You know your mother needs assistance, but she refuses to even consider it.  She insists that she doesn’t want to lose her independence. You’re frustrated because you’re trying to be proactive and prevent a crisis, but your mother won’t hear of it.

 

Be reassured!  You are not alone! 

 

Your mother is not the first senior to bristle at the notion of receiving help.  In fact, most of our homecare clients here at Warm Embrace started out exactly like your mother—Estelle sure did.  Estelle started out adamantly insisting that she didn’t need or want any help at all.

 

I can hardly blame Estelle for resisting help.  Very few people are quick to put up their hand and say “yes, I need help”—and that is true at any age.  Our North American culture places a high value on independence, and many people tend to define that as “doing everything myself.”

 

Estelle rejected homecare because she was afraid that if she can’t do it all herself, then she won’t be considered independent.  In her mind, that would mean being one step away from a dreaded nursing home.

 

We define independence differently. 

 

We believe that independence doesn’t mean that you do it all yourself; instead, independence means that you get to choose how everything is done.  Independence means that you’re the boss.  You make your own decisions.  It doesn’t mean you physically do everything; it means you have control in how it is done.

 

 

Homecare doesn’t take away a senior’s independence. In fact, it often does the opposite.  It often grants senior more independence. 

 

Estelle did not lose her independence, and that’s probably why she now adores her two favourite caregivers. Estelle did not lose anything; she gained. 

 

Estelle benefited from:

  • Gaining two new best friends
  • Enjoying stimulating conversation
  • Eating healthy meals and having more energy
  • Re-establishing her social connections because her caregivers can drive her to events
  • More physical activity by keeping up with her caregivers—instead of just sitting watching TV
  • Improved sleeping patterns since she’s no longer napping all day out of boredom

Your mother could benefit from homecare just as much as Estelle.  Your mother can go from just barely surviving to actually thrive.

 

What NOT to do

When you mention the idea of homecare or introducing a caregiver, don’t highlight what your mother can’t do.  Don’t point out all the activities she’s no longer managing, even though it may seem obvious and glaring to you.

 

Do NOT point out that:

  • She has lost her licence and no longer drives
  • The only healthy meals she eats are the leftovers you bring
  • She hasn’t been to a social event in six months
  • Her housekeeping standards are slipping

What to do

Highlight all of the gains your mother will benefit from when she has a wonderful new caregiver in her life. Point out how her life will be even better.

 

DO point out that:

  • She can now go anywhere she likes without worrying about calling a cab
  • She can go to social events and visit friends she hasn’t seen lately
  • Her caregiver will be a new friend with whom to play scrabble
  • She will enjoy having a visitor in the lonely winter months when she doesn’t usually get out
  • Even when you’re out of town, she’ll still have a consistent visitor
  • She will be the boss and SHE gets to decide what she does, together with her caregiver

When seniors see that they are not giving anything up, they are not losing anything, they are more receptive.  Seniors are often keen to accept new friends and live life more fully.

 

Help your mother to see all that she stands to gain, and the conversation may be easier.  We’ve helped countless families through the exact same struggle you’re experiencing, and we can make suggestions specific to your situation.  Call us for more ideas!

 

A senior benefits from homecare by suddenly eating better meals and that senior now has more energy to independently manage more tasks. Another senior might benefit from our accompanied transportation and now that senior can attend all the activities and functions she once enjoyed.  She is regaining her life back; she is not losing independence!

 

When seniors recognize what they can gain from homecare, they are more receptive.  They are gaining a new friend who will ensure that they enjoy each day and live it to the fullest. 

 

The good news is, we managed to win them over and now they are clients who absoultely adore their caregivers and can hardly imagine life without Warm Embrace.

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A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what does the photo selection on our walls say about us?  When you look around your home, what photos do you have prominently displayed?

 

Photos are one of the ways to personalize your living space, be reminded of your closest friends and family, or commemorate a favourite event.  What if the photos on your wall no longer triggered happy memories? What if you didn’t recognize the people or places in the photos on your walls? How would you feel?

 

If you didn’t recognize any of the photos, you might feel like you’re out of place, that it can’t possibly be your home.  You might feel disconnected, or perhaps even a little lost.  You might wish to go home, to a place that’s familiar and recognizable.

 

 

That is exactly how someone with advanced dementia can feel.  For some people with dementia, they will have a tough time recognizing photos of family members or even photos of themselves.  In the early stages of dementia, it can be helpful to have recent photos of grandchildren available so they are more recognizable when they visit, especially because they grow up and change so quickly.  But as someone’s dementia advances, keeping up with updated photos can be challenging.

 

For someone with advanced dementia, it can be quite abstract to look at a photo of a baby or a child and connect to that person as being your great-grandchild.  Having recent photos of the latest great-grandchildren may not provide an anchor-point for identity. It may just be a nice photo of a cute baby, but no greater connection than that. In fact, I’ve had clients with advanced dementia tell me that the cute baby photo—which is indeed their newest great-grandchild—is just the sample photo that came with the picture frame and since they liked the photo, they never changed it out!  

 

Photos of unrecognizable family members may be pretty photos, but if someone with advanced dementia does not realize it’s a family member, then the photo does not have much significance.  It does not signal “you are home” or “you belong here”.  It does not spark memories of happy times, it doesn’t connect to a sense of identity.

 

Instead, it can be helpful to understand what and who your loved one is thinking about most these days.  Oftentimes, people with advanced dementia are thinking and talking about times that they can more clearly remember and understand. Since long-term memory is stronger, people often revert back to childhood or young adulthood memories.  If that is the timeframe that is clearest, then provide photos to match the era that your loved one can remember.

 

If your loved one is talking about their parents, see if you can unearth an old photograph of their parents from decades ago—a photo of what their parents would have looked like when they were a child or teen.  If your loved one is talking about their siblings, find old photos of the siblings together as children. You may have a recent photo from the latest family reunion, but if your father is remembering his brother as an 8-year-old child, he may not be connecting with the photo of the 87-year-old man who is his brother today.

 

Many elderly women have strong memories of having children. Their strongest memories are of their children as babies, toddlers or young children.  Finding the old baby photos that might have adorned the walls over 60 years ago can be helpful. The photos will be familiar and will likely spark a smile and perhaps even some fond memories.

 

Another option, though much tougher to implement, is to adorn the walls with photos, pictures, or wall hangings that were in your loved one’s childhood home, or even their first home when they moved out.  Of course, many of those photos and prints may be long gone, but if you can find anything stashed away in the attic, it may be worth bringing them out to see what reaction you get.

 

For someone with advanced dementia, adjust their environment to match their internal reality. Have photos to match their strongest memories.  Select pieces that bring comfort or joy and spark a memory

 

Whether modifying someone's home or decorating their new living space in a retirement home or long term care centre, provide photos that spark a sense of pride and identity for your loved one.

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