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It's Okay to Ask for Help

 

When self-isolating at home, have you found yourself scrolling through random online updates more often than you want to admit?  If so, you’ve probably seen articles and posts about parents who are going crazy being cooped up with their children for weeks on end. Both the parents and the children are feeling the strain.

 

It isn’t just the parents of young children who are feeling the parent-child relationship strain. It can be felt at all ages but is showing up particularly strongly for those who have been thrust into a caregiving role that is more extensive than they anticipated.

 

Adult children of ageing parents who have dementia or other high-care needs may suddenly find many of their regular support systems removed. The Adult Day Program that your mother attended a few days weekly is now closed; her regular social groups at the church have shut down; even the PSW who usually comes to bathe her has not been coming. Your mother’s schedule is in upheaval and you have become the primary—and only—caregiver.

 

It can be pretty overwhelming to suddenly find yourself in the full-time position of caring for someone with dementia. While you’re happy to help sometimes on some days, being the only support person day after day is wearing you out and you’re starting to feel the strain.

 

 

It is okay to admit that, just like your mother, you’ve experienced a massive upheaval in your schedule and routine, with newly added responsibilities.  And though you may be tempted to think “I’m not working at the moment so I should be fully available to care for mom,” providing 24/7 dementia support is more than one full-time job.

 

Providing care to a loved one with dementia is more than just physically taxing. It can be emotionally exhausting as well. There are certainly very meaningful moments with laughter and joy, but when it is your parent or your spouse whom you’ve known for decades, it will undoubtedly be emotionally exhausting as well.

 

Just because you are home at the moment and may not be working does not mean that you are equipped to provide 24/7 dementia care. It is okay to acknowledge that sometimes, a professional is required and someone who is not related to your mother may be better able to provide the assistance she needs right now.

 

Fortunately, caregivers to the elderly are essential and permitted to continue caring for seniors. Here at Warm Embrace, we continue to serve our longstanding clients and we are also equipped to help families who are now finding themselves in need of more care.

 

As an essential service provider, we’re here to help your family through this difficult time. Contact us for more information.

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4 Fun Spring Activities for this Year!

After a long winter indoors the sunshine and longer days are a treat! We all feel bright and cheery when the sun is shining and that's because pleasant weather improves mood. Studies have shown that "being outside in pleasant weather really offers a way to reset your mindset." People who spent 30 minutes outside on a sunny day improved their mental health and mood! It's time to go back outside to enjoy the warm weather safely.

 

Here are 4 outdoor activities to try this spring!

 

1. Get to gardening

 

Growing plants in little black pots

 

This is the perfect time to get your garden summer ready! You can clean up the yard and start planting beautiful flowers like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, or violas. If flowers aren't your thing, you can get an early start on your vegetable garden and plant tomatoes, carrots, onions, and much more. For older adults where mobility is a challenge bring gardening indoors with indoor planters and pots. Try repotting an easy-care plant such as a cactus or succulent. You can enjoy gardening safely inside!

 

2. Go on a walk

 

You can cure the winter blues by going on a daily walk in the spring! Walking outside has shown to increase creativity, reduce stress, and improve concentration. When you're walking outside, you're enjoying what mother nature has to offer - the sunshine, the birds singing, the green grass and the budding flowers. There are beautiful parks and trails in the Waterloo region! You can head to Waterloo Park, Victoria Park, or the Walter Bean trail to enjoy the fresh air. Local parks are a great option for older adults because they have paved paths for walking assistive devices.

 

3. Play an outdoor game

 

As we get older, we lose the art and joy of play - especially playing outside. In our hectic lives, we should take time to play because it offers relaxation, stimulation, fuels our imagination, improves problem-solving abilities and emotional well-being. Play could be sharing jokes, throwing a ball around, blowing bubbles, or a fun yard game, like ring toss. It's easy to play outside! Whatever game you like to play inside - take it outside! If your elderly loved one likes playing card games, play outside on a comfortable picnic bench.

 

4. Bird watching

 

Cardinal sitting on a branch

 

If you're looking for a new hobby, you should consider bird watching. You can learn more about birds and also practice the art of slowing down. When birding, you're task involves waiting patiently and still for the birds to appear. It contrasts our hectic daily lives of being on the go!

