Should I Be a Caregiver for My Parent?

As our parents get older and it begins to become apparent that they may need more help in their everyday tasks, it can be a big question of whether or not it is up to us to provide this care? For some, it is not possible to become a parent’s caregiver because of work or childcare obligations, but for those that it is an option, it can become an extremely hard decision.

Some of the most important things to watch out for as a caregiver are hygiene, nutrition and social interaction. A lot of seniors are unable to drive, so being a caregiver can also require driving seniors to appointments or to various locations so that they are able to socialize, run errands or shop. Depending on the general health and abilities of your parent, being their caregiver can be a small task (helping them out here and there to do a few things that are more difficult for them) or it can be a full-time position (cooking all their meals, bathing and ensuring all of their medications are taken on time, etc).

Before becoming your parent’s caregiver, it is important to ask yourself some questions to see if you are prepared or able to take on the extra responsibilities that come with the tasks your individual parents need.

Am I financially prepared or able to take on the extra costs of caring for another person?

This can be a huge aspect of deciding whether to become your parent’s caregiver. If you find it hard to meet your current financial obligations, adding the cost of another person who will need extra medical attention might mean this isn’t a cost you can take on.

Am I able to take care of my elderly parent?

If you are uncomfortable or feel you are unable to perform any of the aspects of taking care of your elderly parent, it might be best to consider hiring in a caregiver or outside help. If this is the case, you can still be heavily involved in your parents care by being in contact with their caregiver. Even if you do feel able to perform the tasks your parents require, you do need to also consider the physical and mental toll that becoming your parent’s caregiver can take.

Will I be able to make time for the rest of my family?

If taking care of your parent becomes your fulltime responsibility so much so that you are unable to focus on the rest of your family, friends or other obligations, becoming a caregiver probably won’t work for you. Not only do you need to make time for your family and friends, but you also need to make time for yourself.

There are many resources available for caregivers and it is important that if you decide to take on becoming a caregiver for your parent to take advantage on these resources. It is also important to remember to ask for help if you feel that you need it. Friends, families and support groups can be a great place to talk through any issues you might be having and to find support for what you’re going through.

How to Plan for Senior Living

It is so important to start planning for retirement and living as a senior from an early age.  Oftentimes, government pension plans and assistance don’t cover the costs of the average senior and so they must rely on their personal savings, their families, or go back to working after being retired a few years.  Most seniors don’t want to feel dependent on their loved ones and they also don’t want to have to enter back into the workforce after having been retired, so it is important to plan ahead and have access to other savings put aside earlier in life to take care of yourself in your senior years.

As a society, we are living a lot longer than we once did which is a great thing because it means that we now have more life to live.  With modern science and healthcare, today’s seniors have a longer life expectancy than seniors even twenty years ago.  Unfortunately, many of today’s seniors didn’t expect to live as long as they are and are finding it financially a burden to try and live their daily lives. Seniors today are outliving their resources and it’s a challenge in our society that going forward needs to be addressed.

Mental and Physical Health

Although in Canada we have a great universal healthcare system, not every cost is covered. When planning for senior living, you must factor in the possibility of needing different medications, or other tools for everyday living.  These can include wheelchairs, hearing aids, walkers, etc. that all need upkeep.  Often in the past seniors have either underestimated their life spans or the resources that they have needed which then extends the burden of care to family members.

Where Will You Live?

One of the biggest costs and considerations when planning senior living is where you will live. A lot of seniors prefer to live in their homes, while some move into assisted care facilities.  In either situation, it is important to plan ahead and budget for the costs of these options.  Living at home has the same costs you’ve always had.  General upkeep of the house, property taxes, but the added cost of home care should be considered.  For many seniors, home care becomes necessary when they can either no longer drive themselves to appointments, or movement becomes more difficult throughout the house creating challenges with cooking and cleaning of the house.

For seniors that choose to live in assisted care facilities or senior homes, it can be a little easier to predict the costs of living.  At these facilities, seniors pay a set amount per month and have a combination of their accommodations, food and care included in the cost.  These facilities often include other amenities as well that can make senior living fun!

Although planning for senior living and ensuring you have a safety net of money set aside for your senior years is important, it is also important not to stress too much about money because the stress can cause other health issues.  Most seniors have great support systems in their families and including them in decisions can also be a big help. This way your family will know your wishes and be able to help you achieve them in your later years.

