Home Again for the Holidays. Pay Attention to Aging this Holiday Season

Unlike last year, being "Home for the Holidays" is a possibility. Getting together allows us to see loved ones that we may not have seen in a while. Take proper COVID precautions and notice any aging or health changes in older family members before a crisis occurs. Then think about your longevity plans.

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Home Again for the Holidays. Pay Attention to Aging this Holiday Season
7 Min Read October 30th, 2017 Updated:November 12th, 2021
James Kelly

LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

It is coming, the holiday season. This holiday season will be somewhat normal compared to last year in the middle of the COVID-19 virus crisis. Families are planning to be together, making sure everyone is either vaccinated or has tested negative.

AAA is predicting more than 53.4 million people to travel, the highest single-year increase since 2005. The United States Department of Transportation says more people travel for Thanksgiving than they do for Christmas and New Year’s. But travel for all fall holidays is bringing American families back together.

Travel to a destination 50 miles or more away increases by 54% over Thanksgiving weekend and 23% during Christmas and New Year’s. If you are traveling or the family is coming to you, paying attention to older family members you may not have seen in a while is very important. 

Plus, thinking about your own longevity is also something to ponder. Planning for long-term care is all about family, and this year - the family is getting back together.

Holidays Can Bring Depression

However, holidays can cause times of sadness, possibly leading to depression. For this holiday season, the potential for sadness and depression are even greater since many family members have not seen each other in a while. Changes due to changing health and aging can be even more dramatic when you have not seen the person in a long while.

It is not the holiday itself that can bring this depression. What gets people sad are memories of how people were when they were younger. The shock of aging can be much bigger this year if you have not seen loved ones recently in person.

Pay Attention 

There are several reasons to pay special attention to older family members when you see them this holiday season. Notice if they are unable to participate in celebrations as they once did. Are they having mobility or balance problems? What about confusion or memory problems?

Declining health could be impacting their ability to do normal living activities that could be endangering them and affecting their independence. 

If you see this decline with older loved ones, be sure they get the attention and care they need. Often they will deny having any problems but let your eyes be your judge. Watch them interact in their environment and see if they have started to lose their independence. 

If you have older family members who appear to need help, a family discussion can lead to some care plan that will maintain their health and safety and preserve their independence for as long as possible.

Things to Look For

Many experts say it’s not unusual to spot personality or behavior changes that go unnoticed by those who see your loved one regularly. It is essential to speak up about these issues with other family members.

Some of the items to look for include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Neglect of physical appearance or basic hygiene
  • Neglect of normal medical needs
  • Trouble performing routine household tasks and activities
  • Personality changes
  • Wobbliness, clumsiness, or history of falls
  • Lack of or delayed response to sudden sounds or loud noises
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing
  • Difficulty answering simple questions
  • Repeating the same story over and over again

If you observe these issues, the family should discover how advanced the problem may be, whether it has an immediate impact on health and well-being and whether the financial issues are being addressed properly.

“Your estate or elder law attorney will help prepare key documents such as powers of attorneys and healthcare directives. A good estate lawyer can also help the family feel confident that they are making the best possible decisions for future financial security and peace of mind during an otherwise challenging time.”

Kristina R. Hess, a San Diego estate planning attorney.

Family members should see if the loved one has Long-Term Care Insurance, a will and power-of-attorney, and other documents which will protect them and the family.

If they own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, get free - no-obligation help with making a claim - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News. Even if they do not own a policy, help with a proper plan of care and finding quality caregivers and facilities are available.

“As Americans live longer lives, it is more vital than ever for families to address vital issues including Long-Term Care planning.”

Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).

The AALTCI is a national consumer advocacy and trade organization. They established November as Long-Term Care Awareness Month in 2001 with the goal of encouraging discussions between generations.

“Even a few minutes to cover some key issues can avoid years of family stress and angst.”

Jesse Slome

The Association’s studies have found that too few families discuss the issue prior to the time when an actual need for care arises.