 

As the birds return for spring, you can head to bird-watching areas to be surrounded by nature. A great local birding spot is the Grand River. They have "hot spot" recommendations listed on their website. Bird watching can be also done in the comforts of your backyard or local park. At home, you and your elderly loved one can set up a bird feeder and watch the birds, or you can sit on a bench at the park to watch the birds.

 

From birding to gardening and everything in-between the goal is to be outside to enjoy the sunshine. This spring commit to 30 mins of outdoor activity on a sunny day! It can be as simple as sitting outside on the front porch or walking a nearby trail. It's time to go back outside to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather!

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My Loved One has Fallen! What's Next?

A resident named, Delores, fell three times in two weeks. Her third fall landed her in the hospital where she remained for 10 days.  She was at risk of falling previously, but now, after 10 days of deconditioning in the hospital, her risk is even higher.

 

Delores has long been on the waitlist for long term care, but now that her needs have escalated, her care is beyond what can be safely managed within a retirement setting.

 

retirement home hallway filled with wheelchairs

 

To escalate her placement on the LTC waitlist, Delores had to be discharged from the hospital under the Home First LHIN strategy.  She went back to her residence after her 10-day hospital stay.

 

Now that Delores is in the community, she can be reassessed for long term care and be considered a crisis level. Even if someone is on the crisis list though, it doesn’t mean that a bed is immediately available.

 

Delores may still be waiting for weeks—or longer—for a suitable LTC placement to become available.

 

In the meantime, Delores is in your care, and she’s at an extremely high risk of falling. You are now worried that she cannot be left alone since she forgets that she is at risk of falling and she is inclined to get up and try to walk without her walker. Since her previous three falls were all attempts to make it to the washroom, you are very well aware that she may attempt to rush to the washroom and fall yet again.

 

Warm Embrace can help to meet this need! 

 

If Delores is on the crisis waitlist for LTC and she needs 24/7 attendant care, the LHIN may provide some PSW support for various shifts. Warm Embrace can provide the rest. We can cover up to 24/7 care to ensure that Delores is never left alone.  We can help to bridge the gap before Delores receives a suitable placement in long term care. This way, Delores is safe and has the one-on-one attendant care that she needs. 

 

Just think how relieved you will feel, knowing that you can utilize the support of Warm Embrace when someone you know is awaiting crisis LTC placement.

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4 Ways to Achieve Well-being

What is "well-being"? 

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.

 

young lady watching a hazy sunset

 

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 ageing – 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 a 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.

 

elderly lady wearing a floral blouse and glasses

 

There are pervasive negative connotations throughout Canadian society regarding ageing. There is a strong market for “anti-ageing” products and services, but the term alone is problematic. By deeming a product or service “anti-ageing” it is suggestive that there is an inherent problem with ageing.

 

However, the wisest group in Canadian society is our ageing population! As wisdom is passed down to younger generations, the experience of ageing becomes purposeful and meaningful. Even though abilities may change, health may fluctuate and losses 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 ageing 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! 

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Women's day: Choose to Challenge

International Women’s day is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments while also pressing forward to ensure equality for women globally.  Each year is designated with a specific theme; this year’s theme is Choose to Challenge.

 

Choose to Challenge encourages us all—men, women and nonbinary alike—to challenge our assumptions, our stereotypes, our mentality of “because it’s always been this way.” We are choosing to say “it doesn’t HAVE to be this way”.

 

black and white photo of 3 women from the 30s in New York

 

Indeed, it is generations of women who have continually chosen to challenge assumptions and stereotypes who paved the way for greater levels of equality today as compared to fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago.

 

I want to pay homage to a host of women we have served who actively Choose to Challenge the system and forged the way for many of the opportunities from which I and my cohort have benefitted.

 

Over the past 14 years, Warm Embrace Elder Care has served countless incredible women who were primarily in their 80’s and 90’s and some who were even over 100 years old! We have had the distinct honour of learning about their lives, the hardships they faced, the battles they fought, and all the challenges they chose to overcome.

 

These women were born in the 1920’s or early 1930’s.  They were born after the First World War had ended and the soldiers returned from war. They were raised through the Depression Era of the 1930’s and were coming of age during WWII. Women of that generation were expected to marry and have children…often when they were barely older than children themselves. While that was the expected narrative, many of our clients Chose to Challenge the stereotypes and forge their own paths.

