7 Ways to Help Mom and Dad Get the Rest They Need

As we age, our bodies begin to experience physical changes that affect everything in life, including our sleep patterns. Many necessary medications may also have side effects that can negatively impact your sleeping schedule. That’s why so many seniors struggle to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re looking for ways to help out mom and dad to get the rest they need to maintain optimal health, try these seven solutions for a proper rest.

1.    White Noise

If your parent’s bedroom is heavily impacted by interrupting sounds from the outside, you might want to try using a device that creates white noise. White noise drowns out and absorbs peripheral sounds that can prevent people from falling asleep. This simple addition can drastically improve the quality of sleep, without being awoken by surrounding noises.

2.    Melatonin

Your body naturally produces the chemical melatonin, which works to set your body’s circadian rhythm. But as one grows older, melatonin production declines and doesn’t deliver the same impact it once did. An over-the-counter melatonin can help to reset their sleep patterns and promote sleep, but always speak to the doctor before use.

3.    Tryptophan

If you’ve ever been tired after eating turkey, it’s the tryptophan to blame. Tryptophan is an amino acid that promotes serotonin - a chemical that works to regulate your sleep. So, assist your parents to stock up on tryptophan-rich foods that they can eat at dinner or as a snack before bed. Eggs, nuts, seeds, and tofu are a few options.

4.    Block Out Light

Your body’s sleep patterns are regulated by the exposure to light and darkness. When there’s light present, your brain signals to the other parts of the body that it’s time to feel awake. If you switch out your parent’s blinds to black out curtains or simply provide an eye mask, their brains will signal to the rest of the body’s functions that it’s time to sleep.

5.    Soothing Bath

Running a hot bath with Epsom salts will soothe and relax otherwise aching and jittery muscles that might be keeping them up at night. Plus, the hot water will also work to increase their internal body temperature so when your mom or dad gets out of the water, they’ll experience a quick decrease in temperature that’ll assist them in getting to sleep easier.

6.    Alter Medications as Needed

Many seniors take medication that has side effects that can impact their sleep. If you suspect it’s the medication that’s the problem, take the initiative to talk to their doctor. They may be able to change the dosage, or suggest an alternative medication or approach.

7.    Increase Daily Exercise

Try setting up an exercise program for your mom and dad that ensures they get 30 minutes a day of light aerobic exercise. Believe it or not, aerobic exercise has been proven to improve sleep patterns.

Sleep is important to maintain optimal health, especially in your later years. If you notice your mom and dad are struggling to get a proper night’s rest, try these easy to implement solutions, and talk to a professional who can help you better understand their needs.

At Assurance Home Care, the health and safety of your loved ones mean everything to us. Get in touch to learn more about senior health tips!

-          Stephen Bleeker

Why Declutter

Guest Blog by Bobbie McGowan of RE/MAX Affiliates Geoff & Bobbie Realty Ltd.

As the years pass, we collect mementos in our homes. Some have tremendous sentimental value, whether it’s your grandfather’s war medals or the snow globe from your last vacation. Other items simply seem to collect with no thought or objective, from magazines to old clothes to mismatched flatware. When the time has come to downsize from the family home, it becomes time to say goodbye to many of these items, some more treasured than others.

There are many situations that call for decluttering. Are you getting ready to downsize and need to pare down your possessions? Are you sick of storing junk in the basement and want to turn it into a hangout zone for the grandkids? Has an accumulation of stuff has started to affect the enjoyment and comfort of your home? Here are some convincing advantages of decluttering your life:

Cleanliness

When you begin hiding stuff inside other stuff, or shoving things out of sight for cleaning purposes, it’s time to address the real problem of hoarding too many items. As thing begin to pile up, it can quickly turn any surface or space into an unclean environment. Dust mites and allergens for example, can build up and settle, contributing to a stuffy environment. Decluttering is necessary to keep your home nice and clean. Especially as the years pass and it becomes harder to bend down and clean in those tiny crevices, leaner is cleaner.

Safety

For some people who experience a more intense level of hoarding, this can actually place themselves and loved ones at a greater risk when it comes to safety concerns.

In extreme cases, clutter can start to cause a safety concern. Is clutter blocking access to a doorway or window? Is there junk in the way of the furnace or electrical panel or blocking ventilation? This makes it difficult to get out quickly in an emergency situation and increases the risk of a fire. 

In addition, dust naturally clings to clutter –whether it’s old furniture, clothing, or books. And of course, dust contributes to poor air quality, which exacerbates symptoms for those with allergies, asthma, or other lung difficulties. Decluttering clears the air – literally.

Peace of Mind

When you spend the time tossing out items that you no longer use and organize your living space, it means that you can spend less time having to look for items and deal with a disorganized environment in the future. Thus, you get more time for yourself to relax. Many studies have proven that when you organize your living environment, it directly benefits your emotional and mental state of mind. It boosts your ability to focus, along with concentration and even creativity.

Makes Downsizing a Breeze

Do you have too much home now that the kids have moved out? Are you tired of paying money to heat and cool such a large house? Is going up and down the stairs becoming a challenge? When it’s time to downsize and you need to fit your life’s worth of stuff into a smaller space, decluttering is a must. There’s nothing worse than feeling like your new apartment or condo is bursting at the seams with belongings that bring you no joy. By spending time sifting through, tossing away, and donating your excess items to those in need, you can help yourself and others, while making the downsizing process much easier.

