When family comes visiting

If you have family coming to visit this season, you may be feeling both excited and concerned—excited about brightening your loved one’s life with family gatherings and holiday events, and concerned that your loved one may become tired or anxious with the extra activity.

It is wise to think ahead about factors that could add stress and undermine the pleasure. These tips can help ensure fond memories of the season.

  • Set expectations. Update visiting family members about changes in your loved one’s health. Avoid awkward moments by having them adjust their expectations in advance. Let them know, for example, if Mom is no longer cooking, or Dad now dresses only in sweats.
  • Maintain routine. You’ve created useful routines for caring for your family member. Don’t give them up! Instead, make your regular schedule known and ask others to plan around it. Your loved one will fare better for this stability.
  • Avoid doing “business.”The season is stressful enough without heavy conversations about the “what ifs” of the future. If you and your siblings need to talk, schedule a conference call for later.
  • Plan simple activities. Keep it low key and flexible. Although togetherness sounds good, your loved one may do better with short visits with one or two people at a time. Ensure that the day’s pace allows for naps.
  • Provide tips. Especially where memory loss or dementia is involved, provide visiting family members with ideas on how to respond to behaviors, such as confusion or repetitive questioning.
  • Take a break. This is your holiday, too! If your loved one needs ongoing care, ask another family member to take over for a while. Or, especially on a party night, hire someone for the evening so that you can enjoy the fun.