 

Administrative & Management

 

Warm Embrace Elder Care has served women who all worked in clerical settings, but would not accept the title or role of Secretary. Instead, one woman became an Accountant and ran her own company, eventually expanding it to include three partners and she remained one of the principal partners until her retirement. Another woman worked as a Claims Specialist for the Workman’s Compensation Board of Ontario, and someone else became a Supervisor over a whole team of employees at the local tax office.  In her late retirement, the Supervisor would regale our caregivers with stories of how she and the women in her office would manage to improve conditions for women—sometimes by following the rules and playing within the system, and sometimes from being very creative with bending those rules!

 

Education

 

Then there are the women who insisted upon proceeding with higher education, and in many different subject areas. One woman we served was instrumental at the Veterinary College at the University of Guelph and travelled extensively to help with research and the founding of other veterinary colleges internationally. She had a fascinating career that spanned decades and took her to every continent. Upon retirement from the University, she started her own consulting company to keep her busy and actively engaged in the community well into her senior years. Warm Embrace Elder Care was honoured to serve her in her later senior years, and at any mention of a research study, she would sit up straight, lean forward, and look you straight in the eye while asking detailed questions. Her thirst for knowledge never waned; she continually wanted to learn more and remain on the forefront of academic research.

 

Another client of ours earned her PhD in chemistry as the first woman in her field, and went on to become a Chemistry Professor with numerous accolades to her name. She can recount stories of when she was the only female professor in the sciences and her classes were all male students too. Today we are still encouraging young women to enter the STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) programs of study, but it is thanks to the women who have passed before us that the conversation today is about how to have even more young women in STEM; the conversation is no longer simply about whether women should be permitted in STEM subjects at all.

 

Black and white photo of women meeting in a board room

 

Social Services

 

One of our clients had a twinkle in her eye that continued to shine until the very end. She had a zest for life and a deep concern for the well-being of others.  Today, she might have been called a Social Justice Warrior. In her time, she was a woman on a mission.  She was so frustrated at the local societal support for women that she took it upon herself to found and then fund what is today known as Anselma House. She was passionate about helping women to escape domestic violence and then supporting them to start a new life. She had so hoped to eradicate domestic violence in her lifetime. Over a decade ago at a ribbon cutting for a new shelter, she was quoted as saying “I resent that we need this building today,” and in 2021 we continue to need Anselma House as much as the day it was founded in 1978.  Her passion and tireless advocacy are behind some of the social support systems that are still in operation today.

 

Business

 

There’s a woman whose accomplishments in the 1960’s and 1970’s would still be considered gender-barrier-shattering even by today’s standards!  She founded her own construction company and went head-to-head with the major developers in the region.  Involved in both residential and commercial development, her construction company was known for quality and unique design.  Owning her own business was certainly an accomplishment; to have done so in a male-dominated field is even more impressive!

 

 

Each of these incredible women faced barriers that they had to overcome; they each Chose to Challenge gender expectations, stereotypes and assumptions.  They were often the only woman at the board room table or in the professor’s lounge.  They proceeded with excellence and demonstrated that women deserve to be at the table. It is thanks to their fortitude that it is no longer ground breaking to find a woman starting her own company, or to see a female professor in the STEM programs.

 

To all of these inspirational women who were clients of Warm Embrace Elder Care, I want to say THANK YOU for Choosing to Challenge the assumptions that you did which have led to increased opportunities for women today.  You have passed the torch, and this generation will carry your work forward as we continually Choose to Challenge for today’s women and for future generations.

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Springing Forward!

It’s almost that time of year again—time to change the clocks!

 

The springtime change has a hopeful element to it; the days get longer and you have more daylight to enjoy in the evening hours.  It almost feels like you can measure the increased daylight every day!  It signals that spring is truly on its way.

 

There is one big challenge first though.  That’s the loss of one hour!  For most of us, that means the loss of an hour of sleep.

 

Blue clock on a wall

 

It would seem as though losing one hour of sleep shouldn’t be that detrimental. Surely we can handle one less hour of sleep.  And yet, statistics indicate that losing one hour of sleep does impact us, and not for the better.   It’s a well-known fact that there is a higher incident rate of automobile collisions on the Monday following the spring time change. Some studies have indicated an increased risk of heart attack too!  

