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:


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.


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

Caring for a Loved One With MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that affects an estimated 100,000 Canadians. The disease attacks the protective covering of nerves, myelin, causing interruption and disruption to nerve impulses. MS causes a range of symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, impaired sensations, bladder problems, vision problems cognitive impairment, and mood changes. MS is unpredictable and the symptoms can change from one day to the next. With MS, you can have normal motor function and sensations one day, and the next be fatigued and unable to walk. If Mom or Dad has MS, providing adequate care can be a daily challenge.

Bladder Care

As MS affects the nerves, it can disrupt regular function of the nerves and muscles of the urinary system. People with MS may have to cope with incontinence, leaking, discomfort, or difficulty with urination. As a caregiver, you can support Mom or Dad by supplying absorbent products (panty liners, adult diapers, bed pads), scheduling bathroom breaks, and talking with your parent’s primary care physician about medication options. If the problem worsens, Mom or Dad may need a surgical procedure to insert a catheter.  

Pain Care

MS may cause pain in the face, arms, legs, and feet. This pain can cause sensations of burning, aching, cramping, numbness, tingling or twitching. Your parent’s doctor may prescribe medications to alleviate the pain. You may be able to relieve the pain somewhat by applying warm compresses or fitting Mom or Dad with pressure stockings and gloves.

Mobility Limitations

MS can affect balance and cause vertigo and dizziness. It can cause sensory impairment, vision problems, tremors, fatigue, and make it difficult to walk. As a result, day-to-day activities can become a challenge and household safety may become a concern. Look into home mobility equipment and accessibility upgrades to make the bathroom, kitchen, stairs, and other areas in the home safer and easier to use.

Caring for a loved one with MS can be physical and emotionally draining. It is not unusual for caregivers to experience burnout, which can include exhaustion, irritability, trouble sleeping, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed. You do not have to care for a loved one with MS alone. Assurance Home Care is on your side with a range of assistance services, including respite care to ease stress on the whole family.

Call 613-706-1672 to further discuss how together we can put Mom or Dad in the best hands.


  • Stephen Bleeker

7 Reasons Why It’s Time to Declutter

Our childhood homes collect a lifetime of memories. Though we move on to start families of our own, often Mom and Dad keep a collection of mementos from years gone by. Some of these have high emotional value: baby pictures, Grandma’s fine china, vintage collectors’ items. Others are just items that stack up over the years: ill-fitting clothes, dusty magazines, broken Christmas lights, board games with missing pieces, and so on. This clutter continues to collect, to the point that it feels impossible to tackle. If you just take it one step at a time, decluttering can provide a world of relief for Mom and Dad as they transition into the golden years. Here are seven compelling reasons to convince your parents that it’s time to declutter:

Easier to Maintain

Ultimately, a clutter-free home will be a lot easier to clean and maintain as the years go by. Physiologically, it will also be more motivating to keep a tidy home tidy rather than viewing it as a lost cause. With a place for everything and everything in its place, the dream of aging at home is a lot more realistic.

Prepare to Downsize

If their current home is too big for Mom and Dad, it may be time to downsize. Not only will this prioritize accessibility and make cleaning easier, it will also save money on rent/mortgage and utilities. Decluttering is a necessary step if you plan to move, as there simply won’t be the space in the new home.

Get the Home Ready for Sale

In order to downsize, Mom and Dad will need to prepare the home for sale. To help the home sell well and maximize the resale value, clutter has to go. A blank canvas is best for potential buyers so they can visualize themselves living in the space.

Make a Difference

Not all clutter is junk. Those items that Mom and Dad have been collecting in drawers, closets, and the basement could have real value to others. When decluttering, sort all items into “keep,” “donate,” and “recycle/trash” sections. Items like furniture, gently used clothing, books, and sports equipment can likely be donated to families in need.

Breathe Easy

If you have a section of the home that you can’t or won’t access due to clutter, the space is more likely to collect dust, allergens, or even mold. Poor indoor air quality is associated with a range of health problems and can worsen symptoms if Mom or Dad has a heart or lung condition. Declutter to improve the air quality at home.

Reduce Stress

Living in a messy environment can be a great source of stress. According to Psychology Today, clutter causes anxiety, guilt, embarrassment, tension, and frustration. Decluttering can increase relaxation, improve focus, encourage creativity and productivity, and make home feel like home once more.

