Senior Resources » Aging In Place » Handling the Holidays with Daphne Davis

Handling the Holidays with Daphne Davis

Typically we get nervous and have lots on our plate, then add the complexity of being a caregiver during the holidays, trying to uphold family traditions, and you can get overwhelmed and stressed out. Daphne Davis at Pinnacle Senior Placements talks about how to manage the stress by keeping things simple, and how to create memories wherever you’re at in a disease or transition with your loved ones.

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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

The following podcast is provided by Pinnacles Senior Placements LLC and Answers for Elders radio. And welcome back to Answers for Elders radio everyone. We are here with our wonderful Daphne Davis from Pinnacles Senior Placements. Daphne, welcome back to the program well, thanks so much for having me here. You know, I’m glad because I can’t believe the holidays are upon us. It’s just crazy and this is a huge issue with families and dealing with seniors and I’m so glad you’re here to talk about it. So, Daphne, tell us a little bit about, you know, the things that families are dealing with right now, this time of year. Well, typically, just with holiday seasons, we get nervous or we get a stressed out and feel like we have too much on our plate. And then you add being a caregiver in that, where you add added responsibilities of another person either in your home or trying to uphold family traditions during this time, you can get overwhelmed and stressed out. So a couple of things that I’d love to talk about today is how do we keep things simple and the most important thing during the holiday times is to create memories, memories in wherever you’re at in the in a disease process or a transition with I like ones when I was caring for my mom. I hear you, I tried to do it all and and it was because I wanted to honor her and it was aren’t to get my family to buy in, because I was going like this could be mom’s last Christmas or last Thanksgiving and there’s certain traditions that are so important to her. And yet I kind of was met with complacency in many cases with my family members. Well, we’ll see what’s going on, different things like that, and I got myself worked up over these issues when really you’re right it. I made it much too hard on myself. You know, I think the key pieces is to be planning and have open communication and all of those things that you just said, for you to be lovingly saying to your family. Hey, guys, I really need help. Let’s have a conversation about this so that all of us enjoy are gathering. One of the pieces you spoke about was, you know, this maybe mom or dad’s or uncle Joe’s last Christmas with us. Acknowledge your feelings, walk through them, have a conversation with your kids or your sister’s siblings and and say, you know, what’s this going to be like right when mom is gone, and how can we enjoy her right now? Well, and not to mention, like what we’ve discussed before about mom and dad. You know, if they have Alzheimer’s or dementia, a lot of families have not been around them for a while. You know, right, and so you’re dealing with this and anxiety of what’s mom going to be like? Or is dad going to remember who I am? Well, let’s talk about some strategies from that. I’m as if you are the primary caregiver or the person who is most often involved in the with the loved ones life, it might be a suggestion to send out an email and be able to just kind of say, Hey, want to give you a heads up of where our new normal is, writing what mom or dad or you know, like I said, uncle Joe can do right now. It might be be specific. You know, yes or no questions are the are the best. Not remember when? Do you remember when? Oh my goodness, now they have to save face because they might not remember when. Right it is helpful to have maybe a photo albums laying around and that pictorial also was great idea. Yea, yes, the long term memories and and also talking about memories, I think are wonderful and and I know that one of the strategies I always talk about with families. Even if Mom or Dad or in the hospital and you know you don’t know what you’re going to say, it’s like, bring in photo albums, they can sit on a table, you can reminisce with them, have that time of talking about special events or bring photos in. That’s exactly right and depending upon the stage of the disease process early on, that still might be an activity that you can have with you know, the shoe box for pictures, and that’s the new tradition at your family gathering. You get together for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukah or whatever it is you get together and now, instead of doing, you know, the Christmas cookies, which are a little too fine to find detail right now, you’re looking through the shoe box of Christmas pictures or just any pictures and talking about those and having mom tell the story about him and actually writing on the back of the picture what a wonderful time to have with your loved one. Right, right now. I you know we’re kind of going a little bit of truck but how? And I guess it depends on the individual, but you talk a lot about traditions. How often our family traditions that important? With it with this senior loved one? Is it it? Are there’s some that are really important, or do those kind of things go away all the time? Good question. Let’s talk about some traditions. Some could be as simple as we always have, you know, four clock dinner and the family all gets together because everybody does their thing during the morning or afternoon. Well, maybe four o’clock isn’t the best time in the world for your loved one any longer the right when they’re most anxious. Right. So is that family tradition that important to have four o’clock dinner, or could you now have a one o’clock lunch or maybe even a brunch? Sure, maybe that looks different. That will also help you as a family member and collectively as a family to still have traditions that you’re gathered together. It’s based around food. You can still have Aunt Sylvia being her favorite dish. That she right, but it’s just at a different time of day. That would be a tradition that probably has some flexibility. Be sure. There are other traditions that you might get of a gathering, that’s decorating your home and however you do that in your family traditions. Maybe that’s something that Mom or Dad can’t participate in in the way that they were doing it before because, you know, dad always put the lights on right and now those twinkling lights might be too much stimulation for dad and you have to adjust from twinkling to steady lights, something simple like that. Is that really going to disrupt sure Christmas that they’re not twinkling lights? One I think to which is an important thing, I know for my mom, was don’t interrupt their schedule. You know, if they are on a if they’re on a schedule, you know if, especially if they have dementia, taking them off that schedule is can be overwhelming. And my mom always took a nap at a certain time of day. You know what, when she was at my house, guess what? I set my a my office area. I just fix it up, put a little cot, you know, in there, a little, you