Top 5 Reasons Families Need a Caregiver for Parents in LTC
Friday, August 17, 2018
You can imagine that someone living in a nursing home wants a regular visitor, but can you think of reasons why their families also benefit?
Here are top 5 reasons that families need a caregiver for their parent in long-term care:
1. To Supplement Family Visits
You know how important it is for your father to have a regular visitor, but you just can’t keep doing it all yourself. You can’t manage your own household and your career while also being at the long-term care home daily. He thrives with one-on-one support, but it can’t be you every day.
Warm Embrace caregivers supplement family visits. We never replace family, but we can provide support when a family cannot be present. We ensure that your loved one has a wonderful day and is in better spirits so you don’t feel guilty about not visiting.
2. Family dynamics
Let’s be honest—your family wasn’t exactly the Brady Bunch (don’t worry, neither was mine!). Deep down, you love your parents and your siblings, but loving someone doesn’t mean you get along well! Decades of history aren't erased just because parents become elderly and require more care. Sometimes, those long-standing family issues become even more emphasized when the patriarch or matriarch becomes ill.
You want the best for your parent, and you believe regular visits would benefit your father. Truth be told, you’re not the best person to be doing the visiting. It may not be the most beneficial for your father, and it definitely won’t be good for you. The kindest thing you can do is provide a visitor who can appreciate your father unconditionally—no strings attached, no history, no family dynamics.
3. Families Spread out Geographically
Today’s families are spread across the country and even across the globe! It is not uncommon to have siblings living in different time zones and various countries. With families at a distance, it can be difficult to visit your parent in a nursing home regularly. A local caregiver can provide the tender, loving care that you wish you could provide, if only you lived closer.
Maybe your siblings visit often and you feel bad that you’re not able to contribute. You can send a substitute on your behalf! Of course, we can’t fill your shoes, but we can provide a visit that alleviates your siblings from feeling like everything has been left up to them.
4. Interrupting Patterns
This fits closely with family dynamics, but it is slightly different. Family dynamics are what happens between people; interrupting patterns has more to do with your parent’s personal pattern. Your parent does not yet have a pattern with us, so we have the chance to have a completely fresh start.
Does your mother have a pattern of complaining every time she sees you? We hear this all the time. Your mother complains endlessly to you, but the nurses tell you that she is a sweetheart to deal with. How is it that she can seem like two different people? Your mother may have an ingrained pattern; when she is with you, she complains about anything and everything.
We can’t promise to change your mother’s pattern. What we can do is interrupt that pattern by starting from scratch. Our visits can remain focused on the positive which will keep her in better spirits and prevent you from feeling frustrated over constantly negative visits.
5. Extended family
Your great-aunt listed you as her Power of Attorney and she’s now been moved into a long-term care home. You visit when you can, but all she talks about is how lonely she is and how she wishes you would visit every day. Your own family and career already keep you busy and now your own parents are starting to need some assistance. . . there’s just no way you can visit your great-aunt as regularly as she’d like.
Having a caregiver visit regularly is the perfect solution for those who do not have a close family. We become their proxy family members. We can visit daily and provide the companionship and stimulation that they are seeking—while alleviating you of the guilt that you can’t visit more often.
Remember—the caregiver who is visiting your parent may be enlisted as much for your sake as for your parent’s sake, and that is perfectly okay. We would be honoured to visit your loved one in Long-term Care!
Why are there Private Caregivers in Nursing Homes?
Friday, August 10, 2018
People are often shocked to realize that Warm Embrace provides service within long-term care homes (previously known as nursing homes). We have numerous clients who live in long-term care homes all across the region—in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Elmira, even all the way out to Palmerston!
If people move into nursing homes to have everything taken care of, then why do they need a Warm Embrace Caregiver?
One-on-one undivided attention
You might think “there are tons of staff at the nursing home, why would we bring in another caregiver?” You’re absolutely right—there are many staff within long-term care. There are nurses and PSWs, housekeeping staff and maintenance staff, administrative staff and social workers—the list goes on and on! Sure there are many people buzzing around, but none of them are there exclusively for your parent.