Nostalgia Factor

Don’t look at the process of decluttering as a miserable, back-breaking task. Instead, focus on the positives. In addition the benefits listed here, think of decluttering as a chance to walk down memory road with Mom and Dad. You’re not just cleaning out the basement – you’re also reliving old memories as you rediscover old baby clothes, 3rd grade art projects, and high school prom photos. For Mom and Dad, maybe they come across wedding pictures, their favourite Beatles LP, or a plaque from work. Share in the memories and tell stories of the old days as you work together to make the future bright and clean.

Assurance Home Caregivers can assist with light housekeeping duties to help Mom and Dad enjoy independence and keep the home clean and comfortable. We can tailor a caregiving program specific to the needs of Mom and Dad. Give us a call at 613-706-1586 or contact us to discuss in further detail.


  • Stephen Bleeker

5 Helpful Tips for Caring for an Aging Parent

As Mom and Dad age, the family dynamic begins to shift. Mom and Dad once cared for you, nurtured you, and kept you safe, and then it becomes time to return the favour.  Caring for an aging parent isn’t always easy – here are five tips to help guide you.

Make it a Conversation Early

You need to have an open dialogue with Mom and Dad when they are healthy and fully aware. How would they like to enjoy their senior years? What are they comfortable with, and what are they completely opposed to in terms of future care? These conversations are always more difficult as the years pass, especially if your parent is affected by a condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These are not easy topics, but talking about them early when there is no urgency is always a wise choice.

Educate Yourself

What is it like to live with dementia? What does arthritis do to the body? How does it feel to lose your partner of fifty years? These and other challenges are things that Mom and Dad may be dealing with. Educate yourself, use all available resources, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether you are the primary caregiver or witnessing these changes to Mom and Dad from afar, you are affected by these developments and have a right to understand what is happening.  

Take Time for Yourself

Caregiver burnout is real. There is a fantastic expression: “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Take care of yourself and make your own happiness a priority, and you’ll better be able to provide for Mom and Dad. Relax in a hot bubble bath, schedule a weekly massage, take advantage of respite care services – do whatever you need to care for yourself first and foremost.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a community to care for our aging population. Ask siblings, enlist the generous help of neighbours, and use community resources. Accept the helping hand of anyone who is willing and able to chip in.

Things Change

Keep a watchful eye on Mom and Dad. Does she not seem like herself? Is his mood changing? Does she have increasing memory problems? Does he have a harder time with daily tasks like getting dressed or using the bathroom? As we age, some changes happen in what feels like an instant, while others are more gradual. These changes may necessitate asking for help that you didn’t need the day or week before. Keep a watchful eye and be open to caregiving adjustments as needed. 

Assurance Home Care has a suite of caregiving services to suit Mom and Dad’s exact needs and provide support and companionship to supplement your care. Give us a call at 613-706-0873 or send us an email, if you’d like to talk further about caring for Mom and Dad as they age.

-       Stephen Bleeker

5 Dos and Don’ts for Dementia Care


Nearly 15% of Canadians 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Dementia is associated with a decline in memory, concentration, reasoning, and communication severely enough to interfere with everyday life. Dementia symptoms worsen over time and vary from person to person. If Mom or Dad has dementia, it is hard to know what to do or say. It is heartbreaking to see your parent decline and it can be so overwhelming trying to communicate as their personality changes and they are alternatingly confused, aggressive, helpless, obstinate, afraid, and hostile. It is scary, uncharted territory for the whole family, but you are not alone. These dos and don’ts for dementia care can help ease some of your worries and make daily life a little more comfortable:

#1. Do Remain Calm

Dementia often causes people to speak or act aggressively because they feel helpless and confused. It is important to stay calm and not respond with agitation or anger. Keep your tone and body language calm. Try to look beyond the aggression and see if you can pinpoint the feelings Mom or Dad is trying to communicate. Alternatively, you can try to shift the focus to another topic and circle back to this situation at a later time.

#2. Don’t Force The Issue

If your parent is not cooperative right now, it’s OK to come back later and try again – you’ll likely get a completely different reaction. Trying to force your parent to do something or engaging in an argument will only escalate the situation. As long as your parent is not putting themselves or anyone else in danger, just let it go and come back to the issue in a calm manner at a later point.

#3. Don’t Take it Personally

When your parent is yelling at you, crying, swearing, kicking, or otherwise acting aggressively, it can be hard not to take it personally and feel like you’ve done something wrong. It is so important to remember that aggression and hostility are almost always caused by confusion, helplessness, and fear, not genuine anger at you. Step out of the room or take some time for yourself if you need to and remind yourself that it is not personal and Mom/Dad loves you.

