Each year, during the two-month holiday season, I see an article or two urging adult children to use the holiday visits as an opportunity to spy — discretely, of course — during family gatherings. The goal is to discover how well parents are doing.
When it comes to the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) and the activities of daily living (ADLs), the trick is to observe how well these tasks are accomplished and share those observations with a parent. I know that writers are using the word spy in a puckish manner — trying to add a bit of levity to a serious and potentially stressful family situation, but I’d still like to lose the word.
As we go about helping our parents find ways to maintain independence while aging gracefully, we need to be honest and direct — as much as possible. Sure, it’s difficult to speak about extra support and less independence when a parent who has lead a successful and fulfilling life feels a great sense of loss.
However, the concept of spying, no matter how discrete, just complicates the communication.