Holiday Highs and Lows

by Susan Buchbinder, M.S.W., Director of Religious Life

Spending time with family during the holidays is a heartwarming tradition. It can also be a bittersweet experience when you are caring for parents or other loved ones. Whether you live close by and see each other regularly or live far away and visit occasionally, the holidays are gatherings when we tend to notice changes in the physical, cognitive or emotional well- being of our loved ones. Perhaps we see that Mom is slowing down or that Dad isn’t driving as well as before. We may observe memory issues or physical changes that we never noticed before.

In addition, on the Jewish calendar we experience a string of holidays in the fall so the stress factor can really increase, especially for the “sandwich generation” which attends to the needs of both aging parents and children at the same time. My colleagues and I also see a significant rise in hospital visits among our clients in the community and our residents who live in CJE’s skilled care, assisted living and independent living residences.

“Family gatherings at holiday time are opportunities to take measure of changes in a loved one’s well-being.”
—Joan Richman Ente, Manager, Your Eldercare Consultants

What do we do when we notice changes in loved ones? How do we deal with our own holiday stress? Where can we turn for help? The first step is to bring any noticeable changes in our loved ones to the attention of others. Perhaps our in-town siblings may not notice gradual changes in Mom because they see her regularly. Perhaps it is time to accompany a parent to a doctor’s appointment and express our concerns. Is it time for an annual review of medications? Do new tests need to be performed? Bringing the family together for a pow-wow—including Mom or Dad— while everyone is in town can be difficult, but critical.

CJE SeniorLife can help in many ways. One of the most effective ways is through family consultations with CJE’s Your Eldercare Consultants service. “When invited to help, our staff of experienced care managers can jumpstart family conversations about practical matters such as housing options, financial planning, home care, transportation, driving, health and safety and can offer many pragmatic, affordable solutions,” says Joan Richman Ente, Manager of Your Eldercare Consultants. She adds: “When it comes to talking about tender topics like loneliness, quality of life, forgetfulness and risk, we try to help all family members find the words and find their way through times of change.”

It is also important for all family caregivers to take care of themselves. The stress of everyday life, plus the responsibilities of caregiving, can take its toll. Some suggestions for dealing with stress include regular exercise, making time for ourselves, joining a caregiver support group and simplifying our work load. CJE SeniorLife has many helpful services to make life easier for you and your loved one such as: Your Eldercare Consultants, Adult Day Services, Respite Care at Lieberman Center or Weinberg Community, Counseling Services and Support Groups, Kosher To Go © meals and holiday Kosher Catering as well as Shalom Bus and Medicar Transportation.

CJE SeniorLife wishes you and your family a happy and healthy year!

Choose CJE SeniorLife for all your caregiver and older adult needs. Call us at 773.508.1000 for more information and visit our website at to explore our full continuum of care.