Does Mom or Dad Need Help?

Holiday season 2022 it seems the fever-dream of the last 3 years has at least partially broken. More people were going places and seeing other people. Things were a lot freer than in recent years.  Many times a cause for celebration, but also, a time to catch up on family business.

Spending extended time with older loved ones is different from phone calls.

Many adult children notice some things that are off.  Perhaps things that were seen in passing, but got chalked up to a bad connection, or a bad day. Other times, something that’d be addressed ‘later’.

I’ve found people who say or do difficult things choose this path to make a difference. They care, want to help, and they know it’s for the greater good.

As a stager, I do see times where it looks like yes, Mom or Dad need help. I’ll share it with relatives if I know how to contact them, but it’s just not my skill set to go further.

I know these situations can unfold in so many directions. Knowing people who work collaboratively, who know what they’re doing and who can roll with it all without missing a beat is key. Luckily I do, and I’d like you to meet them.

I’ve known Adriane Geiger for a lot of years.

Maybe first for being a volunteer usher, seating concertgoers, then keeping the line to the ladies room moving at Tarrytown’s Music Hall Theater (she is tough!!). We align perfectly.

As Director of Family Advocacy for Westchester’s A Dignified Life, Adriane does not shrink from any of these circumstances.  She embraces them. Her goal is to avoid a crisis and remove burdens from both the loved ones and their family.

Advocate, mediator and friend, she can coach all parties on how to say things (‘Mom I believe this would be good” vs “Mom you should ____”). She helps caregivers identify the reality of their abilities as the first step in framing a plan.

The safety of the loved one is considered first. Closely following, their medical health, then their social needs, meaning they are not alone or isolated. She’s found most families founder because they just don’t know how to start, or where to turn.

Adriane understands families and their challenges, she knows people and programs. Her motto echos mine exactly, ‘Just start the conversation’.

Have probably known Paula Meighan and Carol Lightbody for even longer.
Co-owners of Westchester’s  Changing Places, they and their staff help families navigate the process, and hands-on manage the loved one’s move.

I was surprised and delighted to hear that it wasn’t just adult children reaching out for assistance, but the seniors themselves making their own decisions and choices about moving.

But they do see the holidays as a real check-in time. For adult children to get a real read on things they suggest observing how their loved one actually is living in their house:

  • Do they keep to one small part of it?
  • Can they keep up with mail, and just generally keep it organized?
  • Can they navigate shopping, driving, and stairs by themselves?

Both have CRTS designation, and their ‘first careers’ perfectly combined to do this: management, logistics, nursing, and social work.

I was introduced by a mutual friend, and one of the first projects I was part of had me pack up, then re-settle someone into their new home.

Minimizing any distress is key for really all of us; I’ve never forgotten the trick they taught me: Wrap each drawer’s contents en masse, in tissue. Then, mark each bundle with the location it came from (top left drawer, or 3rd from the top, that sort of thing). Position furniture in new space, then place the bundles to the same drawer in the new place.

They can pretty much handle any of the gritty details, from getting your beloved piano adopted to managing an online auction on your behalf.

Life stuff can be complicated, but it’s even more so if you think you’re the only one going through something.  Too many put things off until their choices diminish, or worse, someone gets hurt.

If a visit home this holiday gave you some pause, please, start a conversation with someone. You’re not alone. You may think you’ll never be able to get through it, but you will.