People know when a visitor is there just for them, versus someone who is there for the whole group. Staff must pay attention to all the residents; even hired entertainers must try to engage the whole audience. The residents inherently know that those visitors are for everyone. It is no different than attending an event at Centre in the Square—the performance isn’t for you personally, it is for the whole audience.
A personal, private caregiver, by contrast, is there for your parent exclusively. They are not rushing out of the room to assist anyone else; they are not turning away from your parent to converse with someone else. They are there to provide undivided, one-on-one attention. It is amazing to see how people KNOW the difference. Someone with advanced dementia who can no longer speak will absolutely light up when her caregiver arrives—she knows the difference between her personal caregiver and any other visitor who is there for the group.
Matching Individual Needs
Residents in long-term care centres have a huge range of needs. Some people are there because of cognitive needs—their brain has been affected by an illness such as dementia. Others are there due to physical needs such as incontinence or requiring a Hoyer lift for transfer. Others may have a combination of both physical and cognitive needs such as those with Parkinson’s or stroke survivors.
The Activity Director has the very challenging job of trying to find group activities that match as many needs as possible. Naturally, the activity director has to cater to the average so that as many people as possible can participate. However, residents on either end of the spectrum may feel left out. Those who are very sharp mentally may feel that activities are too basic or childish. Those with advanced dementia may find activities too complicated or frustrating.
A caregiver matches the individual needs of the resident whom they are helping. The activity can be scaled to suit the ability of their client so that the client never feels frustrated while also ensuring that the client is not bored or under-challenged. Maintaining just the right level of mental stimulation is a delicate balancing act—one that can be managed by a caregiver who is assigned to meet the needs of just one client at a time.
Managing Behaviours (expressive communication)
Moving into long-term care can be a frightening experience for someone with dementia. Suddenly, everything is different. Routines have changed, the environment has changed, and everything seems to be moving so quickly. Someone with dementia may not be able to articulate how they are feeling. Instead of saying: “I feel frustrated and overwhelmed right now” they may instead act in a way that you’ve never seen before.
Their new behaviour is a form of communication. They are trying to tell you something. . . the hard part is to figure out what they’re trying to say. Nursing home staff who are rushing from resident to resident may not have the time or undivided focus to figure out what your loved one is communicating.
Instead of just seeing “challenging behaviour” we see a form of communication. We consider ourselves to be detectives—we are looking for clues to decode what your parent is attempting to tell us. If we can start to pieces together the clues, we might be able to decode a legend of sorts—a legend that will help interpret future communication.
Nursing homes are large facilities with tons of staff come and going. Warm Embrace Caregivers work alongside long-term care staff to provide the best possible care for your loved one! As a team, we work to ensure all your parent’s needs are being met. Long-term Care staff may focus on their immediate physical needs but our caregivers will take the extra mile to provide your loved one social and emotional support.
It’s a beautiful summer day, and you want to enjoy the gorgeous weather with your elderly parent or grandparent; the big question is, what can you do together? While the heat and sunshine sometimes send the elderly indoors, there are safe ways to enjoy the summer weather (in small doses!). Be sure to select days that are not too hot or humid and remain in the shade as much as possible. Drink lots of water and ensure your loved one is wearing a hat and loose-fitting clothing. Once all the precautions to stay cool are in place, you can enjoy some summer fun activities outdoors!
Here is a Top 10 list of activities that will appeal to older generations and that will spark reminiscing of summers gone by.
1. Watch the Sunset at the Beach — regardless of age, watching the sunset shimmering over the water can be relaxing. If your loved one is up for a challenge, go for a walk along the beach and collect seashells, or build a sandcastle. If the beach is too far away, watch the sunset over the Grand River, or the ponds at your local park.
2. Play Miniature Golf — for avid golfers who can no longer handle the demands of an 18-hole golf course, mini-golf is a way to enjoy putting, without the twisting action of driving the ball.