Don’t let clutter stand between you and your best life. This spring, reward yourself by decluttering.

Give Mom and Dad a Hand with Housekeeping Services

Continuing to live full, independent lives at home well into our golden years is the goal for many of us. But as our backs start to ache, our knees start to lock up, and arthritis sets in, everyday chores can become more of a challenge. Retiring at home is the dream, but it doesn’t always feel that way on laundry day or when trying to vacuum the house. Climbing stairs, bending over, and maneuvering throughout the house gets harder and harder.

A housekeeping service can help bridge the gap by taking care of these small tasks for Mom and Dad. You can give your parents the freedom and independence of remaining in the comfort of their own home, while ensuring that their living environment stays clean and healthy.

Personalized Cleaning Services

One of the best aspects of hiring a housekeeping service for your Mom and Dad is that it can be tailored and customized according to what they need. Whether it entails giving the entire home a thorough, deep cleaning, doing laundry, organizing kitchen drawers, or simply focusing on the tasks that are difficult for your parents to do, such as vacuuming and mopping - they get to decide what gets focused on and cleaned.

A Clean House is a Healthy House

When you do begin to notice that your parents’ home is looking unkempt, it’s important to take into consideration that pride may come into play. When your parents begin to struggle with those everyday tasks that they were so on top of initially, it can be a difficult thing to admit to when it’s time to ask for help. They may be embarrassed to invite people in and may begin to isolate themselves. Daily or even weekly visits from a housekeeper specializing in elder care provide social stimulation and companionship for Mom and Dad.

A Clean Environment Helps Promote a Positive State of Mind

Living in a state of chaos where the home is messy and unclean can create a negative environment that can impact the state of mind and wellbeing of your parents. By keep the home clean and fresh, it can clear out that negative energy and allow them to feel proud of their home and feel better about themselves.

Why not give Mom and Dad a helping hand with housekeeping services? Assurance Home caregivers are happy to help with a range of light housekeeping duties, from making beds and changing linens to light dusting and gardening. Call 613-706-1623 to learn more about how we can help make daily life a little easier for Mom and Dad.

-       Stephen Bleeker

4 Steps for Choosing a Home Care Provider for Aging Parents

When it comes to selecting a home care provider for an aging parent, careful consideration is essential. Similar to choosing a daycare for your children, it can be a very stressful experience for Mom and Dad to have a stranger take care of them on a daily basis.

To help you feel confident about your choice and to help Mom and Dad feel comfortable with their home care provider, follow these tips to guide you in your home care provider selection process.

Identify Level of Care Needed

Before you can feel confident about the home care provider that you hire, you first must fully comprehend the level of assistance and care that Mom and Dad require. Whether it’s meal preparation, mobility, bathing, or simple companionship, you must know exactly what is needed. From there you can create a thorough list so that you can ensure each person you interview can provide the care that is needed.

Hire Someone Who Cares

Introducing a stranger into your parent’s home can be a very stressful experience, especially during the initial phase while they are getting used to their caregiver. But in order to ease the tension and make Mom and Dad feel comfortable, it’s important to hire an individual who is caring. When you interview potential candidates, try to get to know more about their background and why they chose to get into this field of work. Those with the right intentions who seek to help others and ease suffering, are the type of people you want to care for your parent.

Must Provide Meal Prep

Meal preparation is usually a must when choosing a home care provider for aging parents. Aside from the difficulty of buying groceries and cooking a meal, it’s important that our aging parents receive the proper diet that they require, according to their health requirements and of course, obtaining the nutritional value that is necessary as they get older. Having home care that can take care of meals each day is always a priority to keep in mind.

Must Provide Stimulus

In addition to meal prep, stimulus is imperative to keep your parent’s body and mind active and engaged. So be sure that whomever you select can spend time engaging with your parent through conversation, games, or even daily walks.

Introducing a stranger into your parent’s daily life to spend time and take care of them can be a scary experience for them to endure. That’s why the finding a great home care provider is so important. Use these tips to help guide you in selecting the best person for Mom and Dad.

-       Stephen Bleeker

4 Reasons Why Consistent In-Home Health Care Is Important

Establishing a comfortable and trusting relationship with any form of home health care provider is largely based on consistency. Daily structure and routine give Mom and Dad that level of familiarity and comfort that they need. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease or is experiencing cognitive decline, structure and routine are imperative. 

In addition to feeling comfortable with their provider, consistency also important when it comes to maintaining optimal physical, mental, emotional, and social health through meal prep, medication reminders, and companionship.

Read on to learn more about why having consistent in home health care is so important.

Establishes Routine

As we all age, we begin to find comfort in routine and familiarity. And for our aging parents, establishing some form of routine becomes even more essential.

It can be an overwhelming experience when it comes to introducing a health care worker into the home and becomes involved in the daily life of an aging parent. Having a stranger take care of you is something that we all can agree would feel unnerving initially. But gradually, with a consistent routine in place, it allows patients to establish a relationship with their caregiver and feel at ease.