#4. Do Take Care of Yourself

It is understandable that you want to put Mom or Dad first and tend to their every need. At the same time, ultimately you will be a better, more patient caregiver if you give care to yourself as well. There is a tremendous expression: “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Take care of yourself and put yourself first, even as every instinct says to sacrifice your own physical and emotional health in favour of your parent.

#5. Don’t Try to Do it All On Your Own

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be a consuming lifestyle, especially if you are the primary caregiver or live with your parents. There is no shame in accepting help, and you have not failed if you come to realize after a certain period that you are not prepared to take on this challenge alone. Whether it is accepting assistance from siblings, moving your parent to an assisted living facility, or hiring the services of an in-home caregiver, or taking advantage of respite care, there are many options available to you. 

-       Stephen Bleeker



4 Summertime Senior Fitness Ideas

Exercise has many health benefits for people of all ages – adults, children, even babies need exercise to support physical and cognitive function and strength. In the elderly, aerobic and resistance training alike are proven to reduce the risk of heart problems, prevent falls, and improve cognitive function. From lowering blood pressure to reducing joint inflammation and improving balance, the effects of exercise for seniors are well documented. Exercise is also positively linked with social engagement and mental health. Here are a few summertime fitness ideas for Mom or Dad to enjoy:

Cool Off With Swimming

Swimming is an ideal exercise for seniors because it is a low-impact activity and does not put stress on the bones and joints. In fact, the sensation of floating in the water can help relieve muscle and joint pain. In addition to open swims at various public pools throughout the city, the City of Ottawa runs Aquafitness programs – contact your nearest community pool for schedule information. Aqua-Lite is a perfect low-impact workout for seniors and combines swimming with strength training and endurance training.


You can expect to burn about 125-300 calories an hour walking, depending on your speed and weight. If Mom and Dad are able, walking is a highly beneficial activity that reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, joint pain, and heart problems. In Ottawa we are so fortunate to have a variety of scenic walking paths, including picturesque paths that run along the Rideau Canal, Rideau River, and Ottawa River. Nordic walking (also known as urban polling) is an increasingly popular choice for seniors as it increases cardio but reduces impact when walking. If you love walking but can’t stand the sun, most malls in Ottawa run mall walking groups where you can socialize and get the benefits of exercise in a comfortable, air-conditioned environment. If Mom or Dad uses a wheelchair, wheeling around provides an upper-body workout and cardiovascular training.


Stretching is the wonder exercise. It helps to awaken your body in the morning and relax at night. It gets you prepared for the day or activity ahead and reduces the risk of injury. Follow a stretching routine and hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds. Almost all stretches can be adapted around mobility limitations and done from a seated position. Consult your doctor or physical therapist to design a custom stretching routine.

Summertime Fitness Tips

As much as we love the return of the summer sun, beware of the risks of heat stress and heat stroke. Overexposure and overheating can lead to weakness, dizziness, nausea, and even fainting. Also keep in mind that some medications can cause heat sensititives. For this reason, outdoor exercise should be avoided on the hottest summer days. If your parents want to participate in outdoor activities like walking or gardening, it is best to do it in the early mornings or evenings and avoid the midday sun. Keep well hydrated, wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, and apply SPF 15+ sunscreen. If you feel faint, light headed, or dizzy or experience rapid pulse or breathing, stop what you are doing and seek shade. Lie down, hydrate, apply wet cloths to your skin, and elevate your feet. If your condition does not improve, call 911.

Assurance Home Caregivers are there to assist and encourage Mom and Dad with their doctor-assigned exercise programs. Our caregivers assist physiotherapists and trainers specialized in elder care to maintain and improve mobility, strength, and muscle health. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

-       Stephen Bleeker

5 Medication Reminders that Work

When taking multiple medications, it is not always easy to follow the doctor-prescribed schedule. For elderly parents especially, forgetting to take medication is a common concern. This issue is especially complicated by conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, which directly affect one’s memory. Here are some simple and practical medication reminder ideas for your parent:

Maintain a Set Schedule

Remembering to take your medication is always more difficult if you eat and sleep at erratic times and do not have a set daily schedule. Create a routine. In following a more structured schedule, your parent can incorporate taking medication at a predictable and reliable point in the day, like after breakfast or before bedtime. Of course keep in mind instructions regarding, for example, taking on an empty stomach, which would not time well with a post-meal routine. 