 

If losing one hour of sleep can cause us to drive poorly and increase our risk of heart attack, what does it do for someone with dementia who may not understand what is happening with the time change?

 

Adjusting to the time change is essentially like dealing with jet lag. While it is only a one-hour difference, it is enough to throw us out of whack for a few days as we slowly adjust. Our bodies are finely tuned mechanisms that follow a very careful circadian rhythm.  When that rhythm is interrupted, it takes us a while to get back on track.  If that much adjustment is needed for those of us who can cognitively understand the time change, how much more difficult is it for someone with dementia who cannot tell time?

 

Someone with advanced dementia may not be able to tell time anymore. Some days, it may seem as if they don’t have much routine if they are waking at odd hours and sleeping during the day. But even if their routine has shifted from what it was years ago, they still have an internal sense of the passing of time. Suddenly missing an hour throws off that internal sense, and it can feel disorienting and confusing.

 

Sleep is critical for brain functioning in all people, and especially so for those with dementia.  The brain needs a chance to recover and it is during sleep that memory is encoded. When someone’s brain is impacted by a disease that impairs memory, they may require extra sleep to encode even minimal memory.  Sleep is essential, and losing an hour of sleep can have an enormous impact on how someone functions. 

 

a bed

 

As much as possible, try to adjust bedtime and waking time in advance of the time change to make it a more gradual adjustment rather than a one-hour change overnight.  On the eve of the time change and the subsequent nights, ensure that your loved one still receives their usual allotment of sleep, even if it means going to bed a bit earlier or getting up a bit later.

 

When caring for someone with moderate or advanced dementia, just knowing what to expect can make a difference.  Recognize that the time change is just like dealing with jet-lag and it will be an adjustment for your loved one. Expect that they may exhibit some unusual behaviour or feel agitated and anxious the week following the time change.

 

Prepare as much as possible by making the adjustment gradual. And remember, these adjustments will be helpful not only for your loved one but also for you!

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Speeding Up Spring

Are you experiencing a case of cabin fever?

Don’t be discouraged and let the cabin fever get to you—instead, speed up spring!

 

One of the best ways to bring spring to you is to start your gardening early—indoors! Rather than waiting on mother nature to cooperate for a display of spring colours, get things started yourself by forcing bulbs.

 

Indoor gardening is a very accessible way to garden. There is no need to bend over or kneel on the hard ground. Bulbs require very little maintenance or effort. Indoor gardening is a great way to connect with an elderly loved one’s passion and hobby without being overwhelming or too physically demanding. It can also be a great intergenerational activity, drawing children and grandparents—or even great grandparents—together over a common task.

 

Forcing bulbs indoors mimic the outdoor environment that causes a bulb to grow and bloom. Unlike large, potted house plants, bulbs do not need big pots. A small, shallow dish is sufficient. Many bulbs are easily forced using only water and pebbles, rather than soil, resulting in much easier clean up when gardening indoors. It is also more fun to watch the roots develop and see the bulb change as it grows. New growth development is exciting to see—at any age!

 

new plants growing

 

Using your shallow container, fill it half full of pebbles or marbles, then place the bulbs on top of the pebble layer. Gently fill the rest of the container with pebbles or marbles to secure the bulbs in place, but do not completely bury the bulbs. Put enough water in the dish so that the water touches the bottom of the bulb, but do not submerge the bulb in water or it will begin to rot.

 

The step that is most often overlooked when forcing bulbs is the chilling step. Your freshly “planted” bulbs need to be chilled in a cellar or in the fridge to mimic the winter season. Some bulbs only need a few days of chilling, and others need a much more extended chilling period of several weeks. Be sure to check the specifications on the bulbs that you purchase.

 

NOTE: Please do NOT store bulbs in an elderly person’s fridge. If that person has dementia or mild cognitive impairment, the bulbs (or pebbles) could be mistaken for other produce. Likewise, if your loved one has impaired vision, the bulbs could appear similar to onions. Senses such as taste and smell become dulled for many people as they age; the smell or bitter taste that might alert you to food being harmful may not alert an elderly loved one.