Ensures Meds are Administered Properly

For many elderly patients, consistent dosages for medication are also a key factor when it comes to hiring home health care. Medication must be taken on an accurate and timely schedule as prescribed by the doctor. In-home caregivers can assist with medication reminders, reading labels, and opening medication bottles, which can be a huge help.

Ensures that Diets are Followed

Is Mom diabetic? Does Dad have to follow a low-cholesterol diet? Getting the right nutrition is so important, but it’s not always easy. Between trudging through sleet and snow to pick up groceries, to prepping meals safely in the kitchen, it can be a challenge as your parents age especially if they have a chronic condition such as MS or Alzheimer’s disease. In-home caregivers can assist with picking up groceries and preparing healthy meals to ensure optimal nutrition. Meals can be prepared according to strict dietary needs.

Keeps Mom and Dad Engaged

As we age, our support network starts to fall away. We lose touch with old friends, and our close confidants may pass on. Caregivers can provide companionship that is so important for stimulus and engagement. Being able to go for a walk outside for fresh air, play cards or simply converse with another person throughout the day is a factor that highlights how necessary consistent care really is. The caregiver is carefully matched to Mom or Dad based on personality, interests, and skill set. Mom or Dad begins to form a bond with the caregiver and each visit is a highlight.

Whether it’s administering medication on a daily basis, providing meal prep, or even providing stimulus that allows Mom or Dad to combat social isolation – consistent caregiving is absolutely essential.

-          Stephen Bleeker

4 Common Signs You’re Headed for Caregiver Burnout – and How to Steer Clear

When you take on the responsibility of being a caregiver for a family member, there is a lot of pressure on your shoulders. From doctors’ appointments to late-night scares to the daily grind of meal prep, housekeeping, hygiene, medication reminders, it can get overwhelming. With the level of dedication and time commitment required, it’s no wonder that burnout among family caregivers is so common.

If you’re a family caregiver or have a loved one who is, here are four common signs of caregiver burnout that can help identify when it may be time to seek some help.

Trouble Sleeping

Falling into this role can place a tremendous amount of stress on a caregiver. And all of that anxiety and stress can affect and impede sleep. Laying in bed with countless nights of tossing and turning without being able to shut off your mind and get that rest you so desperately need starts to create a domino effect throughout others areas of your life. If you have trouble sleeping the full night through or feel exhausted throughout the day, it could be time to seek outside help.

Irritability

Towards the earlier phases of burnout, an increased level of irritability can also develop, especially if the caregiver is struggling to get a decent amount of sleep each night. You can expect increased edginess, with a tendency to snap at others. Do you feel short fused in non-provoked situations? Do you feel angered or annoyed at having to do simple tasks? This could be a sign that you’re starting to burnout. 

Anger

As the burnout escalates, feelings of irritability can often transform that short fuse into feelings of anger. Bursts of anger can occur more frequently, often for seemingly irrational reasons or situations. When the smallest thing can be all it takes to instigate anger, this is a sure sign that caregiving is having an effect.

Unfocused Thoughts

Generally, as feelings of anger progress, it can lead to a certain level of mental and emotional exhaustion where thoughts become unfocused, and retaining or remembering everyday things become a challenge. This is no surprise as the combination of lack of sleep, increased stress and anxiety, along with bouts of anger, can deplete the mind and body and impede your ability to concentrate.

Taking care of a loved one demands the investment of your whole physical, mental, and emotional self. And as much as we’d like to provide the care we know Mom and Dad deserve, burnout becomes a common factor that signals when we no longer can take on that level of responsibility alone. When your body and mind begin to suffer, it’s crucial to understand that you must first take care of yourself before you can take care of another.

You don’t have to do it alone. Call 613-706-1578 to discover how we can help you navigate this difficult time and get the care you and your family need and deserve.

-       Stephen Bleeker

Is Home Care Right for Dad?

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Are you noticig gradual signs that Dad is beginning to slow physically or experiencing cognitive decline? It can be a hard reality to face if Dad is having difficulty preparing meals, running errands, or is starting to be forgetful. As Dad transitions to his elder years, it’s a situation that may eventually require a conversation about where to go next. When you begin to worry about his safety and recognize that you can no longer provide the level of care that he needs, it’s time to consider your options to learn whether home care is right for Dad.

Here are some factors to look for that will tell you it’s time.

You Want Your Dad to Be Safe

Of course, safety is always the biggest concern when Dad has reached a point where you fear for when he may be alone. Even with the amount of care you provide, it may come to a point where you need help. He could require much more round-the-clock care, or you could just need help with checking on Dad every couple days to make sure his home is safe, clean, and comfortable.

You Can’t Provide the Level of Care Required

This is one of the main factors that highlights when it’s time to really talk about hiring a home care service for a family member. As much as you want to be there and care for Dad, it simply isn’t always possible. Between your family, work, and simply not having the knowledge, skills or strength to help bathe Dad, help him get dressed, prepare meals, do light housekeeping, or run errands. Home care can fill in the gaps when family is unable to provide round-the-clock care.

Remove Pressure

It can be extremely difficult to commit to having your Dad cared for by someone you don’t know very well. It’s common to have feelings of guilt when you can’t care for him yourself. But it’s important to acknowledge to reality of the situation and recognize that you truly are doing what is best for your dad, while removing some of that pressure that’s been placed on you. Caregivers are carefully selected to be the right match for your parent, in terms of abilities, interests, and personality. Over time, caregivers become like a part of the family, too.