know, day bed that I had and she could go take her nap and and we close the door and we planned something quiet during that time so that she could have that time and then get up and coming back and join the family. Those are little things like if you have a loved one in senior living or something like that, pay attention to that. You know what is that schedule right, so important because it may disrupt your schedule a little bit for a couple of hours, but disrupting an elder’s schedule who has a disease process can take days to recover from. You may get anxiety and behaviors and now they don’t want to take their medications or they’re not eating or drinking the right because you extended their day too long. So rather than having the eighth hour event that we do at holiday times, maybe it’s more about having a two hour event and it’s okay for mom to go quote back home, sure, but be prepared for that rather than disappointed. And that comes in the conversations. Before I go back to that email, send out the expectations. Be able to say to your siblings this would be helpful. Can so and so do this? or in that same email, if your tradition is to be giving some kind of gifts. Talk about what our appropriate gifts. We still want that tradition right. It’s going to adjust a little bit. And you know, the gift, the whole gift thing is a huge piece. Even if seniors are living independently, chances are, you know, the least amount of clutter in their life should be better. So to bide them something that could potentially be left out or a decorative piece or something like that. Chances are they’re trying to get rid of that kind of stuff right. So thinking about practical things to give a parent. I’m sure that kind of changes, doesn’t it? Absolutely think in terms of experiential rather than possessions. What could I give for a gift that’s experiential, depending again on your situation, that might be a concert ticket someplace or it might be a little book that you know the grandkids put together and says, grandma, we’ve got coupons for you to come and make cookies with us or make the brownies that you know. But think experientially also for the caregiver. Don’t be shy in that email to say if you’re thinking about gifts for mom or gifts for me or whatever, be bold and say the idea of having some respite care would be a fabulous, fabulous gift. Yeah, someone to come into the home to pay for a few hours of in home care or to pay for a weekend worth a respite care. And we talk about that in a further segment. But but those are things to kind of think outside of the box. Right. Times are different now. Even though they’re different, though your loved one is still the same person. So we are talking to Daphne Davis from Pinnacles Senior Placements and Daphne, tell me a little bit about what you guys do and what areas you serve. Well, what I do is I help families navigate to all the information that’s out there concerning transitional strategies and housing and care options. I’ve been doing that again for seventeen years and I actually meet with families one on one. I gather research and I listen to the families and ten would to find out what their highest values are for they’re given situation, and then we tour together and look at potential care and and housing facilities. And you also do that if Mom or Dad is okay to still live at home and might need in a home care. You can kind of coach them on on you know the best you know are you know types of home care that are available, etc. Is that’s right. That’s exactly right. Again, listening to the highest values. So it’s kind of like having your personal Google person that’s listening to what you want in your situation and you don’t have to figure it out by yourself. Also, you get the gift of seventeen years of vetting people and really paying attention to what’s going to work in your situation with location, cause, language personality, types, changing Cathy, quiet person all those things are really important to have success well and obviously fault, you know, back to our topic, holidays, families are seeing Mama Dad in many cases for the first time. I know that activity on goes up significantly in December. Not necessarily action happens, but they’re starting to see signs and so they’re going into our decision guide and their understanding different, you know, information, and and so I’m sure there’s there’s a million questions that families are having right now. And what are some morning signs that you you know, during the holidays, what would you look for? At this point, you know, when you see a little bit higher agitation or shortness or you know, my mom and dad is being kind of snippy with me. You know, rights going on? Why is my language technique not working? Or they there might be refusing any suggestions from you and they get like I can do that, I can do that. Something might be going on right, that really they’re trying to hold face that fear factor. It is right. Well, and I noticed too that, you know, clutter piles up more than if didn’t used to do before. Mom or Dad are cleaning the house as much as they used to or maintaining the house. Bills aren’t getting paid, you know, forgetfulness to things to do. Those are all kind of signs that it’s starting to you know, that there’s things to be concerned about. Is that correct? There, those are settled, subtle signs and usually getting back to holidays, coming together, other family members who don’t see them may not see those signs or they see them acutely. Right. Can be the people that say, Hey, you know sister, caregiver, have you noticed mom doing this? I haven’t seen Mom for four or five months, right, and now there’s something different and please don’t be offended that you missed it. No, you’re just on the daily a routine with mom or dad. It’s good to have outside, outside vision, you know, and I appreciated that. Like when a cousin of mine would come to town, you know, about twice a year to see mom, she’d say, you know, I noticed your mom does this or does that. I didn’t know to that before and I thought, wow, that’s really good to know, because you don’t think about that information. You know. Like you said, it’s you can’t see the forest for the tree. Sometimes. That’s right. Now you get into an automatic daily routine and almost subliminally you adjust to the needs of whoever you’re caring for. Or would you go to see them if they’re living independently? It’s just like, oh, mom’s just having an off day. Yeah, you know, and you kind of dismiss it a little bit. Oh, yesterday she was fine, but today that’s just about day. It’s cloudy today. So definitely. How do we reach you? You reach me at eight hundred and fifty five, seven, three four, one thousand five hundred, or you can also go to at our website and get a hold of us and we can figure out how we best can help you in your situation. Well, you are certainly a gift and an angel to our families here and Puget Sound so thanks for being on the program. The preceding podcast was provided by Pinnacles Senior Placements LLC and Answers for Elders radio. To contact Pinnacles Senior Placements, go to


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Originally published November 11, 2017

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