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Dignified Care means Allowing Sufficient Time

 

Homecare can be defined pretty broadly and mean different things to different people.  To some, it might mean dropping in to check on someone for 5 or 10 mins, for someone else it could be 24/7 care in someone’s home.  It could be just about anything in between!

 

To ensure that our clients receive the best possible service, we have placed parameters around the type of service we can offer to ensure top quality.  Here at Warm Embrace, the minimum visit length we offer is three hours. We have set this minimum to ensure that we are fulfilling our mission and our philosophy of care

 

Within the context of homecare, where an elderly client is living in their own home, apartment or condo, there are some additional reasons why the three-hour minimum is necessary.

 

 

Have you ever dropped by your elderly parents’ home with the intent of staying for a half hour visit?  How did that turn out?  I’m willing to bet that you stayed much longer than just 30 minutes!  Why is that?

 

I’m guessing that by the time you got in the door and settled, got caught up with some friendly chit-chat and had a coffee, you were already at the 30-minute mark.  Just as you were thinking you would head out the door, your mother mentioned a new symptom that’s bothering her.  You discussed that and tried to track down whether a doctor’s appointment had been made since your mother couldn’t remember. Then your father mentioned that the microwave wasn’t working properly so they weren’t sure what they were going to have for dinner.  The next thing you know, you’re busy making dinner for them and your quick 30-minute drop-in lasted a few hours.

 

Of course, your parents tend to stock-pile all the issues until you arrive. Then it takes longer to address everything.  The same is true for our visits.  Clients may save up the dishes and the housekeeping and laundry pile up.  The items you plan in advance that you figure might take an hour or so end up taking much longer when the list keeps growing!

 

It’s not just about tasks; it’s also about pacing.

 

If you personally have a doctor’s appointment at 11 am, how much time do you allow yourself to get showered, dressed, ready and out the door?  Now, what if your parents have a doctor’s appointment at 11 am?  It takes a lot more time since every step in the process needs to be adjusted to allow the extra time they may require or prefer.

 

It likely takes much longer for them to manage to get in and out of the shower.  Selecting an outfit and dressing likely takes longer, as does personal grooming and other morning routines.  Physically getting into and out of the car may take longer, and your parents may prefer to be at the appointment 20 minutes early instead of arriving just on time. . .despite the fact that the doctor is always behind schedule and you know you’ll end up waiting anyway!

 

 

Out of respect for your parents, we allow significant time for outings to ensure that we can match their preferred pace, not our preferred pace.  We know that each stage will take much longer and that we need to allow lots of extra time should something unexpected arise.  If we’re just getting your parents settled in the car and your mother suddenly needs the washroom once more before leaving, we need to have allowed lots of extra time to deal with the (somewhat) unexpected.  For your parents’ sake, we would never attempt to accomplish an outing in only an hour long shift.  Part of providing dignified care is allowing sufficient time for outings and errands and matching your parents’ pace, not necessarily just focusing on fastest efficiency.  It takes time to do things well and the minimum time we need to ensure top quality is three hours.

 

Granting your parents the dignity of matching their preferred pace, ensuring that we have extra time built in for the unexpected, and knowing that they may have a stockpiled list ready for our arrival are all part of how we plan in advance to meet your parents’ needs. 

 

Relationships are about so much more than speed and efficiency; your parents will thrive from the attention they receive from a wonderful caregiver who takes the time to appreciate them for who they are and who gets to know them on a personal level without rushing.

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Are you doing everything for your elderly parents?

 

You’ve been managing your own household, your parents’ household and now your in-laws need some help too.  You already feel stretched too thin, and your parents’ needs keep increasing. You need homecare support for your parents, but they refuse to even consider it.

 

Your father says he “doesn’t need a babysitter” and your mother declares that she can “do everything just fine myself”.  And by that, what she really means is that you are doing everything just fine for them!

 

Your parents think they’re managing just fine because you’re filling in all the gaps.  They don’t realize just how much you’re doing. They just benefit from the fact that everything gets done.

 

 

For years, you’ve been trying to follow your parent’s wishes.  You respect their decisions and do your best to help support them in those decisions. They keep saying they don’t want or need any help and you’ve been trying to respect it.