He’s Recovering from Something

If your loved one has undergone surgery or a health scare of some sort – whether heart attack, stroke or some other ailment, they will need the proper assistance with in their recovery. For instance, if Dad slipped on the ice and broke his hip, you may not be strong enough to help him with bathing or getting up to use the bathroom. If Dad is recovering from an illness, he may need help with errands and light housekeeping. 

We always want what’s best for our parents. As they grow older and begin to falter physically or mentally, we want them to be safe. I’s important to recognize when we are no longer able to provide the level of care and support they require. Home care is a service that can provide the right care and comfort for your dad while alleviating some of the pressure placed on you. With home care, Dad can maintain independence and stay at home.

-       Stephen Bleeker

Why Visiting Grandparents Can be More Rewarding Than You Realize

For many people, visiting grandparents is something that often only occurs when there’s a special occasion involved, even if they live around the corner. But it’s important to remember that for many seniors, life can become very lonely.  According to the 2012 International Federation Aging report, the need for seniors to become and remain socially connected to their community is the number one issue facing Canada’s elderly population. As their friends and loved ones begin to pass, isolation from others becomes a real impediment to mental, emotional, and physical wellness. Lack of financial resources or even losing the ability to drive are other factors that can further isolate many seniors.    

Grandchildren have a way of lifting the spirits of Grandma and Grandpa, reinvigorating them with purpose, companionship, and that youthful vigour. But it’s a mutual benefit for both. Visiting your grandparents is not only rewarding for them, but it can be rewarding for you as well.

Strengthen Family Bond

Spending time with your grandparents allows you both to formulate a bond that may not have existed previously, or was fragile to begin with. By visiting them more frequently, you can really get to know them and they can get to know you, while also encouraging your other family members to get more involved. You’d be surprised at just how much you might have in common with them.

Learn About Your Family History

You’d be amazed at the stories that your grandparents have. Whether it’s about your parents, your relatives, or any of the epic, historic events that they’ve experienced throughout their lives - there’s really no better way to get to know some history about your family, and hear some great stories.

Give and Receive for Both

Sometimes, it’s often the smallest gestures that can really make all the difference. Whether it’s a phone call or a face-to-face conversation, those interactions can completely lighten their day and help to stimulate their mind and memories, which in turn, can improve their emotional and mental well-being. Simultaneously, as you encourage that engagement from your grandparents, it can make you feel great knowing that you’re simply helping to brighten their day.

Grandparents Can Say Things Parents Can’t

Hanging out with grandparents can be the therapeutic conversation you often need because they can often say what parents simply can’t. They can be your voice of reason, and provide you with undivided attention when you need someone to listen. Since they aren’t your parents, they can provide a broader perspective and can provide you with the advice that can be just the thing you maybe didn’t want, but needed to hear.

Just Spending Time

Visiting your grandparents doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Just pop in after school or work one day with some cookies you picked up at the bakery along the way, or some extra paper towels because Grandma ran out. You don’t have to sit and chat about the old days either; simply come over and watch the Sens game or catch up on the latest episode of The Bachelor with Grandma. Simply the act of spending time together and providing companionship is often all that’s needed.

So make the time and effort to spend more time with your grandparents. With the hectic schedules of life today, it can be hard to carve out time for ourselves, let alone others. But the power you can have in brightening their day, while helping to improve their well-being, can be such as rewarding experience for both you and them. So give them a call, set a date, and make it a frequent occurrence.

-       Stephen Bleeker

How to Identify Caregiver Stress

Taking care of a loved one can place a very heavy and overwhelming burden on a caregiver. Maybe Dad just needs a little help with running errands and meal prep, or Mom is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease and needs round-the-clock care. Caring for your parents in their elder years requires a level of care and support that is not always easy to provide, especially when balanced against the demands of your own home life, career, and health.

 

According to Statistics Canada, more than 8 million Canadians provide care. Among regular caregivers, defined as those who spend at least 2 hours caregiving per week, between 21% of adult children reported feeling depressed or experienced health and psychological problems as a result of their role as caregiver. If you or someone you know is a caregiver, here are some common signs and symptoms to look out for that could point to a problem with high levels of stress.

 

Denial

It’s very natural during the early stages of Alzheimer’s that the family caregiver may experience levels of denial in which they refuse to accept that their parent or loved one is in fact ill. Seeing Mom unable to remember your name or your Dad who was once strong as an ox now weak and feeble can be extremely hard to accept.

 

Anger

Once the reality of the situation is accepted, it’s very common for denial to be followed by feelings of anger and frustration. When Mom or Dad begins to struggle with remembering everyday things, or struggles with regular routines, such as getting dressed, anger can easily begin to surface. This is only compounded if Mom or Dad also lashes out with anger at the symptoms of their condition. 42% of adult children caregivers report feeling angry or irritable. Moodiness and irritability can become more easily triggered from simple, everyday occurrences.

 

Anxiety and Depression

Anger can often fizzle down into anxiety and depression over time. Doubting your ability to properly care and provide the level of support they need can heighten stress and result in feelings of depression. It’s very common to feel defeated and begin to question whether more help is needed.