3. Be a Tourist — sometimes, we overlook some of the greatest local attractions, simply because they are right in our own backyard! Pretend to be a tourist in your own community. Take a train tour around Waterloo Region with the Waterloo Central Railway or take a cruise with Grand River Cruise in Caledonia. Tours are a fun way to see your town from a different angle without being required to walk far distances. You might be surprised about what you can learn about your own community!
4. Make Lemonade from Scratch — this would have been the only way to have lemonade 70 or 80 years ago! Your elderly loved ones may even remember a favourite family recipe. You can always modify the recipe to accommodate diabetic needs by reducing sugar or replacing sugar with sweeteners.
5. Go Fishing — many grandfathers have taken their children and grandchildren on fishing expeditions. Now, it might be your turn to take your grandfather out fishing. Tip: fishing off a pier or stable dock might be more accessible (i.e.: able to use a walker or wheelchair) than fishing from a boat or riverside.
6. Attend a Live Sports Game — the energy of a live sports game can be contagious and exciting! There is accessible seating at all major sports centres, so your loved one can use whatever assistive devices are necessary for safety. If a major league game is too long or intense, attending a grandchild’s (or even a great-grandchild!) team sport might be just as fun!
7. Win a Prize at the Fair — who says that fairs are just for children? Appeal to the inner kid by trying a few midway games. Tip: if your loved one’s gait is unsteady, it might be wise to use a wheelchair throughout the fair as the pushing and shoving of the crowd could pose a safety threat.
8. Have a Picnic at the Park — a good old-fashioned picnic basket filled with favourite treats will always bring a smile! You can be sure to accommodate special dietary requirements when packing the picnic basket. Be sure to look for a picnic table or bring along a lawn chair (sitting directly on the ground might be difficult; getting up from the ground could be even harder!).
9. Pick Wildflowers — who doesn't love a vase full of fresh flowers? It’s even better when you pick the flowers yourself and create the arrangement! Best of all, this fun summer activity doesn’t cost a penny.
10. See a Movie at the Drive-In Theatre — this will feel like a flash from the past! Drive-In theatres still operate and often feature classic movies from varying eras. The drive-in has many benefits for the elderly—they can remain in a comfortable seat in the car, they don’t have to fight any crowds on foot, and the volume can be set to the level that suits their hearing. Of course, it does mean a late night out, but that’s all part of the fun!
Hopefully, you now have an idea or two of a fun, lighthearted way to spend time with elderly relatives while enjoying all that Canadian summer has to offer!
We are all relieved when the snow finally melts, and the mucky spring weather turns into the balmy days of summer. But do you know how to stay cool and healthy in the summer heat?
Many people are aware of the dangers of too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays, which can cause sunburns. Wearing sunscreen is always advised! But there are other concerns about heat, even if you avoid direct sunshine.
Heat exhaustion can occur from prolonged exposure to high temperatures and insufficient fluid intake. It can range from heat cramps to a severe form of heat stroke. Symptoms may include excessive sweating, cool, pale, and clammy skin, weakness, nausea, headache, dizziness, and elevated body temperature. If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, they need to be moved to a cooler place, have their clothing loosened or removed, and they need to drink plenty of cool liquids.
8 Tips to keep seniors (or anyone else!) safe in the summer heat:
1. Keep well hydrated! Drink eight or more glasses of water daily. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink! Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic and sugary beverages, as they may dehydrate rather than hydrate.
2. Dress Appropriately! Wear loose-fitting and light-weight clothing.
3. Air Conditioning is your best friend! Remain indoors in the extreme heat and utilize air conditioning. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a library or shopping mall. Even a few hours of relief from the heat can prevent heat stroke.
4. Electric fans aren’t always the best. Keep the house as cool as possible by keeping shades closed during the hottest part of the day. An electric fan may feel comfortable, but it does not prevent heat-related illness if temperatures soar into the mid-30’s Celsius.
5. Cool down! Take a cool bath, shower, or sponge bath to lower your body temperature. Don’t have the time? Then wet washcloths or towels with cool water and put them on your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck.
