Holidays with Aging Parents: Elder Care Expert Has the Prescription for Caregiver Stress

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For many families, the problem with the holidays is family. Elder care expert Esther Koch provides insight into how caregivers of aging parents can bring the joy of the holiday season to the elder care experience.

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A little forgiveness can eliminate years of regret.

For many families the stress of the holiday season is family, especially aging parents. Gerontologist and elder care expert Esther Koch, founder of Encore Management, has a simple yet highly effective prescription for holiday stress relief….reframe the experience. "Use the holidays to change the focus from all that you have to do for your parent to all the experiences you can have with your parent", recommends Koch who also was the primary caregiver to her mother for ten years.

"Your holidays will be joyful if you intend them to be", says Koch. "You may have to start with forgiveness - forgive your parents, forgive your siblings and forgive yourself." She emphasizes, "A little forgiveness can eliminate years of regret."

Koch continues, "As a caregiver, you do need to recognize your parent's limits as well as your own." Adjust commitments whenever necessary for health reasons and don't forget to schedule time for yourself. "Most of all, be in the moment and don't take for granted that your parent will always be as physically and mentally able as they are now", she says.

Koch suggestions the following to make holiday memories. "With just a little thought, the possibilities are limitless and the results may turn out to be some of the most memorable times you will ever share with your parent", she says.

Go to a holiday lighting event; take a drive to see neighborhood Christmas decorations; check out the holiday shopping windows; or buy and trim the tree together.

Go to the Nutcracker or a choir concert; participate in a sing-a-long Messiah; or attend a Christmas Eve service. Rent a holiday movie or watch a holiday TV special.

Visit old family friends or visit the neighborhoods of holidays past. Bring out the old photo albums; take lots of new pictures and print them up right away; or have a family photo with Santa.

Donate food or clothing to a food bank or homeless shelter. Make some special holiday treats or buy some already made.

Teach your parents to shop online or do anything, or everything, with grandchildren.

Koch concludes, "May your life be filled with no regrets; may you see the extraordinary in the ordinary; and may someone be there to brighten your world as you age."

Esther Koch is available for interview. For more info contact: Lorna Garano: lorna garano @ gmail . com or (510) 922-9765

Esther Koch is a gerontologist and elder care advisor based in San Mateo, California. She is the founder and CEO of Encore Management, which provides advisory services and educational products to assist Boomers with the range of issues associated with caring for an aging parent and their own aging. Koch is also a Medicare Aging Network Partner with the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. She was a delegate to the last White House Conference on Aging.

Koch received her graduate degree in gerontology from USC and is a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, the Business Forum on Aging of the American Society on Aging and AARP. In addition to being a Stanford MBA, she is also a CPA and former Chief Financial Officer and PricewaterhouseCoopers tax professional. She left corporate America to pursue her passion for elder care advocacy. Since then she has helped clients navigate the physical, financial, and emotional challenges of aging. Her media interviews have appeared on TV, radio, and in print. Visit her at


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