 

Exhaustion

Sleepless nights of tossing and turning, worrying about Mom or Dad and all of the anxiety and doubt that goes along with it, can lead to exhaustion. According to Statistics Canada, 56% of adult children providing care to Mom or Dad report feeling tired and 36% report sleep problems. As exhaustion builds it can fester into a vicious cycle that can exacerbate each of these feelings.

 

Loneliness or Isolation

Caring for Mom and Dad can be quite an isolating feeling, especially if you do not have other support and your parent requires round-the-clock care. 18% of caregivers report feeling alone or isolated as the primary caregiver.

 

Health Problems

And finally, over time as each of these symptoms develop and linger, it can result in physical and psychological health problems for the caregiver. This is when a caregiver reaches a point when they simply can’t recall when they last felt good or happy.

 

Each of these symptoms is very real and very common for many family caregivers that must endure the hardships of not only providing sufficient support and dedication to a loved one, but also having to witness the decline of Mom or Dad up close and personally. It can be an extremely difficult experience to endure, but it’s important to realize that it’s not something that must be endured alone.

 

As a family caregiver, you do not have to do it alone. There are resources available to help you provide better support for you love one and care for yourself. Support programs, respite services, tax credits, and more help from family, friends, and the community can help alleviate stress. As much as you want to help take care of Mom or Dad, you must first take care of yourself.

 

  • Stephen Bleeker

Dealing With Alzhiemers as a Family

Once the diagnosis comes through, it can be quite shocking for those affected by Alzheimer’s. Not only is it a debilitating and fast-acting disease for Mom or Dad, but it is also very challenging for the family members and close friends. There is no simple way to deal with the disease, but there are steps to ease the burden as things progress.

Go to Support Groups

There are plenty of support groups available for both those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and their family members who are party to the disease. The support groups provide much-needed information and guidance for dealing with the new way of life. Support groups also provide a safe space to voice how you are dealing with things and relieve some of the stress that is undoubtedly built up.

Have Frequent Visits by the Same People

Whether you use a care providing company such as assurance home care or you commit yourselves to frequent visits, it’s important that your loved ones experience companionship. Familiarity with the visitors is always a helpful thing as the disease progresses. So if you choose to use assurance home care in a companionship role, be certain to introduce them at an early stage so that they are comfortable with the companion as the stages continue to grow.

Know The Stages

It’s important to educate yourself and the members of your family on how Alzheimer’s will affect their loved one’s memory and actions. Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that can manifest itself in people differently, but it is never an easy battle to fight. As a caregiver, it’s important to be as educated as possible so you know what to expect and can prepare your family for what is coming in the future. If Mom and Dad want to know how the disease will affect them as it progresses, it’s important to provide them with the information they seek. Knowledge is power and even though Alzheimer’s is an uphill battle, knowing what you’re dealing with can help to ease some of the pain.

 

Dealing with Alzheimer’s as a united family will be challenging, difficult but most of all helpful for the one with the disease. A strong support system and unconditional love and acceptance will make the challenging days ahead seem easier to endure. Always remember you are not alone in the journey as many people are diagnosed with this disease every year. If you are willing and able to, help and Alzheimer’s care is available.

 

  • Stephen Bleeker

6 Ways for Mom and Dad to Stay Social

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As many people grow older and enter their senior years of life, the world around them can begin to grow into a lonely place, and that goes for your parents as well. As they slowly begin to lose the friends and family they grew up and grew close with, meeting new friends and maintaining any aspect of a social life can become a challenge. This sad reality is only made more difficult if your parents are no longer together, or one parent has since passed.

As many studies have shown, staying social is imperative to our mental health and emotional well-being. If your parents are struggling with isolation or loneliness, here are five ways to help encourage Mom and Dad to stay social. 

Seniors Fitness Class

Senior fitness classes can be found just about anywhere, provided by numerous gyms and facilities. And of course, staying active should be an essential part of every senior’s daily routine. So what better way to encourage them to keep up that active lifestyle than by meeting news friends at the same time? It’s the perfect way to boost both physical and mental health. The City of Ottawa has a range of recreation programs for seniors, from dance classes to swimming lessons to outdoor activities like hiking and snowshoeing.

Seniors Cruise

Cruise ships have long been a favourite go-to activity for seniors, and with the increasing comforts they remain one of the most exciting ways to add some adventure, new sights, and new friends, all wrapped up in the convenience that is tailored specifically for seniors. It’s also a great way to escape the harsh winter months in Ottawa, when icy roads and knee-deep snow can be a further cause of social isolation as it is difficult or dangerous for Mom and Dad venture outside.

Book Clubs

Who doesn’t love to curl up with a good book to pass the time? If your parents are avid readers, encourage them to get out and get social while sharing their love of reading with others. Book clubs can combine that much-needed social factor for those senior bookworms.

Companion Care

Have you considered companionship services? A companion is carefully selected to mesh well with Mom or Dad’s personality, interests, and needs. Whether it’s playing cards, chatting about last night’s episode of Dancing With the Stars, or simply reminiscing about the glory days, companionship care can help bridge the gap and avoid social isolation.

Take Advantage of Tech

The wonderful world of the Internet makes connecting with others so simple. Facebook is a great way to access a network of people. If your parents don’t already know how to access this, spend some time showing them how to use and take advantage of the online world. On Facebook, they can find and join various groups, and even find and reconnect with old friends. If Mom and Dad have smartphones or tablets, they can connect with the grandkids via FaceTime or Skype, or catch up with friends and family halfway around the world with a click of a button.