 

The problem is, they not only need the help, but they are also already receiving help.  The help is coming from you, and it’s now more than you can manage on your own.   It is okay to acknowledge that you can no longer provide all the assistance that they need.  You aren’t failing to respect their decision, you are making a decision that is necessary for your own health and wellness.

 

You can explain to your parents what you are able to do, and outline the tasks that are now becoming too much.  You can outline options for how your parents can fill the remaining gaps and empower them to make a decision that best suits their needs.

For example, you are willing to do the weekly grocery shopping and visit with your parents after putting all the groceries away, but it is no longer feasible for you to be cooking dinner for them every day.

 

You can then outline meal options for them.  They could order Meals on Wheels or another meal delivery service. They could move into a retirement home where meals are provided. They can have a caregiver cook meals together with them in their own kitchen, using their own preferred recipes.

 

You can help outline the pros and cons of each option, and how each option would fit into their lifestyle.

 

 

Stepping back and acknowledging what you need for yourself does not take away your parents’ ability to make their own decision. It just eliminates one of the options from the list—the option of you cooking the meals daily.

 

As long as you continue to be the primary option, as long as you continue to cook dinner daily, your parents will not seriously consider any other option on the list.  You need to clearly articulate what you can and cannot do, and then guide your parents through the decision making process about how to solve the remaining gaps.

 

Homecare can address many of those gaps and provide the individualized attention and assistance they are accustomed to receiving.  Homecare is not always just about the senior client; it is often about alleviating family members who have been doing far more than is sustainable. 

 

A wonderful caregiver—or team of caregivers—can take care of your parents’ to-do list so that it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders. 

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Surviving the Holidays when you’re grieving

 

 

For many people, the holidays can be hard enough as it is. But if you have lost a loved one in the past year(s), then this holiday season might be particularly difficult.

 

Somehow, the month of December manages to spiral out of control. A calendar goes from being reasonable to a little busy, and then to being completely chaotic, and you’re not even sure how it happened! This is the year to eliminate the stress of all those commitments.

 

 

Below are the top 5 strategies to help you survive this season.

1. AVOID COMMITMENTS

 

Decline invitations for events that aren't particularly meaningful for you personally. For invitations that you would like to accept, only make conditional acceptances—you will attend IF you are feeling well that day, and don't commit to bringing or contributing anything. 

 

Schedule personal time for yourself. You will need periods of personal rejuvenation to give you the strength to socialize. Grief is a roller-coaster and unfortunately, you cannot predict when you will feel like socializing, and when you would prefer to be alone. Grant yourself the freedom to make last minute decisions based on how you are feeling at the moment, rather than feeling locked into any specific commitment.

 

2. REDUCE DECISION-MAKING

 

You may feel like you are in a fog; everything is cloudy. Even simple decisions have become laborious. The holiday season is full of decisions to be made. This year, offer yourself the relief of reducing as many of those decisions as possible. Ask a trusted loved one to help you with decisions, or remove yourself from stressful situations that require decision making.

 

 

Avoid shopping. Shopping is rife with decisions—from the moment you arrive at the mall and need to find a parking space to the point where you’re selecting a check-out lane, you are forced to make decisions that are exhausting. It's okay to take a year off from gift giving. Selecting gifts (even when shopping online), can seem unbearably overwhelming. Maybe you’d like to give gifts at a different time during the year when you don’t feel as stressed. 

 

Even the small decisions add up. Decisions that seem inconsequential —which wrapping paper to use, where to string lights, red sprinkles or green—can begin to accumulate and feel overwhelming. By eliminating as many of these details as possible, you will be reserving your strength for the more important elements like seeing people who are important to you and allowing yourself to heal as you grieve.

 

The people who love you most will understand and they will likely be relieved to know that you are sparing yourself the stress of shopping and wrapping. They will feel honoured that you trust them to understand.

 

3. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EMOTIONS

 

This holiday season needs to be about you and the others most affected by your loss. Remember—it is okay to cry. It is okay to not be as merry or joyful as others around you. Acknowledge to yourself how you are truly feeling at a given moment, and grant yourself the freedom to react to those feelings in whatever way you need. 

