By Mark Friedman
I have not seen my parents (that cute couple on my website home page and on the cover of our brochure) in person since last Thanksgiving. My sister and I had been visiting regularly just to help out with things, but all that changed in March when COVID-19 entered the landscape. So the decision was made that this year my family would be with them.
The original plan was for my wife, my son and I to pick up my daughter at college on Saturday prior to Thanksgiving (about a 9-hour drive from our home), and then continue on to my parents home—about an additional two hours on the road.
Our plan was always to put their safety first. And we felt confident we had achieved our goal. My wife and oldest son and I all work from home and have been symptom free. My college daughter gets tested every week and has also been clear. We had planned to all be tested two days before we left and would quarantine before heading to my parents. In essence, we created our own little “family bubble.”
We would drive straight through, only stopping for gas and restroom breaks. Our plan was to spend six days with my parents. Other than (maybe) outside at a social distance, we would not see others while visiting. Then, we would drive back in one day. But that plan changed.
My daughter was not comfortable with the plan, showing concern that while she had been testing negative there was still risk for my folks. As much as she wanted to see them, she decided to opt out. We understood and respected her decision.
After much discussion, it was decided that I would make the journey alone. I drove straight through, stopping only for gas. When I pulled in, they were both waiting inside the garage door. Mom had a big smile on her face and tears streaming down her cheek. The first thing she said to me as she hugged me was it was the first hug she had received since last March. As Dad hugged me I came to realize the true impact of social isolation and the value of something as simple as a hug.
Immediately after my Mom made sure I ate enough (it’s what Moms do), and she dutifully reviewed all the meals we would have while I was there, my folks presented me with a list of things they wanted help getting done. While this was happening, I made a point to pay close attention to what they do and how they do it. Here are my observations:
This was my task list:
We had a great visit, with tears flowing freely as we parted. There were numerous precious memories during the visit, but the embrace they gave me when I first arrived and the hug they gave me when I left topped the bill. I can still feel both!
Here are six steps for a successful holiday experience that we took away from the visit:
About the Author: Mark Friedman is the Owner of Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore. He is passionate about seniors ability to age in place. The goal of his agency is to set a new standard in home care in Massachusetts first by delivering an exceptional home care experience in through highly trained caregivers and case managers; secondly by becoming a significant connection for elders to resources and services in the 75 communities his company serves. Friedman writes and leads continuous education with NASW, ANCC and EAB credits. He has taught in the Lasell College ELDER certificate program, guest lectured at the Tepper School of Business, Harvard Business School Executive Education, Emerson University and others. He is a member of the Private Duty Advisory Committee of the Home Care Alliance of MA and a founding member and Vice Chair of the Home Care Association of America Massachusetts Chapter. He has also served as the national Chair of the Senior Helpers Owners Council for over 5 years.