Families Should Discuss Care for Older Adults During the Holidays
12/15/2008

KAUFMAN, Texas — For many people, talk around the holidays centers around party plans and presents, but it also can be a good time to sit down with parents, siblings and other family members to discuss what level of care older adults need — and how best to provide it.

“The holidays might not seem like the perfect time to talk about how a loved one is feeling and managing on their own, but with many families all gathering together it can be a great time to really delve into family care opportunities and challenges,” said Dr. Stephen McMahon, a hospitalist on the medical staff at Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman, soon to be Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman. “It is important to approach the discussion in a non-threatening manner though and really engage everyone in developing solutions. For those family members who may already be providing care for older adults in the family, the holidays can be a good time to show support and appreciation.”

The U.S. Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Council on Aging recommend that when starting the discussion with the family member, it’s important to keep these tips in mind:

  • Ask if your loved one needs help without being patronizing
  • Ask your loved one what he or she thinks the solution might be
  • Observe the loved one carefully and discuss those observations rather than taking over
  • Pay attention when the loved one talks about a problem or concern

Once a family determines that an older adult needs assistance, the family should list the needs for support and care, determine who can develop the time and attention to support, create a list of the specific tasks needed, and get specific commitments of who will do what for the person as well as how that will be accomplished.

“The greatest holiday gift one can give an older adult is offering help in a non-threatening way and developing solutions that, where possible, enable the adult to keep his or her independence,” McMahon said.

About Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman
Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman, soon to be Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman, is a 91-bed acute-care, full-service medical center serving Kaufman and Henderson counties and the southern part of Dallas County since 1979. The hospital's services include women and infant care, wound care, diagnostic imaging, cardiac rehabilitation, and pain management services. Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman has been recently recognized with the Pathway to Excellence hospital designation for distinction in nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and is a Level IV Trauma Center. For more information, please call 1-800-4-Presby, or visit www.texashealth.org/phk.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR’s system of 13 hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System, and a medical research organization. THR is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit www.texashealth.org.

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.