 

When roots begin to show you will know that your bulbs are ready to begin their growth cycle and it is time to remove them from the chilling stage. With roots now showing, your bulbs are ready to be moved into warmth and sunlight. You need to introduce them to sunlight slowly, just the way that the spring sunlight is soft at first and then gradually gets warmer. Place your bulbs in a cooler area of your home, away from direct sunlight. When your plants begin to grow and the stems take on a healthy green colour, then it is time to move them to a sunny windowsill to watch the beauty unfold!

 

flowers on a plate with exposed bulbs

 

In theory, any bulb can be forced to grow indoors, but some varieties are easier to force than others. Paperwhite narcissus grows well indoors and does not require a very long chilling period. They grow well in water and pebbles and are quite fragrant. Amaryllis are very easy to force and the blooms are giant and colourful. They grow so quickly that you can see growth daily.

 

The warmer the environment, the faster the amaryllis will grow. Once it blooms, it is best to move the plant to a cooler, shaded area for the blooms to last longer, as they can remain for up to a month.

 

Hyacinth and crocus can also be forced and take eight to ten weeks to grow. Although tulips are a favourite spring bloom, they are probably best enjoyed out in the garden as they can be trickier to force and require a long chilling period of sixteen weeks.

 

Enjoy your head start on spring by forcing your favourite bulbs indoors, and use this easy, timeless, and ageless activity to connect various members of your family. You will have spring beauty unfolding in your own living room—no matter how much snow remains on the ground outside!

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Your Role in Creating an Inclusive Community

Inclusion is a hot topic and a very important one for our elderly population. It emphasizes the importance of inviting the active participation of all citizens, including our elderly population, into our social fabric. Our current social fabric has changed with the pandemic making it difficult for seniors to be active participants. It’s important we protect our elderly population by practicing social distancing and by wearing PPE, but we must also take next steps to protect their wellbeing.

 

Social Isolation and Loneliness 

 

Studies have found that social isolation and loneliness are major risk factors linked to increased blood pressure, heart disease, diminished immune system, depression, anxiety, and poor cognitive functioning. Social isolation has a profound impact on older adults' health and wellbeing!

 

The Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA) has reported (before COVID-19) that:

  • Being socially isolated is a common affliction among older adults. More than 30% of Canadian seniors are at risk of becoming socially isolated.
  • Isolation and loneliness are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
  • And, social isolation can put seniors at increased risk for elder abuse.

 

What can you do to help?

 

1. Welcome your elderly loved one into the online world

 

black and white photo of an elderly lady with glasses sitting on a bench using her cellphone

 

Don’t assume your elderly loved one can’t use a smartphone, tablet or computer, instead encourage them by writing out instructions so they can connect online with their friends and loved ones. They will pleasantly surprise you! When they get the hang of it pay attention to their feedback and advocate for technological improvements.

 

Technology is a powerful tool but it needs improvement to include everyone – not just the abled. It’s time for developers and creators to involve older adults and family caregivers in the creation process. There are millions of apps out there but the majority of them aren’t suited for the elderly. The first step, you can take is leaving reviews on google or the app store.

 

 

2. Advocate for an age-friendly community

 

Being age-friendly means that there are no barriers to accessing services in the community, regardless of age or ability. A city that is designed to include and be accessible for its elderly residents is automatically factoring in the needs of its younger population.

 

For example, if a community is accessible for someone using a walker or wheelchair, it is also accessible to a parent pushing a stroller. The examples that we think of quickly are usually about physical accommodation such as ramps, wider doorways, longer crosswalk signals, accessible parking etc. You can advocate by attending virtual town halls, writing emails to your local MP, and voting at the next municipal elections.

 

3. Challenge ageist stereotypes and bias

 

Dr. John Lewis, professor at the University of Waterloo, points out that currently, one-quarter of Waterloo Region’s population is age 55 plus. That number is only going to increase in the next few decades. It is not acceptable that there are ageist prejudices towards 1/4 of our population! If we want to have a community that is inclusive to all members, it needs to be designed to suit those who are age 55 and older.

 

Often, these issues relate directly to coping with ageism. Ageism is the stereotyping of and prejudices against someone because of their age. It might include automatically treating someone in a certain way, just because they appear to be a senior.

 

For example, assuming someone is hard of hearing because they have gray hair is an ageist stereotype. Another example is the way that professionals often speak about a senior to their family members, as though the senior is not even in the room! The conversation should be directed to the relevant person, regardless of age.