6. Enjoy outdoor activities in the early morning or the evening when the heat is not as severe. Don’t forget to use the broad-spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and if it’s sunny wear a hat and a pair of sunglasses.
7. Stayed Shaded when you are outside. Even in the early mornings and evenings, stick to the shade so you aren’t as exposed to the sun’s rays.
8.Know the signs of heat exhaustion so that you can get immediate assistance. Some symptoms to watch for are throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, hot dry skin with no sweat, muscles weakness, cramps and trouble breathing,
Well-being is all about having a positive outlook on life, maintaining a purpose despite stress or loss, having a realistic sense of control over one’s life, and having a strong sense of self. These conditions are not constant but instead fluctuate constantly. It is possible to achieve a sense of well-being even amidst declining health!
But how is well-being achieved?
Some practical ways to achieve well-being would be eating well, exercising, drinking less alcohol, not smoking, and stimulating your mind. But there are also other ways to achieve well-being!
1. Being Optimistic
Optimism is about taking “the sourest lemon life has to offer and then turning it into something resembling lemonade.” Optimism is often associated with happiness or with a positive person but it is much more than that! Practicing optimism has shown to build resiliency, increase goal achievement and increase overall well-being.
2. Being Grateful
Dr. Peter Naus – an advocate for positive views on aging – says to be sure to “count what you have, and not what you lack,” and by doing so you are one step closer to achieving well-being. Gratitude impacts well-being positively because it has shown to reduce anxiety and increase positive emotions. It is a powerful experience to count what you already have rather than focusing on what you don’t have!
3. Seeking Adventure
Believe it or not, old-age can be a time for adventure. In the midst of an adventure, you can discover new insights and experiences! Simply having a vision and a dream can inspire you to experience new adventures – big or small – these memories will hold value, novelty and positive emotions. Dr. Naus encourages us to live well at every stage of life and remember that it is never too late for change!
4. Sharing Wisdom
Sharing wisdom creates a sense of purpose and meaning for many retired seniors! Wisdom is developed over time as you gain insight, practice good judgment and most of all live through varying experiences.
There are pervasive negative connotations throughout Canadian society regarding aging. There is a strong market for “anti-aging” products and services, but the term alone is problematic. By deeming a product or service “anti-aging” it is suggestive that there is an inherent problem with aging.
However, the wisest group in our Canadian society is our aging population! As wisdom is passed down to younger generations, the experience of aging becomes purposeful and meaningful.
Even though abilities may change, health may fluctuate and loses may occur, prioritizing your personal well-being can truly lead to you living your best life.
Seniors are valued for the wisdom they can share with others. They are living proof that aging is not synonymous with being sick and helpless. Instead, old age can be a time for deep fulfillment and pleasure, a time for personal well-being!
June is Seniors’ month, and it’s the perfect time to recognize and appreciate seniors! Seniors prove that aging doesn’t need to prevent anyone from leading fulfilling lives, instead they outline that aging enhances life experiences.
Every day seniors are breaking the mold by leading fulfilling lives! So, let’s put to rest those negative stereotypes when it comes to aging. Instead, we should all celebrate and appreciate the contributions that seniors are making in our communities.
Seniors are an important part of our community because they contribute their wisdom, friendship and experiences. As a community, it is our responsibility to ensure that we create an environment where all citizens are valued and respected throughout the life process.
How do we create that environment?
The key to creating this environment is prioritizing intergenerational opportunities, between the young and the old. When we create intergenerational opportunities, we are creating this space where seniors have the ability to pass along their wisdom and advice to generations. This environment then breaks down barriers between generations and puts to rest negative stereotypes that surround aging. When those barriers are removed, open and honest conversations are shared between different generations. When founded upon mutual respect, intergenerational learning can be deeply impactful for everyone involved!
Why is celebrating our Seniors so important?
When we celebrate our seniors, we are affirming that their contributions are ever so important to the fabric of our communities. Without our seniors’ accomplishments, our communities would not be what they are today!
This June, in honour of Seniors’ month, make an effort to spend time with someone who is from a different generation than you—or maybe even two or three generations! Pause, and truly listen, and learn from each other and you will reap the rewards of intergenerational sharing.