Gardening Clubs

Get your parents outside and breathing in that fresh air and warm sunshine by participating in a gardening club. They can get their dose of vitamin D, while making friends and getting a little messy in the garden. Why are we talking about gardening in December? Even in the cold winter months, Mom and Dad can start an indoor herb garden!

No matter what club or activity it is, the point is to encourage your parents to get social by finding what their particular interests are. So whether it’s gardening, dancing, swimming, or hopping on a Caribbean cruise – the best way to get them to stay social is by connecting them with something that they will enjoy. So if you’re searching for a few ideas, use these five tips to get you started!

- Stephen Bleeker

 

 

 

 

Celebrate National Caregivers Month

Each and every day, there are countless people who devote their time and energy to taking care of others. Whether it’s a relative or a loved one, family caregivers are there every step of the way to help ensure that their loved ones have the necessary support and compassion during whatever struggles they may be facing.

As a token of appreciation, November has been officially recognized as National Family Caregivers Month to give thanks and praise for the devotion and hard work that each caregiver provides.

By celebrating and dedicating one month throughout the year, it aims to highlight these four specific areas:

Devotion and Hard Work

Many people depend on their family to take care of them and provide the support that they require in order to make it through each day. Without caregivers, life would be a struggle. The sheer dedication through each kind and helpful gesture - each meal that’s prepared, and each action that’s taken to help ease the burden off of their loved one - is something that must be celebrated and given thanks for. It is these selfless individuals that allow so many others to get through life.

Raise Awareness

Commending and giving thanks to our caregivers also increases and provides awareness to their cause and efforts, and also brings attention to issues that they may often face.

Whether it’s problems with medical supplies, access to certain facilities or support, any area that causes their efforts to be less effective, the month of November is the platform on which any issues can be truly identified and discussed.

Educate Family Caregivers

Many caregivers that take on this role for a family member may often not be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities. That’s why during this month, we aim to provide information to help inform and educate family caregivers on what exactly this role entails and means for both them and their family member for whom they are taking care of.

Provide Support

Of course, it’s hard to fully understand just how much time, energy, dedication, and selflessness family caregivers provide. But it’s not hard to imagine. And that’s why the month of November is offered as a time that is devoted to providing the kind of support that they can lean on.

If you or someone you know is a family caregiver, it’s important to know that this isn’t something that you must endure alone. Support is available to provide you with a helping hand so that you too can take the time to take care of yourself. Come speak with us to learn how you can access our network of help and support.

-       Stephen Bleeker

5 Tips for Converting to an Accessible Bathroom

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According to the National Institute of Aging (NIA), 80% of senior falls happen in the bathroom. With its slippery surfaces, the bathroom can be a hazardous place especially for those with mobility issues. Do you want to make the bathroom a safer space for Mom and Dad? Here are five tips for converting to an accessible bathroom.

1.    Toilets

If Mom and Dad have mobility issues, muscle pain, or arthritis, it can be quite a challenge to sit down on a low toilet and stand up afterwards. Falls around the toilet are unfortunately quite common. A raised toilet seat means Mom and Dad don’t have to crouch down so far to use the toilet and handle bars make it easier to gently lower onto the seat. Grab bars on the wall next to the toilet also make it safer to get up and down.

2.    Bath and Shower Safety

Falls are quite common when trying to get into or out of the bathtub, and even while using the shower. Install grab bars and rails to make it easier to enter and exit the bathtub. Place a non-slip bath mat on the floor of the bathtub for extra grip. A shower/bath seat can also make it easier to comfortably get clean with no risk of falling.

3.    Flooring

Tripping or slipping on throw rugs is the number one cause of household falls. If you must have throw rugs in the bathroom, make sure they are secured in place with slip-resistant backing. Since water on the floor another common cause of floors, make sure to soak up the water after a shower. An in-home caregiver can provide light housekeeping services to keep the bathroom safe and clean.

4.    Lighting

Falls are quite common when making your way to the bathroom at night or with low light. Add nightlights in the bedroom, hallway, and bathroom to illuminate a path. Install an illuminated switch and brighter bulbs in the bathroom to make sure vision is not an issue.

5.    Bathroom Renovations

If Mom or Dad uses a wheelchair at home, there are many mobility renovations you can do to make the home more accessible. Renovations such as widening doors, installing a wheelchair-accessible rainfall shower, lowering countertops, and adding hands-free faucets are just a few examples.

Helpful tip: if budget is an issue and there are multiple bathrooms in the home, focus on converting the bathroom that is most often used by Mom and Dad and most convenient for them to access. Typically, this is the main bath closest to their bedroom. However, you may also want to make small adjustments to the powder room such as installing a raised toilet seat to simplify quick bathroom visits.

Mom and Dad deserve a bathroom that is safe and easy to use. If you have any other questions about making the bathroom more accessible, Assurance Home Care is happy to help. Simply call 613-706-1623 or contact us – we’re here for you!