 

Age is just a number. There are stories online of incredible seniors thriving in their 80s and even 90s! For example, Gladys Burrill at the age of 86 completed her first Honolulu Marathon. She was also a world traveller, a licensed pilot, an avid hiker and a prolific gardener. Read stories online and share them on social media to challenge ageism and other stereotypes. 

 

4. Respect and include those with Dementia

 

black and white portrait of an elderly man with glasses

 

In addition to physical challenges, some people experience cognitive changes. These people deserve the same level of respect and inclusion as all other members of society. Brenda Hounam, dementia advocate and spokesperson, highly advises communicating about dementia itself. Rather than hiding her challenges with dementia, she has decided to be very public and make others aware of her disease.

 

Hounam suggests that people “open the doors for communication—just ask”. She feels that it is much better to ask for clarification and to communicate clearly with someone who has dementia; do not just make assumptions. She asks that people do more than just listen; she wants people to truly hear and validate what she is saying. Hounam’s overarching message is that “we are all unique, and we all have something to contribute until the last breath.”

 

Being inclusive and respectful of all citizens—regardless of age, ability, or illness—better allows us to fully acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of all members of society.

 

5. Encourage community and support

 

Your elderly loved one is socially distancing but they don't have to be socially isolated! Reach out to your loved one regularly by chatting on phone or by setting up a safely distanced date. If you can't visit them in person, try contacting an organization for support. At Warm Embrace Elder Care, there are wonderful caregivers who can safely visit your elderly loved one! Our caregivers wear PPE and encourage proper nutrition, physical exercise and mental stimulation.

 

During this pandemic, social distancing has become a safety protocol but it shouldn't have to coincide with social isolating. Let's take the necessary steps together to protect our elderly population. If you have questions or comments, write a comment below or contact us!

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Happy Family Day

February is no longer just the month for lovers— it is now the month for families! Have you created any family traditions yet for this day off work and school? 

 
Family Day is an opportunity to spend time with the people who mean the most to you.

Even though this year Family Day will be particularly difficult, there are ways you can still celebrate online

 

young black family cooking in the kitchenOne of the wonderful things about Family Day is that it has not been commercialized—the stores are not full of merchandise and the holiday is not associated with overspending, overeating, and overstressing! It is a holiday with no strings attached. Just a chance to pause and enjoy the people who matter most

 
Enjoy this holiday as a day to keep things simple and low-key. Pause and notice the beauty of a quiet winter day, watch for birds in the trees, photograph the dripping icicles, cook a homemade meal, bake a favourite recipe, share favourite memories, sip hot chocolate and watch a classic movie.  

 

Whatever you do, remember to say “I love you” and let your family know just how much you appreciate them. Family is certainly not just restricted to blood relatives either. Anyone who is close to you can be considered as family—friends, neighbours, acquaintances from church, social clubs, etc. If someone is meaningful to you, then consider them as family! 
 

From everyone at Warm Embrace Elder Care, we wish you a wonderful Family Day! 

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Reasons Why Family Caregiving Does NOT Work

Family caregiving is an honourable endeavour and can be intensely meaningful and fulfilling.  But not all families are the same, and there are situations where family caregiving for an elderly parent or relative may not be suitable. In some situations, attempting to be a family caregiver can actually cause more upset to the overall family than enlisting external help.  

 

3 generations in one picture

 

Here is a top 5 list of reasons where family caregiving may cause more strife than benefit.

 

1. Siblings rivalry was never outgrown

 

Do you still squabble with your siblings as much as you did when you were children?  Family caregiving can be challenging in and of itself; add sibling rivalry and the emotional toll just jumped to a whole new level. Siblings who exert more effort competing than cooperating will not likely set their personal issues aside and be completely agreeable over care for mom or dad.

 

When there are long-standing sibling rivalry issues it often ends up feeling as if you can’t do anything right. No matter which action you take, it is misinterpreted by your siblings. You provide hands-on care, it is criticized; you step back to allow your siblings the opportunity to participate, and you’re labelled as “uninvolved” or “being selfish”. With dynamics like this at play, involved family caregiving likely won’t heal sibling wounds. Rather, there is a great risk that the sibling divide deepens.

