How to Help Your Loved One Downsize

Downsizing a lifetime worth of belongings can be an extremely daunting task and for a lot of seniors it can be difficult emotionally as well as physically. Downsizing can happen for many reasons. For some, big family homes may feel too big to deal with all the upkeep now that most of the family has left and for others, an entirely new lifestyle in a smaller space may be desired, but sometimes seniors must downsize because they need to move to an assisted care facility and are unable to live in their homes on their own. No matter the situation, downsizing can be difficult because as people, we often become attached to our belongings and it can be hard to decide what will stay and what will go. As a friend or family member of the senior who is downsizing there are things you can do to help.

Time

One of the biggest things an individual can do to offer their friend or family member help in downsizing their belongings is to offer their time. Whether this time is spent helping to sort, organize or move belongings, this can provide a huge relief to your loved one. It can be hard for seniors to ask their families for help spending time with tasks like this because they don’t want to feel like they are burdening them, so if you know a loved one is looking to downsize, offer your time to come and help to go and sort through their belongings with them.

Support

Another way to help your loved one to downsize is to be there for them. Realizing that downsizing can be an emotionally trying situation, there is nothing more important than supporting your family member. For instance, helping your loved one to look at an item and decide whether it should stay or go can be extremely helpful. Since you don’t have emotional attachments to the belongings, you will be able to offer an unbiased opinion while still being able to stay sensitive to their emotions. Having someone in the room to be a trusted voice of reason can be one of the most helpful parts in downsizing.

Everything Else

Although finances can be an awkward discussion, its important that you make sure that your loved ones are in a good place financially. Downsizing can include the selling of big or antique furniture pieces, or realty costs including closing costs, legal costs, etc. Selling a home can be a large and stressful task. Offering to meet with realtors, or even gifting a cleaner to come in clean up the house to show it to prospective buyers are a few ways to assist in a financial way. You can also be there to help your loved ones to meet with potential movers or be there on moving day to ensure their belongings are being treated with care.

Although downsizing a home full of belongings and memories can be a difficult task, being there for your loved one emotionally and in person can make a world of difference to their downsizing experience.

 

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.

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.

Great Children’s Books to Teach and Help Develop Empathy and Acceptance

One of the most important things a child can learn is to empathize and to be accepting of others. Children often see things through a selfish lens because they haven’t yet learned the importance of different perspectives. Its vital for children to learn from an early age that despite our differences, living creatures all have emotions and can feel hurt by the actions of others. When children are exposed to the idea of acceptance and are taught to empathize with the struggles of others, they become more well-rounded adults who can co-exist more peacefully. Here are some books that explore themes of acceptance and empathy that you can read to or with your child to help them to learn a valuable lesson through story as opposed to a lecture.

Picture Books

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One is a story about colours and their differences and the number that comes along to teach them how to come together and count. This story teaches young readers about numbers and counting as well as primary and secondary colours, all the while also how to learn to accept each other’s differences.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This story is about a blue crayon that has been mistakenly labelled red. The blue crayon has an identity crisis when everything he tries to colour doesn’t look the way it should. Red, the blue crayon, must come to terms with his inner self despite what his outsides say. This story will teach children that labels aren’t important and that people aren’t always what they seem on the outside.

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches is a classic story by Dr. Seuss about two distinct kinds of Sneetches. The plain-bellied Sneetches and the star-bellied Sneetches and how this physical difference keeps them separated. This story discusses segregation and discrimination in a simple way that really gets the point across and will help children to realize that even if they don’t look like someone else, it doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. We can’t judge others based on physical differences.

Chapter Books

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This is a graphic novel/memoir detailing author Cece Bell’s younger years with severe hearing loss and the Phonic Ear that sets her apart from her classmates. At first, the hearing aid, which is bulky and awkward, prevents Cece from making new friends, but in this funny and truly beautiful graphic novel, Cece is able to learn to control the Phonic Ear and become her own superhero. This is a heartwarming tale that shows its readers that being different isn’t a bad thing.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Charlotte’s Web is a classic and well-beloved tale about a girl named Fern and the love she shares for a pig named Wilbur. This is a must read for all children because of Fern’s true compassion towards animals. Fern looks after Wilbur because he is the runt of his litter and saves him from an awful fate. This is a novel of friendship of a different kind that will teach children the intelligence of animals and that having compassion for all living beings is important.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

This is a book about a young boy with a facial difference that has prevented him from attending regular school. Starting in the 5th grade at a mainstream school, the protagonist, Auggie Pullman, just wants to be treated like a normal kid. Unfortunately, it seems that his classmates have a hard time looking past his facial difference to meet the real Auggie. This is a great book for middle grade kids that tackles feeling different, standing up to your bullies and the struggle of trying to find acceptance.

Each of these stories offer a unique perspective on the differences of those around us that will help your children to learn to find acceptance and be able to empathize with their peers. The younger children are able to learn these lessons, the more tolerant they will be as adults.

