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Elder care: Celebrate the holidays with joy even if death in family

eldercare031411_optBY CAROL ABAYA
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
THE SANDWICH GENERATION

Question: "Our family has always celebrated the holidays with lavish family parties. My mother passed away this past summer, and my father doesn’t want to have a big family dinner. Our family has always enjoyed our time together, but we don't want to offend my father. Advise please."

Answer: Listen to your heart and at the same time be patient with your father.

It’s natural to feel sad that a loved one is no longer here. It’s OK to grieve and have tears running down your cheek. The first year is always the hardest as there will be a “hole” in the fabric of the celebration. But the fabric of life needs to be reinforced, not ripped apart.

Everyone should look for a new meaning to the celebration by cherishing who your mother was and for those things she gave to everyone - including your father.

Keep the family get together tradition so all generations enjoy the holidays even though a key loved one is no longer here.

To make some simple changes, reach out to others to share the day with your family. New people can add a new dimension to the holidays and be a diversion from the fact that your mother is not with you.

Question: "We usually go out for New Year’s dinner with a group of friends. We want my parents to join us this year. They are in their 80s and fun-loving. They refuse. How can we get them to join us?"

Answer: Why are you pushing them to do something they obviously do not want to do? They may feel they have nothing in common with you friends and would be bored.

Question: "My mother, 79, loves to bake for the holidays. Because of arthritis her hands are very painful, and her memory is getting fuzzy. We’re afraid she’s hurt herself or start a fire. We’d hate to tell her she can’t bake this year."

Answer: Holidays are a time for family and fun. So just extend this concept to a “Baking Day.” Have family members or a friend “bake” with her. Make a part of he process. It might only be for company and helping with some tasks she has difficulty doing. It will ease your concerns about her putting the cookies in the oven and forgetting about them.

Today there are utensils that make baking easier and safer. Nonskid lightweight mixing bowls. Battery operated electric sifters, whisks, and mixers.

Traditions -- even new ones -- help maintain self-esteem, an important element in everyone’s life. So, encourage and help her -- provided she truly wants to continue baking.

The Sandwich Generation is reader interactive and welcomes questions and comments. Contact Abaya via her web site www.sandwichgeneration.com or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . She does not respond to comments or questions posted on this site.

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