Use a Pill Box Organizer

A pill box is a simple device you can use to organize medicine by days of the week and even times of day. It is especially handy if your parent has a complex medication routine and needs to take different pills at different times. Some advanced models even alert you with a beep when it’s time to take a dose. With help from a caregiver to organize the medicine on a weekly basis, it’s as easy as taking the designated dose on cue.  Pharmacies too can play a part in organizing meds by supplying prescriptions in pre-sorted blister packs. 

Create a Checklist

The act of writing and reading instructions can help solidify the memory. Help your parent create a checklist, whether on paper, an erasable wipe board, or on your parent’s phone. The checklist should list medications and suggested dose times. Cross off the items as the day/week progresses. Remember to also include refill reminders and follow-up appointments with the doctor on the list.

Set an Alarm

An alarm can be a good cue to jog the memory. This is especially important if there is a tight time period in which a medicine must be taken. Assist your parent with setting an alarm on their watch, clock, or phone. For more detailed instructions, you can set a text alert, email alert, or install a medication reminder app if your parent has a smartphone. 

Medication Assistance

Your parent should not be afraid to ask for help. Failure to take medications can lead to negative drug interactions, unwelcome side effects, illness, or necessitate a hospital visit. If your parent is forgetful with taking medication or their medication routine is becoming increasingly complex, there is help available. Our caregivers can remind you when it is time to take medications, provide assistance with opening pill bottles, and coordinate trips to the pharmacy as needed to ensure your parent’s medication schedule is not interrupted.

Forgetting to take medications is a common issue with elderly parents and people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Medication is so important in helping live a comfortable, healthy life as free from symptoms as possible. Need some addition help?  Ask us how we can play a part in ensuring Mom or Dad stay on course when it comes to taking medications.

-       Stephen Bleeker


4 Home Modifications to Keep Mom and Dad Safe

According o a 2011 study, 95 percent of seniors in Canada hope to stay in their homes as they age rather than moving to a retirement community, assisted living facility or long term care facility. This concept is known as “aging in place.” Aging in place is the aspiration to continue to live comfortably and independently in one’s home and community for many years to come.

In order to age in place with safety and comfort, it is important to assure that basic needs are met and supported on an on-going basis. From health to transportation, finances to household maintenance, every aspect should be considered.

As your parents age and mobility limitations become more of a factor, the current layout of the home may be an increasing impediment to remaining in the home versus moving to a senior facility. Home modifications can restore safety and access as your parents age, ensuring they can live comfortably at home for years to come. Let’s explore four home modifications to help your parents achieve the dream of aging in place:

Bathroom Mobility Modifications

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, about 50 percent of all senior falls leading to hospitalization occur in the home. According to the National Institute on Aging (US source), 80% of household falls occur in the bathroom. This prevalence is understandable, since bathroom surfaces are typically wet and slippery. Combined with decreasing balance, stability, and reflexes as we age, bathroom falls are sadly all too common. Bathroom modifications such as installing grab bars, safety rails, and non-slip flooring can reduce the likelihood of a slip and fall accident. Additional modifications such as a raised toilet seat, bath/shower seat, handheld shower hose, and hand-free faucet can improve access and safety.

Staircase Modifications

Staircases are considered the second-most hazardous location in the home. In addition to the risk of slips and falls, they can represent a barrier if your aging parents need use of a walker or wheelchair. Simple, cost-efficient improvements like adding glow-in-the-dark grip tape to stair risers can improve safety, while installing an exterior or interior chair lift can restore access.

Kitchen Modifications

The kitchen is the most important room to keep safe. With the risk of cuts, burns, and accidental fires, safety must be a top priority. Modifications such as improved lighting, lowered countertops, stove-front knobs, tap faucets, and non-slip flooring will all help improve accessibility.

Improved Lighting

Poor lighting conditions are often associated with falls in the home. Poor lighting will increase the risk of a fall in a situation where there are frequent late night bathroom visits. If your parent has declining vision, poor lighting will only amplify this condition. Update lighting wherever possible, including on the outside of the home. Invest in night lights or motion-sensing lights that activate as needed.

Home modifications can help your aging parents remain safe, comfortable, and independent in their homes for years to come. Our senior in-home care services can assist in making these evaluations in the home in addition to our regular services including including companionship, housekeeping, meal preparation, and personal care which can also support the goal of aging in place.