-       Stephen Bleeker

4 Tips for a Smooth Return After a Hospital Stay

Is it time for Mom or Dad to return home from the hospital? While it’s good news that they are well enough to return home, there are some steps that need to be taken to ensure that their return home is comfortable and that they can continue their recovery in a safe environment. Here are four tips for a smooth return home following a stay in hospital:

Planning Your Discharge

Make the discharge process easy by planning ahead. You will usually have some notice from the care team that your parent is ready to return home, so use that time to plan for their return home. Will you be driving Mom home from the hospital? If you are unable to assist Mom into or out of the car, you may wish to arrange patient transportation or book a disability taxi. If rehabilitation is to continue at home, you will need to arrange these services.

Readying Your Home

Will Mom be returning to her home, or staying with you temporarily? Are there any mobility limitations to prepare for? Whether temporary or permanent, Mom may have mobility limitations that you need to account for. You can rent home medical equipment such as a wheelchair, walker, raised toilet seat, shower grab bars etc. to make the home safer and more comfortable as your parent recovers. You can also make small changes at home, such as temporarily relocating Mom’s bedroom to the living room until she recovers.

Give Time to Adjust

Mom has been discharged from the hospital, but that doesn’t mean that she is back to full health. There will still be a recovery period following discharge, maybe days, maybe months. Going from 24/7 care in the hospital to home can be a stressful, frightening transition for Mom and family alike. Mom may be in pain; she may be scared; she may be fatigued. Even simple activities like getting out of bed can be exhausting. Provide the support and care she needs to recover physically and psychologically.

Take Time for Yourself

It is not easy to be the adult child of a parent returning from a hospital stay. There’s the sadness and uncertainty of the event that put them in the hospital in the first place, the chaos and exhaustion of their time in the hospital, and the stress of their return home. Be there for Mom, but take time for yourself as well. You don’t have to do it alone – there is a network of support workers, whether it is the hospital-provided care coordinator or an in-home caregiver you hire to provide assistance to the family.

The professional team at Assurance Home Care helps families through the Ottawa area through tough moments like these on a daily basis. Find out how we can help ease the transition from a hospital stay and assist as your parent returns to full health.

 

  • Stephen Bleeker

5 Ways to Help Mom and Dad Combat Social Isolation

Social isolation among seniors is reaching epidemic levels in Canada. Social isolation, defined as a “low quantity and quality of contact with others,” is marked by an absence of “mutually rewarding relationships.” Social isolation is heavily tied to feelings of loneliness, though a person may feel lonely even in the company of others. Social isolation has many negative consequences for seniors, as it is associated with increased risks of hospitalization, higher levels of depression and suicide, and higher instances of unhealthy behaviours (drinking, smoking, sedentary lifestyle) and is a risk factor for elder abuse.

Social bonds are incredibly important for the physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing of elderly loved ones. With that in mind, let’s explore five different ways you can help Mom and Dad fight back against social isolation and enjoy the well-document benefits of staying social as they age:

Companionship

No matter your age, companionship is absolutely essential. It may be as simple as watching TV together, playing cards, or just chatting. Companionship doesn’t have to be structured or have any sense of mission. Simply being there for Mom and Dad is often all that they need. Whether it is family visiting, a friendly neighbour checking in, an old friend stopping by, or if you hire a caregiver to provide compassionate, supportive companionship care, that human touch and connection is so important.

Transportation

As Mom and Dad age, they may no longer be able to drive and mobility limitations prevent them from getting out like they used to. They may feel confined to the home and miss out on group activities, classes, and social outings as a result. Assist Mom and Dad in any way you can to facilitate transportation. Drive them to run errands or attend appointments, teach them how to use OC Transpo or ParaTranspo so they can maintain a sense of independence, or hire a caregiver to assist with transportation.

Sense of Purpose

In our younger years, we are always propelled forwarded the milestones of life: starting a career, starting a family, exploring the world. Upon retirement and with many of life’s milestones already completed, your parents may need a new sense of purpose. Encourage Mom and Dad to maintain their hobbies and learn new skills. Hobbies from golf to bridge are social hobbies, while others can be adapted to a social setting. An individual hobby like reading becomes social by joining a book club, while cooking can be done in the company of others with cooking classes.

Religious Services

If Mom and Dad are religious, encourage them to reconnect with their religious community and place of worship. Not only is attending religious services a rewarding social activity, but many places of worship act as community centres and arrange a number of social activities from volunteer opportunities to sports teams.

Gift a Pet or a Plant

Taking care of a living thing is a great way to fulfill the sense of nurturing that Mom and Dad may miss from their years of childrearing. Owning a dog gives a sense of purpose, provides companionship, and encourages exercise. Note: is extremely important that you speak with Mom and Dad beforehand and ensure that they are prepared for the responsibility of pet ownership. A pet is not an appropriate surprise gift. A low-maintenance gift such as a succulent plant is a safe alternative if your parents are not willing or able to care for a pet.

Fight back against the social isolation epidemic among seniors. Contact us at (613) 706-1586 to learn more about our companionship services.