 

Crying is allowed, even at happy moments. You will not ruin the holidays for anyone else by shedding tears. Smiling and laughing are also allowed. You may feel moments of joy or happiness; enjoy those moments and savour them. You don't need to feel guilty for having happy or sad moments.

 

You might discover that there are certain times of the day or week that are particularly difficult for you. Allow yourself the freedom to take that time as personal grieving time, and let others know that those times are challenging for you. Your feelings will fluctuate, and that is expected. Acknowledging those feelings and allowing yourself to experience the range of emotions will assist you in your journey of healing.

 

4. ENLIST THE HELP OF OTHERS


Enlist the help of others, both for holiday-specific tasks, and just daily living tasks. Delegate anything you can—grocery shopping, cleaning, running errands, cooking, etc. Others may offer to help, but they don’t know what to do specifically.

 

It may also be helpful to let others know how you are feeling so that they don’t inadvertently pressure you. Let others know about your preferences. Family and friends will not know if you prefer to do holidays exactly as you previously did, or if you want everything to be different. Either option is perfectly fine, just let others know what is best for you this year.

 

5. HONOUR YOUR LOVED ONE

 

It's important that you acknowledge the loved one who has passed away in a way that is meaningful to you. There are countless ways to do this, and they can be as unique as you and your connection to your loved one. Select something that is meaningful to you.

 

For instance, incorporate parts of traditions that were meaningful to your loved one—favourite foods or music or decorations. Create new traditions that include elements of your loved one’s personality or values. Light special candles, hang a meaningful ornament, play an important song, watch a favourite movie.
 

If you’re ready, you might decide to look through photo albums, create a scrapbook, read/write letters, etc. Create something tangible in honour of your loved one—sew a quilt, paint, write poetry, carve wood, weld metal, blow glass, whatever your medium is you can create an expression of love.

 

Honouring your loved one may take many different forms and may change from year to year. The important part is that you and your family always know that your loved one was—and still is—a vital member of your family.

 

Grief is a journey. It is not a race. It cannot be fast-forwarded or skipped. Although you may be comforted in knowing that your loved one is in a better place, that does not take away your pain. Your grief demonstrates the love you had for that person, and the way you grieve will be unique—just like your relationship with that person was unique. Although the journey is difficult with many ups and downs, it is a healing process.

 

May you find peace and comfort this holiday season as you respect your own personal needs and honour the person you miss so dearly.

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Top 5 Reasons Families Need a Caregiver for Parents in LTC

 

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!

 

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Summer Vacations are Self-Care Days!

 

Vacation time! That time that you’ve been excited and waiting for all year. But when vacation time finally arrives you feel hesitant to leave because you are concerned about your elderly parents or your in-laws. This month on July 24th marks International Self-Care Day (ISD). Self-care is “any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health.” So, going on a summer holiday break counts as self-care!

 

 

It hardly counts as a vacation when you have your cell phone and your laptop at the beach in case of emergency. Family caregivers may be the most deserving of respite care but they are often the last ones to actually book time off and go on vacation. The mental break away from everyday stress and demand is desperately needed, but there never seems to be a good time to go on vacation.  

 

Good self-care is key to improved mood, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved relationships with others! What family caregivers really need is peace of mind. They need to feel reassured that their loved ones are in good hands and will be well cared for.

 

Here at Warm Embrace Elder Care, we’ve assisted many clients during an adult child’s holiday, and the client falls in love with the caregivers so much that the client is disappointed when the holiday is over! To think, families have delayed holidays and felt immense guilt over leaving for vacation, and yet their loved one benefits from the holiday as much as they do.

 

 

Vacation time doesn’t have to be associated with guilt. Instead, it can be an exciting opportunity for everyone involved—family receive the much-needed mental break of being on vacation, and elderly relatives enjoy a new friendly visitor, someone who hasn’t yet heard all the great stories!

 

If you or someone you know is over-due for a vacation due to concern about leaving elderly relatives, be reassured that there are options! For more information, call us at Warm Embrace Elder Care and we’d be happy to help. Everyone needs a break now and then.

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