on the Internet. Just type “ caregiver holiday tips” into your search engine, and a long list of Web site options will be displayed on your screen.

While I have tremendous respect for anyone who develops a holiday tip list, I find that many of those tips don’t apply to my situation. My mother lives in a dementia-oriented assisted living center in Seattle and may not have far to go.

So I decided to develop my own holiday tips for myself. Maybe there is something helpful here for you as well. Here are the eight guidelines I plan to follow:

  1. I assume this will be the last Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Christmas that I will spend with my mother. While I said the same thing last year, this could really be the last year. I’m going to make every effort to focus on and enjoy my mother as much as I possibly can.
  2. Since this will probably be the last holiday season, I want to make the experience as problem and stress free as possible—easy on everyone, particularly my mother.
  3. My family will go to the assisted living center to celebrate the holidays along with the other residents and staff. I will not attempt to bring her to my house.
  4. Whatever happens, happens. I will make every attempt not to assume control over anything, except perhaps our schedule so that we make the ferry departures on time (my family and I live on an island and take the ferry to Seattle).
  5. Remind my brothers to send holiday cards, more than one (preferably, three) throughout the season, including pictures.
  6. Ask my tech-savvy hubby to put together a photo album we can all look at while at the assisted living: old pictures, new pictures, doesn’t matter—she loves to look at pictures.
  7. With plenty of advance notice, let the assisted living staff know that my family and I will be coming for the holidays. Give them abundant time to make sure her room is tidy and absent any soiled laundry. And finally . . .
  8. Consider the use of intoxicants. I’m thinking a glass of wine while I’m getting dressed might be nice and another glass while on the ferry boat.

Many, many years ago, while living in Germany, I lived with very nice people who were guided by the tenets of transcendental meditation. Here’s one adage I retain from that experience and still try to live by today: “Take it easy and as it comes.” This holiday season, I am embracing that philosophy whole-heartedly.

I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season, filled with the blessings of amor, dinero, y salud (love, money, and health).

By Sara Myers
A Good Enough Daughter Blog


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