  • Stephen Bleeker

Healthy Aging: 5 Tips to Make The Right Meal Choices

With chips, pop, ice cream, candy, and other delights calling our names, it’s not always easy to make healthy meal choices. As we age, it becomes more important than ever to eat a nutritious, balanced diet rich in protein, fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Healthy food fuels the body and mind and minimizes complications from conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Help Mom and Dad make healthy eating choices with these strategies:

Plan Healthy Meals

On a fixed budget, cheap but unhealthy foods suddenly have an appeal. With mobility limitations, it can be difficult to get to the market or grocery store for fresh produce, and Mom and Dad may begin to rely on fast foods or prepackaged dinners high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. If Mom or Dad has Alzheimer’s or another condition, they may be more likely to eat expired foods, or forget to eat at all. Help Mom and Dad by preparing meals week-by-week. You can batch cook meals in the crockpot to give a week’s worth of food, or freeze for a later date. A caregiver can help Mom and Dad shop for groceries, or assist with meal preparation to ensure a healthy, balanced diet. This is especially important if your parents have special nutrition requirements due to diabetes, lactose intolerance, or another condition.

Eat Your Veggies

When you were a kid, your parents used to make you eat every vegetable on your plate. Now is the time to return the favour. Vegetables are high in fibre, which helps Mom and Dad stay regular. Vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, obesity and cancer:

  • Vitamin A – carrots, tomato, leafy greens

  • Vitamin C – broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, leafy greens

  • Folate – peas, spinach, mustard greens

  • Potassium – Cooked spinach, tomatoes, beet greens

As a handy rule, at least half the plate should be filled with vegetables. Try to get at least three different colours of vegetables on the plate to get a variety of nutrients on the plate. For example, try the flag of Italy: spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Or the Canadian flag: beets, white asparagus, and red pepper.  

Change It Up

If Mom or Dad has trouble with chewing, a nutritious smoothie with spinach, kale, banana, and yogurt is a tasty yet healthy way to get those essential nutrients. Especially in the winter months, soup is a great way to get nutrition and warm up, and it’s easier if your parent has trouble chewing. Plus, it’s simple for you to batch prepare soups, divide into individual containers, and freeze.

Keep Track

Tracking your calories or nutrients is not always easy. On the one hand, a day that starts with a Tim Hortons’ double double and ends with a burger, fries, and shake at a restaurant could amount to more than 3,000 calories, far more than most seniors need. On the other hand, if your parent forgets to eat, they could be well under their intake requirements. Help your parent keep track of their intake to ensure they get enough nutrients, but don’t overeat. You can track their meals with pen and paper, or there are many smartphone apps that will track calories, macros, and nutrients in full detail.

Talk to Your Parent’s Physician

If your parent is not getting the nutrition they need from their daily diet, talk to their doctor about the option of dietary supplements. It is important to ask your parent’s primary care physician as some dietary supplements may affect your parent’s medical conditions or interfere with medications.

For more advice on healthy meal choices or to learn more about how a caregiver can help Mom and Dad lead healthy, fulfilling lives as they age, contact Assurance Home Care.

  • Stephen Bleeker

 

 

 

 

7 Alzheimer's Care Travel Tips

Fall is a heavy travel season. Whether it is a ride in the car to visit your in-laws for Thanksgiving, a tropical vacation down south to escape the early cold, or just a weekend getaway to the cottage before it’s time to close it up for the season, travel should be fun and relaxing. If Mom or Dad has Alzheimer’s, travel can turn quite stressful for you as a caregiver. These caregiver tips should help ease some stress and make the trip enjoyable for the whole family:

 

Embrace the Familiar

Unfamiliar people and surroundings can be confusing and distressing for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Do what you can to make the environment familiar, such as bringing Mom’s pillow or favorite teddy, or packing Dad’s go-to breakfast cereal. Keep routines as consistent with daily life as possible.

 

Simplify Your Travel Itinerary

Travel can be exhausting and stressful, so do what you can to minimize the chance of a wrong turn or a missed flight. If you are travelling by car, plan out the route in advance and make note of places to stop for a bathroom/food/stretch break. If flying, book a direct flight, arrive early at the airport, and ask about pre-boarding procedures to give extra leeway. Try to keep your journeys to four hours or less.

 

Keep Important Documents and Medication Close at Hand

When travelling, you should always have easy access to all of Mom or Dad’s important documents like emergency contact information, food allergies, doctor contact information etc. Bring current medications and a list of doses, and make sure you supply more than needed in case you are delayed in your return.

 

Keep People Informed

Share all information with emergency contacts both at home and at your destination (if possible). This should include the travel itinerary, contact numbers, and medication information.

 

Stay in a Hotel

If you are going to visit relatives, consider staying in a hotel rather than staying with family. Which your relatives may be gracious hosts, they may not know how to deal with someone with Alzheimer’s and the arrangements could cause undue stress on all parties. Plus, staying in a hotel will make it easier to stick to routines.

 

Book a Transport Service

A medical transport service can make it easier to ensure safe arrival at the airport, at your destination, and back home.

 

Be Realistic

Though Mom or Dad may have previously loved that long drive to PEI, or that ambitious flight to Europe, it may no longer be possible. Though it may be easy to travel in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, as the disease progresses things may change. Consider offering to host Thanksgiving this year so your parents don’t have to travel far, or plan a fun “staycation.”

These Alzheimer’s care tips should make your fall travel plans a little easier for the whole family. Looking for more Alzheimer’s care tips? Contact Assurance Home Care at 613-706-1585; we’d be happy to talk.

 

 

  • Stephen Bleeker