Seniors – Eating Safer and Smarter

Our bodies, metabolisms and taste buds are constantly changing and for seniors, nutritional needs and patterns are extremely important to watch and ensure that a healthy diet is being followed. Although a healthy diet is important for everyone despite age, seniors are more likely to have health problems, dietary restrictions based on a doctor’s recommendation, and changes in appetite.

Eating Patterns

Eating patterns and food preferences can change for seniors for several reasons. For some seniors, symptoms of depression can also coincide with changes in appetite. Depression is a common issue for seniors because sometimes seniors feel inadequate when they feel they need others to take care of them. If a person feels that they are unable to do things on their own, it can lead to a feeling of being useless. This is why depression can be so common with seniors. Depression is a known contributor to eating poorly, so its important to look out for signs and symptoms. Isolation can also be a contributor to poor dietary habits. Food and eating is often used as a tool for social interaction. For seniors who are feeling lonely or isolated, it can be hard to have a proper diet. Sometimes it can be easier to eat snacks or easy to make foods than to cook a properly balanced meal. This disinterest in cooking can also be a huge factor in an improper diet.

Medical Conditions/Medications

A lot of seniors have medical conditions and medications they need in order to keep these conditions under control. Common conditions can include high blood pressure, low circulation and high cholesterol. Many seniors are able to use their diets to improve these conditions or are required to have a specific diet based on the medications they are taking. It is important to know which nutritional requirements your medical condition or medication needs. Some medications, for instance, must be taken with food and others cannot be taken with food. Being aware of the requirements your medications/conditions can completely change the way you need to eat. Checking with your doctor or pharmacist or working with a nutritionist can be helpful to get to know what types of food you should be eating.

The Body

Eating smart and healthy options becomes extremely important in your senior years because the body starts changing and proper nutrition can prevent or help to slow down future health issues. After living for so many years, the immune system becomes less reliable and so proper nutrition to prevent sickness and keep your body strong is invaluable.

Your doctor will ultimately know what is best for you and your health.   It is important to listen to and implement any advice they may have. Food restrictions or foods that will largely positively effect your health are important for you and for anyone else who is preparing your meals. Although it is important for everyone to have good nutrition and make healthy nutrition choices, it can be even more integral for seniors so they are able to avoid other medical conditions and keep healthy.

The Importance of Senior Socialization

Senior isolation is a common problem for many because unfortunately, many seniors live alone. For many isolated seniors, socialization can be extremely daunting, but social relationships can have a positive impact of health during aging. Having a good attitude and lifestyle can make a world of difference throughout the aging process and being social will generally only make seniors feel happier and healthier.

Seniors Living at Home

For seniors living at home, socialization can be a daunting task. Those receiving care at home are in contact with others, but with time constraints on caregivers, these seniors may not be getting to spend as much time with their caregivers as they wish to. This means that these seniors will have to find other means of socialization. Socialization doesn’t have to be a planned activity with a large group of people. It can be as simple as meeting a friend for lunch or spending some quality time with your family members.

Another option for seniors living on their own is to join a club or class where they can not only interact with others, but possibly meet new friends to spend time with. There are many clubs and fitness classes targeted at seniors and these can be a great option to learn a new skill, get fit and meet new people. All these things have great health benefits for seniors who otherwise may have stayed at home on their own.

Volunteering your time to causes can also be a great way to not only socialize with others, but can also be a very healing experience. Looking into local causes and events that need volunteers can be a great way for seniors to interact with others, but also can be a rewarding experience to know that you have helped others.

Seniors in Assisted Living Facilities

Senior homes have a lot of programming availability for their residents, so it is generally easier to get out and meet other people in your community. Socializing can still sometimes be a challenge, but with your caregivers available to you and other seniors also living in the same vicinity as you, joining in activities will be a great way to ensure that you are engaging with others. Physical activities, like fitness classes are especially important because they can have other health benefits as well. Craft and hobby classes as well as excursions can also be great ways to meet other people, learn new skills and gain new experiences. All of this will be beneficial to your health.

Seniors who are out and socializing are happier and healthier because of their lifestyle. The importance of socialization is important to those of all ages, but because a lot of seniors live alone, it is very easy to become isolated. It is important for seniors, and their family members, to ensure that they are making the effort to spend time with others doing activities or even just spending time in the company of others. This time spent with others will ensure everyone’s happiness and health.