 

In family caregiving, the recipient of care—your elderly parent or grandparent—needs to be the focus. Sibling rivalry can’t continue to be the main issue at hand. Out of fairness to your elderly loved ones, you may want to enlist external support so that long-standing sibling rivalries don’t rear again over family care.

 

2. Your parent is intensely private or modest

 

Every family has different comfort levels around privacy and personal care. For someone who was intensely private and modest her entire life, she may find it terribly uncomfortable to have family or friends assist with personal care, such as bathing or toileting. An elderly mother may not wish to have her sons bathing her—and her sons are often even more uncomfortable with personal care than is she!

 

For these families, the kindest option is to have someone else provide personal care—someone who was not previously known to the elderly mother. This way, she can maintain her dignity and privacy in front of her sons, her daughters-in-law, and her friends. Receiving support from a caregiver whose role it is to provide personal care is exceedingly different than forgoing privacy and modesty in front of family and friends. It is less about gender and more about personal preference and maintaining dignity.

 

The role reversal between parents and children is a complex issue that is deeply personal. It is challenging enough when adult children are suddenly managing schedules and household needs; crossing into the realm of personal care can exacerbate the role reversal.

 

3. Personality Clashes

 

Let’s face it—most families are not like the Brady Bunch. Not everyone gets along, and there are decades of history by the time caregiving for elderly family members arises. The elderly grandfather who suddenly needs assistance does not develop a new personality just because he suddenly requires care. If he was ornery his whole life, it is likely he will be ornery in his senior years too!

 

If he burned bridges with various family members in the past, it may be unrealistic to expect family members to set aside their grudges and hurt and begin family caregiving for Grandpa. In addition to past hurts that may be resurrected, those same family members are now exposed to a whole new host of potential personal insults. Grandpa is also less likely to be a gracious recipient of care from family members with whom he is accustomed to being ornery. There is a better chance that Grandpa will actually be kinder and more satisfied receiving care from someone outside the family.

 

It may just be that parent and child have two different personalities or styles that clash in a caregiving situation. Perhaps an elderly father prefers to be very detailed, slow and meticulous, doing things in the particular way that he has always done. His adult daughter—who loves him dearly and is trying so hard to help—is fighting her natural tendency toward efficiency. She wants to accomplish tasks quickly since she is already torn between her demanding career and her own family waiting for her at home.

 

The father and daughter have different styles and different personality types—something that may have been complimentary at other stages in life. But when it comes to caregiving and ensuring that her father has the quality of life that he prefers at whatever pace is comfortable to him, his daughter would be well-advised to step back and allow a professional caregiver to assist her father in the way he needs.

 

4. You're just not a caregiver at heart

 

Truth be told, you’re just not the caregiving type. We can’t all be good at everything; being compassionate, gentle and patient just aren’t your top strengths. There’s a reason you didn’t become a nurse or an activities director at a retirement home. You know your strength, and it isn’t caregiving.

 

elderly person hands

 

There’s no shame in acknowledging that you’re just not the right person for the job. Your strengths can be utilized in other ways to support your elderly loved one.  when it comes to personal care and more intimate needs, you would be wise to enlist the support of someone who is particularly compassionate, gentle and patient for the sake of your elderly loved one. They deserve the best and a trained caregiver can provide what you cannot.

 

5. You don't live locally 

 

Today’s families are more spread out geographically than ever before. Family members may be time zones apart, and visiting regularly just isn’t possible. When you do visit, you stay for a week at a time and try to get everything mom needs, but you’ve noticed that each time you visit, she needs a little more than last time. You feel bad that she’s on her own between your visits, and you worry about her more and more all the time.

 

It’s more than just stocking up on groceries and running errands. You want to know that mom has a reliable caregiver to accompany her to appointments since doctor’s appointments cannot always wait until you’re in town. You want the best for your mother. She deserves consistent care that isn’t dependent upon your work schedule. You also want the peace of mind that someone is checking in on your mom, even when you are not in town.

 

If your family fits into any of these 5 categories, then family caregiving may not be advised.  Family caregiving is highly stressful and involved in the best of situations, but if you add any of the above five elements, you may want to enlist some additional care for your ageing loved ones. 

 

It’s okay to admit that your family is better suited to enlisting caregiver support from outside the family. Doing so maybe just the thing your family needs to keep everyone sane and happy!

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