We know where you are—you just got back from the holidays and Mom is...well...not like she used to be. She wanted Christmas smaller and simpler this year. No light display, no gingerbread, the small tree. Which is fine, it really is, and maybe it’s nothing. But maybe it’s a sign that Mom’s aging and things have to change. Maybe it’s a cause for concern.

Our parents are getting older and the holidays afford us some perspective to see how those aging knees are taking their toll. But how can you tell whether it’s a cause for concern? What are the next steps? What if it is? What then?

We know where you are—we help families every day facing those same same questions. We have since the 1960s, when Tabitha became the premier provider of Elder health care services in the state of Nebraska. We’ve been there and we can help.

Here are our best first steps in helping your parents age. There’s no “how to” guide to help your mom go through her aging journey, no “what to expect” book. Which is a shame because helping your parents through their final years is just as life changing as welcoming a new baby, seeing your first-born to college or saying “I do.” We know, and we’re here to help.

Step 1 - You Need a Plan

Families with a plan have more choices. What is the plan if Mom falls and breaks her hip? What’s the plan if you have to move her into a senior community? What if Mom starts forgetting things? Knowing ‘the plan’ for these various situations will help you have more choices and will help you make calm decisions instead of stress-filled ones when the time comes.

Most Elders move into assisted living and skilled nursing communities in haste - after a fall or a surgery determines they can’t live independently any longer. Most of the time, these decisions are made quickly, sometimes without everyone on the same page, surrounded by stress. You don’t want Mom to have to say goodbye to her home in a few hours. You want everyone to be on board with the decisions before they have to be made.

Download our free eBook series for tips on making your plan.

Step 2 - Communicate...Communicate Some More

Having an aging conversation isn’t easy. It’s not easy to have it with yourself and it’s sure as heck awkward to bring it up to Mom. The goal is to start the conversation, but start it slowly, gradually taking shape over time.

Maybe you have lunch with Mom and talk about a movie you saw. “I just watched this movie where the main character had Alzheimer’s disease. That scared me.” Then, let the conversation bloom from there.

Or maybe a relative passed away. “You remember when Aunt Susie died? She was in the hospital the entire time. It would have been nice if she had been home.”

“I just read this article about how people should have advance directives on file. Have you thought about yours?”

It’s not going to happen in an afternoon. It’s going to take multiple conversation starters over the course of days, months, even years. But opening that conversation channel will help you and your mom be on the same page when it comes to her care. Peace of mind for both of you that you’re making the right decisions.

Step 3 - Build your Team

You know it takes a village, right? We see this all the time, families want to care for their own, without help. Mom took care of you, right? It’s the least you can do. But it’s not always the best you can do.

People who care for their aging parents are often spending 20 hours a week driving to doctor appointments, managing medications, taking care of the house, cooking meals. That on top of full-time jobs, kids of their own still at home, work deadlines, soccer practices...it all leads to caregiver burnout and high stress levels.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are aging services to help with non-medical chores around the house, companionship, day-time senior activities, medical services to help with chronic conditions, and even services who help you plan what’s next for Mom.

Like EngAGE by Tabitha, a membership service that helps you plan for the next steps, with perks along the way for Mom and Dad.