Here at Warm Embrace Elder Care, we want to thank all of the wonderful seniors that we see on a daily basis. We are continually learning from you and are enlightened by your viewpoints. It is an honour to serve you!
You’re sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, watching the clock, waiting for your mother’s medical tests to finally be over. Mentally you’re calculating whether you have enough time to drive your mother home, pick up some groceries, and cook dinner for your teenager. . . or will you be ordering pizza yet again tonight?
If this scene feels at all familiar to you, then you’re likely one of the 712,000 Canadians who fit into the infamous “sandwich generation”. The sandwich generation generally applies to those in their 40’s to 60’s who are simultaneously caring for their aging parents as well as their growing children.
Advances in healthcare are allowing people to live longer lives, though not necessarily healthier lives. The end of one’s life may include more intensive care, further demanding the time and energy of the sandwich generation who is caught between their parents and children. The increased life expectancy has led to another possibility—the club sandwich generation. The club sandwich refers to people who are assisting their aging parents, while also being involved in their children’s, and grandchildren’s lives.
Four living generations is no longer a rare scenario.
It is now possible for families to have two generations who are both in their senior years at the same time! The club sandwich can also apply to someone who is in her 40’s who has teenagers at home, while also assisting her 68 year old parents and her 92 year old grandparents. A woman in this situation is caring for two senior generations simultaneously, while also raising her own family.
Add to this the pressures of work, marriage, personal life, volunteer commitments, and personal health—no wonder there is concern about the sandwich generation suffering burn-out! Often people feel that they should be able to manage all of the simultaneous caregiving because previous generations managed to do so. In reality, previous generations did not experience the sandwich generation phenomenon to the same degree, and they certainly did not experience club sandwich generations!
Recognizing the unique challenges faced by today’s sandwich generation will help to alleviate guilt and replace the sense of “I should be able to do this” with “where can I find meaningful assistance?". Acknowledging that you cannot do it all alone and that you deserve assistance is the first step. There are services available to help so that you don't have to this all alone!
Caring for your own health and well-being is crucial!
Managing to eat healthy meals, and getting exercise needs to be a personal priority, not just something to do if you have time left over—because there is never time left over. If you are feeling completely stressed and burned out, you are in not in the best condition to care for loved ones.
Intead, think about accepting homecare assitance so that you are able to lead a balanced lifestyle that cares for you too! Put support systems in place to assist you in caring for your parents and grandparents. A loving companion aide might be just the solution to support your parents while caring for your health at the same time.
With support systems set in place, you can avoid being toasted, and enjoy as many of your “sandwich” years as possible!
Did you know that your body shape can indicate your risk for heart disease and stroke?
Maintaining a healthy weight is important but where you carry your weight is just as important! Simply weighing yourself is not the only way to determine your health risk.
Excess weight that is carried around your mid-section can affect your heart health in different ways than weight carried on your hips or legs. Your waist measurement is an important number to know!
What is the magic number?
Women: 88cm / 35 inches
Men: 102cm / 40 inches
If you are over the recommended maximum, or even if you are within 3 inches of the recommendation, you are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type-2 diabetes. Reducing your risk for each of these significant health issues can be highly motivating for weight loss!
Unfortunately, nearly 60% of Canadians are overweight or obese, and that increases their risk for each of the above health concerns.
Obese adults are:
4x more likely to have diabetes
3x more likely to have high blood pressure
2x more likely to have heart disease
Maintaining a healthy weight is a key component of prevention for heart disease and stroke. Even modest weight loss can have a positive impact on your health. Shedding 5% of your current weight can be enough to reduce your cholesterol level and your blood pressure. Only a 5% change in your weight and your body begins to thank you with better health!
Exercise and eating well-balanced meals is key!
Shedding those unwanted pounds can be terribly difficult and keeping the pounds off can be even harder. When you realize the goal of weight loss is not just a vain endeavor, but a key component of your health, you might be far more motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle of daily exercise and well-balanced meals.
