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TALKING TURKEY AT THANKSGIVING

At Thanksgiving, some of us express concern about guests spiking the apple cider.


This year we are confronted with concern about spiking COVID-19 cases and not inviting guests.


Thanksgiving dinner is traditionally the time to talk turkey, catch up, and check-in with family members. Extended families tend to congregate as adult children who moved out of town migrate back to spend the holiday with parents, siblings, and other relatives. Depending upon their geographic proximity and emotional connection to aging relatives, it may be the first time they are confronted with or recognize cognitive impairment and/or physical limitations. Or it may confirm suspicions or fears of a health decline and the need to appropriately address the situation with other family members.


Maybe that “crazy” uncle who always says inappropriate things at family gatherings is now actually suffering from the onset of dementia. Perhaps your mother was able to mask her dementia symptoms during brief phone calls with you, but is unable to do so when physically face-to-face. While it can certainly be distressing to witness any relative’s declining cognitive or physical health, the Thanksgiving holiday was often the opportunity for the family to congregate and address care needs.


But what about this year?


Public health officials and politicians across the country are discouraging or advising against extended family gatherings. While such advice should be followed, how will appropriate assessments be conducted and interventions discussed? If you cannot safely dine together, consider arranging a virtual Thanksgiving dinner. Really, am I seriously suggesting another Zoom event? I certainly am. Put a laptop in the middle of the dining room table and eat in a virtual box. Despite the challenges of 2020, you can still take turns discussing what each member of the family is thankful about. You can still share stories and reminisce about happier and healthier times. If you unfortunately lost a family member to COVID-19 or any other illness, you can honor their memory. If you are concerned about a parent’s health, you can try to ask non-threatening questions to elicit information. While it is not the ideal or preferred method, it is better than no interaction at all.


Unfortunately, social isolation and loneliness have always been risk factors for older adults. The COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly forcing seniors into isolation from their friends and relatives. And we know that social interaction is essential to maintaining good health. If you are concerned about the health or welfare of an aging relative and need advice about estate or long-term care planning, please do not hesitate to reach out to Goidel Law Group for a complimentary consultation. Our virtual and physical doors are open to you.


We regret that Thanksgiving Dinner 2020 may not be ideal. But look at the bright side. At least nobody will have to fight over the wishbone or that last piece of apple pie.

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