-       Stephen Bleeker

Caring for Yourself

How to Identify and Cope with Caregiver Stress

elderly holding hands

Although caring for a loved one can be rewarding, you will encounter challenges.  There is no question that caring for an elderly parent can be physically and emotionally draining. You may think ‘stress’ is an overused term in our day-to-day lives, but caregiver stress is very real and can lead to serious health effects. Moreover, it can take a toll on your relationships not only with your parent, but your family, friends and (often, the most neglected) yourself. 

Here are a few tips to help identify and cope with caregiver stress:

Who can develop caregiver stress?

Anyone who is caring for someone can develop caregiver stress. The problem is that many people who care for a family member or loved one often do not identify themselves as a caregiver. It’s important to see yourself as a caregiver and understand that just like an employee, you deserve a break. 

What are some of the signs of caregiver stress?

It can be very difficult to recognize the signs of caregiver stress in yourself. Symptoms may include relatively minor things like changes in your eating habits or irritability but this leads to anxiety, depression and insomnia. You may encounter difficulty in concentrating on a simple task or a conversation. Often you can become withdrawn from your normal social activities such as visiting with friends and family. Although these symptoms can seem minimal at first, it can turn into chronic and serious illnesses.  

What can you do?

When so much focus is placed on caring for Mom and Dad, it can be difficult to find time for yourself.  Here are a few ways you can cope with caregiver stress:

  • Exercise – take a walk around the block or a gym class with friends, even as little as half an hour of exercise a day can help reduce caregiver stress.
  • Get a good night sleep – one of the best ways to ensure adequate rest is to reduce your caffeine intake.
  • Find your relaxation method – everyone has different ways to unwind, whether it is a long bath, meditation or gardening, find out what works best for you.
  • Connect with others – instead of withdrawing, it is important to reach out to family, friends and fellow care providers.

You may notice that the best methods of coping with caregiver stress involve taking time for yourself. Understand that taking time to focus on yourself is not only 100% acceptable but also 100% necessary. 

Ask for and Accept Help

We understand that becoming the caregiver for a parent is emotionally and physically overwhelming.  You are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept the help of others.  Whether it’s scheduling a regular qualified care provider or just a few hours of respite, Assurance Home Care can help find a plan that best suits you and your loved one’s unique needs. 

Before a plane takes off, the crew will always tell you that in the event of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask first before caring for those around you. This is the same when you are providing care for a loved one.  In order to provide sustainable and positive care, you need to take care of yourself first.

How to Talk to Your Parents About Assisted Living

Assisted living can be one of the most difficult decisions your family makes. Though the benefits of assisted living (for both you and your parents) are undeniable, the first steps can seem impossible. Whether you’re looking for personal in-home care, a long term care facility or simply additional support for your family, here are a few tips for you and your loved ones:

Make it a regular topic of conversation

Bringing up the topic of assisted living for the first time can be awkward. No matter what age or state of your parent’s health, it’s important to talk about it early. It should become a regular topic of conversation to ensure that your parent is aware and comfortable with assisted living. 

Be aware of your language

Talking about assisted living can bring up unexpected emotions of anger or guilt from both you and your parents. Therefore, it is important to frame the conversation around feelings. Tell your parents your concerns for their health and safety. Understand and highlight how assisted living can benefit your parent’s lifestyle – not just your own. 
As your parents age, you will take on more of the caretaker role in your relationship. Nonetheless, try and avoid role-reversal. You would never want your parent to feel like a child during difficult conversations. 

Talk to your siblings

It is incredibly important to have the same conversations with your siblings. It can be difficult to make sure that everyone is on the same page, especially when you are separated by distance. However, inconsistent points of view can be confusing and discouraging for your parent.  In order to avoid this, make sure that your siblings understand the benefits of assisted living and feel as though they are an active part in the decision making process. 

Don’t wait for an emergency

As your parent ages, the risk of an accident or a health-scare becomes far greater. The last thing you want to have a decision about assisted living forced upon you in an emergency. Therefore, it is important to know what your parent wants and develop a plan before anything happens. 

Research together

Ultimately, this is a decision your family will make together. It is important that you’re all comfortable with whatever choice your parent makes. So research different options, visit different homecare facilities and meet different caretakers to ensure you are making the right decision when the time comes. You will find that your parent will be happier when they are an active part of the research. It is important to reassure your parent that it is their choice, while urging them to take action now. 