Track your progress by measuring your waistline and aim to maintain a waistline that is below 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. Remember—each reduction of an inch reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke making the effort all the more worthwhile!
When asked “how much do you exercise?” the answer is invariably “not enough!” We know that we should exercise more, but do we know what the consequences are if we fail to exercise regularly?
Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke(as well as other many other illnesses such as diabetes and even dementia). It is a risk factor that we have control over, so we should reduce our risk!
How much exercise do we really need?
The official guidelines from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommend a minimum of 150 minutes per week of aerobic physical activity. That’s it! That’s an attainable goal—within reach, even for people who aren’t accustomed to exercise. Even 10 minute increments of activity count toward the total of 150 minutes.
Of course, 150 minutes doesn’t need to be a limit. More activity is even better. The guideline is a base limit for how much activity adults (middle age, baby boomers, seniors, and even the frail elderly) require each week.
Which activities count toward your 150 minutes?
The good news is that going to the gym is not your only option! Walking is a simple and easy heart-healthy activity, and counts toward your minutes. Even household activities can count—vigorous cleaning, gardening and yard work all elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping, and that’s the goal of physical activity!
I find it encouraging to measure exercise in terms of 150 minutes weekly because it allows for flexibility. In contrast, if you measure exercise as ’30 minutes most days of the week’, the focus is on 30 minute intervals, and missing a few days in a week can feel like overall failure.
For the frail seniors who are utilizing our Triple Vitality program, they appreciate the flexibility in measuring total minutes over the course of a week. Ten-minute increments feel very accessible. Frail seniors can manage 10 minutes of light exercise! Thirty minutes may be out of reach when we first start, but 10-minute activity sessions throughout the day add up quickly!
Our clients are so encouraged by the progress that they experience. You can feel the benefits of exercise very quickly. Increased energy and stamina, renewed interest in activities, reduced stress, better sleeping and digestion, are all immediate benefits to exercise. Knowing that you are contributing to improved overall health and reducing your risk factors for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other illnesses only increases the incentive to continue being active!
Be sure to track your minutes of activity this week and see how close you are to the recommended minimum of 150 minutes. Remember that 10 minutes of activity at a time can count toward your total!
If you know someone who is elderly and they are unsure about how to become active, be sure to contact Warm Embrace. Our Triple Vitality program is specifically designed for the frail elderly who need assistance to become active. We love to make a healthy, proactive difference in people’s lives, regardless of age!
thank you for the email.. it has been quite some time since I received your emails. I found this exercise information interesting. I just started the wellness program for diabetics at the Y and am slowly getting more active again.
International Women’s Day, and the week leading up to it, is an opportunity to acknowledge the advancement of women, and all of the successes achieved by women. International Women’s Day (IWD) was first observed in 1911 in both Europe and America, and has since grown to become a day of recognition and celebration in both developed and developing countries across the world. In some countries, IWD is a national holiday!
International Women’s Day started as a political event and was primarily focused on women’s economic, political and social achievements. Acknowledging advancements in each of these areas remains important and a focus of IWD, but it has expanded to also be a way to acknowledge all women as a form of respect and appreciation for all that women do—both publicly and privately.
Here at Warm Embrace, we are honoured to have so many fabulous women on our team! Our wonderful employees make a different in their client’s lives every single day! We have fantastic women on our team who make a difference in a quiet way, selflessly meeting the needs of other. We want to acknowledge and publicly appreciate the wonderful women on our team for the meaningful service they diligently provide.
We are also inspired to serve elderly female clients, many of whom are well aware that women have made incredible progress; our elderly clients lived through an era that is quite different from today! We are always amazed at the stories of bravery and triumph when our clients share details of how they fought for personal progress. We certainly owe a debt of gratitude for the many women—and men—who came before us and ensured that today’s women would have greater opportunities by changing the course of history. It is an honour to serve such inspiring people!
In recognition of International Women’s Day, we want to say a special thank you to all of the extraordinary women who paved the way for this generation of young women to experience greater equality, and to continue working toward even greater progress.