Talking to Your Parents About End-of-Life Issues

It is never easy to talk about death, or the challenges that come with end-of-life issues for family members. Although it can be hard to have these discussions, it is important to have them before the inevitable occurs. Death and end-of-life issues can be an easy topic for some families, but for most it can become an ominous and avoided conversation. Having these conversations, will, in the long term, actually benefit families who will either then know or be able to fulfil the wishes of aging parents and can help to prevent fights between siblings and other family members later.

Siblings

All siblings, along with their parents, should be a part of end of life issue discussions. In order to keep all children in the loop and also to ensure that the wishes of parents are honoured, the entire family should be aware of any end of life discussions or decisions made. One way to do this is to approach your siblings and have an open conversation about any information you have discussed with your parents. This way, you may find out some information that will give you peace of mind. If together, you realize that no one has any information, this discussion can be a good way to come up with a plan on how best to approach the topic with your parents.

A Will

Although some people make sure they have a will from a young age, it is important to ensure that your parents have spoken to a lawyer and created a legally binding will. Wills help to guarantee that a deceased person’s wishes are being honoured. There are non-threatening and non-invasive ways to bring this issue up. For instance, instead of asking your parents if they have a will outright, you can soften the question. Suggesting that you want to ensure that you are honouring their wishes if something were to happen to them is an effective way to suggest that writing up a will is a good idea. Verbal testaments don’t hold up in court and in order for your parents to have their wishes completely honoured is to have a written and verified will.

Power of Attorney

In many cases, appointing a power of attorney can save families a lot of strife. The power of attorney is a legal document that gives the authority to one person to act for another person in legal, business or financial matters. In some cases, it can come down to the power of attorney to make tough decisions about course of action regarding furthering or cutting off certain health treatments, but it can also be the person in charge of any other financial or legal matters. Again, instead of asking outright if your parent has a power of attorney, why not suggest that in an emergency you want someone designated to make tough decisions for you and it might be good for them to do the same. Without a power of attorney, any important life decisions will be made by a judge and may not best represent the wishes of the person unable to make the decision. It is important; however, to have discussions with your appointed power of attorney to ensure they know what you would want decided upon in any given emergency situation.

Ensuring Adequate Staffing During Summer Holidays in Senior Homes

Summer time is one of the most popular times of the year for vacations. Whether people are going out of the country, to a cottage or even just taking an extra long weekend at home, for most professions, summer is the time they find they have the least amount of staff. For some companies, its okay if a lot of people have staggered vacations and for some it is necessary to hire seasonal staff, but senior homes do have staffing requirements because the elderly they are charged with need help and support. It is important for senior homes to be adequately staffed for the entire summer because if they are not, the present workers will be overworked and will not have the opportunity to make sure that every senior is getting the full amount of support required.

Cover Vacation Time Early

Since it is common knowledge that many fulltime staff members take vacation time during the summer holidays, it is important for companies to anticipate for staff shortages. If notice is required for staff vacations, senior homes will have the time to look into alternative staffing to ensure that all residents have the full care that they require. Workers should schedule time off early to give administration the time to make sure all hours can be covered.

Hire Contract Workers

It is anticipated in most professions that during the summer holidays, regular fulltime staff is depleted. For senior homes, it is extremely important that a full staff is present because each staff member is required to do a certain amount of tasks per day which ensures that safety and care of a home’s residence. Hiring seasonal employees, instead of daily contract workers can help a senior home to function at its regular level by not disrupting the peace. Since care workers are so highly involved in the lives of the seniors living in their care, it is important that they have a connection with one another. These connections make for a better environment and allow workers and their patients to feel comfortable and happy.

Use BookJane Services

BookJane is a great source for care centres to book qualified support workers in advance or on short notice. If it looks like your senior home won’t have enough staff for any given period of time, by finding a local BookJane worker, your company can avoid a lot of stress and feel confident knowing that they are hiring a competent and skillful worker. BookJane employees have already been vetted and companies can feel safe and assured that they are hiring the best of the best. When covering staff shortages, BookJane is an especially great resource because of all the work of ensuring competency and talent. The BookJane app is user-friendly and very simple to use. With the click of a few buttons, senior homes will have access to great care workers that they care hire on demand. BookJane employees come with a full background check and are professional and reliable. Seniors homes in need can rest assured that their residents are in good hands.