Home Care

If you’re dealing with resistance  from  a parent and expressions of wanting to stay at home then home care is always an option.  This can extend the time that Mom and Dad are at their home but helps them to understand that maybe they do require a certain level of assistance.  Even if it's just for now, getting that help at home is an option.

At Assurance Home Care, we understand that every family’s needs are unique and place a great deal of emphasis on making sure it’s a good fit for your family. Our caregivers are individuals who are passionate about what they do, understand and respect the desire for independence while working closely with family members. Find out more about the Assurance difference here

It’s natural to feel mixed emotions including a sense of guilt while you’re talking to your parent about assisted living. But at the end of the day, choosing quality care and assisted living (whether it is with Assurance Home Care or another care provider) will be the best choice for both you and your parent.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Elder hands

Even though Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, it can come as a shock when it creeps into the lives of our family and loved ones. Often, it is only in hindsight that we identity the signs. Therefore, it is important to learn and recognize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in order to diagnose it early. Here are some of the symptoms you can identify at home:

Memory loss

Forgetfulness is a normal part of aging. It becomes serious, however, when it starts interfering your day-to-day activities. Some symptoms include repeatedly asking the same questions and the inability to recognize relatives or close friends. 

Vision Changes

Your vision alters over time, but it may surprise you that vision changes can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Your loved one may encounter difficulties judging distances or distinguishing colours. These symptoms can be particularly worrisome if they still have an active driver’s license. 

Trouble Making Plans

You may see your loved one become overwhelmed with simple plans like making a grocery list or planning a meal. This can lead to further disorientation surrounding place and time, making it difficult to make and maintain plans with others.

Misplacing Things

Everyone tends to misplace their personal belongings from time to time. However, when you continuously find your loved one’s things in strange locations – it can be an indicator of something more than just carelessness. 

Challenge in Daily Tasks

Early side effects of Alzheimer’s can make daily tasks difficult or impossible. When your loved one forgets how to perform a task they’ve done hundreds of times before such as cooking a favourite dish or boiling water, it can be sign that they should seek treatment. 

Irresponsible Decision Making

When a loved one’s decisions suddenly seem irresponsible or abnormal, it may be due Alzheimer’s. For example someone who is ordinarily frugal with their finances could make outlandish purchases due to Alzheimer’s.  

Mood Swings

Alzheimer’s can cause confusion, fatigue, anger and simply being overwhelmed. Often these emotions are amplified by the inability to communicate their feelings, which can lead to withdrawal. It’s important to recognize these blameless mood swings and encourage seeking help. 

You know your loved one best and you know when they are not acting as themselves. It can be heartbreaking, but don’t be afraid to talk about it. Ultimately, an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s will help them maintain their independence for longer. Moreover, it allows you the time to explore treatments, plan for the future and find quality care for you and your loved ones. 

Tips for Staying Active

Yoga for seniors

No matter what age you are, studies prove that physical exercise is essential to keep your brain sharp and prevent memory loss. This is even more critical as you age since regular exercise can prevent risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), and stroke. Starting a physical exercise routine may appear daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! It is important to find a routine that suits you and your needs. 

Here are a few easy tips and tricks that you and your loved ones can work into your daily routine. 


The very word aerobic may give you flashbacks of vibrant leotards and perms but luckily, that is no longer the case. Aerobic activity simply means any sustained exercises that stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs, as well as boost energy levels. It can be particularly beneficial for seniors dealing with high blood pressure. Aerobics can be as simple as a walk around the block or hiking in Gatineau Park for the more advanced.

Stretching and Yoga

As we age, the flexibility of our joints declines and we can lose your range of motion. Therefore, it is important to devote time for stretching in your daily routine. There are many benefits including improving your posture and relieving stress! In fact, experts have named yoga as one of the best forms of exercise for seniors as it soothes the mind and the body. Click here for yoga classes designed for seniors in the Ottawa region.

Low Impact Exercises

Low impact exercises are typically easier on the joints with a reduced risk of injury, while improving your strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. Most importantly, you can combine low impact exercises with your social calendar! There are many programs in Ottawa that seniors and friends can take part in together, such as: swimming, shuffleboard and golf. 

Be Creative!

Be sure to switch up the exercise routine to stimulate different muscle groups and, most importantly, prevent boredom. 

Remember the key to all physical activity is to start slow and work your way up. Find an activity that best suits you and your needs. Whichever form of exercise you choose; you are taking great strides towards a healthier and stronger lifestyle!  

- Stephen Bleeker