Long-Term Care Insurance has become an important part of retirement planning. Over 11.6 billion dollars in Long-Term Care Insurance benefits were paid in 2020 alone. Millions of people have LTC Insurancees in-force but many times family members and friends have no clue.

“I often refer to it as the ‘silent purchase’ because few aging parents tell their adult child they have this protection in place.”

Jesse Slome.

It may be too late for an older family member to purchase a Long-Term Care Insurance policy since health underwriting and age may prevent them from obtaining coverage. Changing health and aging are significant reasons why the purchase of Long-Term Care Insurance is something people do in their 40’s and 50’s when premiums are much lower and health is generally better.

“People today understand the physical, emotional, and financial burdens that long-term health care can have on a family. Most of the people I speak with are ages 45 to 60 and have lived through an extended care event of a parent, grandparent, friend, neighbor even a co-worker. So many people have some personal experience they know they must address the issue before retiring.

Matt McCann, a leading specialist in Long-Term Care Planning.

There are a number of resources for consumers to help them educate themselves on Long-Term Care planning.

This website, www.ltcnews.com, has numerous resources and articles. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services has a website devoted to this issue: www.longtermcare.acl.gov

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a full section on their website to Long-Term Care:www.naic.org  

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance: www.aaltci.org

U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. says the issue of aging is a very important public issue.

“All of us are aging no matter what age we are at, to be clear.”

Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., Former U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral

The Surgeon General under former President Obama and President Biden said he had a conversation with his own parents about aging and their future needs.

“The conversations we have had is how they can stay healthy and independent as they get older recognizing they want to be part of their children’s lives but they don’t want to be dependent on their kids for everything,” he said. 

Don't forget those older family members who may live in a Long-Term Care facility. While they may not be able to join the rest of the family at holiday celebrations, you should visit them if the facility allows it and you have been vaccinated. 

Family and friends' visits during the holidays can make life better for older adults in care facilities. Barbara Dunn Swanson, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, suggests planning ahead to make the most of these visits. 

Read her hints here: Plan for Holiday Visits with Older Adults | News (iastate.edu)

Does Your Retirement Plan Consider Long-Term Care?

The consequences of aging will impact you and your family. A retirement plan which includes Long-Term Care Insurance can safeguard your future retirement income and assets and ease the burden on your family members down the road. 

Make this holiday season a time to discuss these issues and make plans for yourself and your family to avoid crisis management. Remember, caregiving is demanding on family members, and professional care is expensive and getting more costly due to increasing demand and higher labor costs.

Holidays are a great time to start your online research to plan for your future aging and long-term care needs. This way, your family won't feel the pressure and burden on how to take care of you. 

Enjoy the holidays and get ready for a successful and healthy new year.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

A vital part of retirement planning should include affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. You probably want to avoid being dependent on other people. Family caregivers face physical and emotional stress and anxiety, and professional care is expensive.

Long-Term Care Insurance offers guaranteed tax-free benefits so you can choose the type of care you want in the setting you desire. Protect income and assets and give loved ones the time to be family rather than caregivers.

Act before you retire and start your research today.

Resources on LTC NEWS

LTC NEWS offers several tools and resources to help you in your research for a planning solution or help your family find the appropriate care for a loved one at the time of crisis. 

To help you plan for the future costs and burdens of changing health and aging, LTC NEWS can put together several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Seek Professional Advice

Experts suggest using a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options available to you and your family. Insurance rates are regulated, so no insurance agent, agency, or financial advisor can give you special deals. However, premiums do vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage.

A specialist who works with the top companies can match your age, health, family history, and other factors and find you the best coverage at the best value. A specialist will save you money, and you will have the peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

Find Quality Caregivers and Long-Term Care Facilities

If your parent or loved one needs care now - or soon - you will need to find the appropriate care in the right setting depending on their needs.

Take a moment and read - 

Get Expert Help Filing an LTC Insurance Claim

LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you, or a loved one complete the claim's process with your Long-Term Care Insurance policy. You can also support finding quality caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

Benefits of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.  

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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