How to Find the Right Caregiver for your Elderly Loved Ones

A caregiver can be an extremely important person in the life of your parents and by extension an important person in your life. Caregivers can support your elderly loved ones in any number of tasks including meal preparation or medical support. This all depends upon the needs of your parent, the budget you have established for hiring a caregiver and the skill set your chosen caregiver possesses.

Qualifications/Credentials

The most important part in beginning the process of hiring a caregiver is to find someone qualified to look out your parent. The best option would be to have a personal referral from someone you trust; however, this is unlikely to happen and many times it is best to look at resumes. How many seniors has this caregiver worked with in the past? What tasks were they in charge of to ensure the safety and care of these seniors? How much time will this caregiver be able to dedicate to your parent? Does their experience reflect what your parent needs? All of these questions are important to answer when looking at candidates for this position.

Run a Background Check

One of the most important aspects in hiring a caregiver for your parent is to find out about your candidates past. When working with children or seniors, it’s important for you to request a police check and to call listed references. Past employers are a wealth of knowledge and will be able to give you an honest referral. When it comes to your loved ones, you want a caregiver who works hard and is empathetic and truly likes your parent. Talking to the people who have worked with candidates before will be the best indicator in knowing if a caregiver will be a good fit for your parent.

Responsibilities and Tasks

Does your parent need a part time caretaker? Do they need someone with a medical background to administer medication or someone to help with cleaning, meal preparation and transportation? These are questions that you need to consider when looking at hiring a caretaker. A candidates abilities have to match your loved ones needs for a caregiver/patient relationship to succeed.

Personal Connection

Even though a caregiver can look great on paper and come with excellent references, that doesn’t mean that they will be the right fit for your parent. Having a personal connection is important because this caregiver will be a support system for you and your loved one. Fostering a good relationship between a caregiver and your parent can really change your parent’s life for the better. This person will not only be caring for your parent, but will become their companion. If your parent and their caregiver get along, you will feel more assured in the safety and happiness of your loved one.

It is also important that you have a good relationship with your parent’s caregiver. This is the person you will be able to get in touch with to make sure that your loved one is getting the best possible care. If you hire a caregiver that you have a good personal connection with, it will be easy for you to keep in touch and get updates on your loved one’s well-being. This will keep your mind at ease and it will make for an open line of communication, which is vital when hiring a caregiver.

How BookJane Can Help You

Using BookJane is ultimately going to save you a lot of time in the process of finding a caregiver. All the caregivers you’ll find on the app have already been screened and interviewed to ensure that they are the best of the best in their chosen field. Their qualifications and experience are listed on their profiles, so you will have access to a more reader-friendly resume without all the extra information that might not be relevant. BookJane offers an extremely streamlined processed for all your caregiver hiring needs. BookJane profiles are also a lot more personal than reading a piece of paper with qualifications and experience listed. We want you to feel like you can get to know our caregivers before meeting them so you’ll feel comfortable leaving your parents in their hands.

What We Need to Know About the Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation is just that – a group of people sandwiched between two generations – stuck in the position of caregiver for both their children and their parents. This is a generation that is feeling the pressure to take care of everyone, but are having less help than they once did.

Many in this generation are finding the strain of being a caregiver for both their children and aging parents is causing stress, anxiety and even depression. All of this is due to a general lack of understanding and support. It’s important for everyone to realize who this generation is and how it’s possible that they will become a part of it. Here are some important details about the Sandwich Generation and the struggles they face:

It’s Growing

The amount of people considered a part of the Sandwich generation is increasing. This growth can be attributed in part to a higher mortality rate as well the rising average age before having children. The numbers make sense – we have much better medicine and care and frankly, people are living to an older age. This can put a strain on the children of seniors because they are looking after their loved ones a lot longer than they used to. Family sizes are now also a lot smaller and with less siblings around to shoulder the burden, it can fall to just one or two people who may not have the financial means or time to contribute to their parents well-being. This generation is also having children later in life than they used to which can be attributed to both our longer lifespans as well as post-secondary educations and careers. A single income used to provide for the whole family, but now, most families rely on double income in order to support themselves. All of this leads to a larger gap. The longer a person waits to have children, the older their parents get, which is leading to this overlap in supporting parents in old age and children in their growth.

It Effects Everyone

The problems facing the Sandwich Generation aren’t just effecting its own generation or their parents and children. These issues are also affecting the economy and businesses. Many members of the Sandwich Generation are feeling they have to leave the workforce to provide full time care for their loved ones. This is sometimes one of the best or only options available when considering the financial strain on this generation. If people are having to leave their jobs or consider career changes (to positions that require less time or commitment), businesses are losing highly skilled and qualified employees.

It’s a Financial Strain

A lot of parents would love to help their children with university costs, but also find themselves feeling fiscally responsible for their aging parents who may also require care. Millennials are already facing a turbulent job market right now and once leaving school a large amount are moving back in with their parents, unable to find work in their chosen field. These situations can put a large financial strain on a family who may already not have much extra money to be spending on extra expenses to begin with.

There is also the issue of pensions and retirements savings running out. With the raising levels of higher life expectancy for seniors over the last few years, it seems that seniors are running out of the money that they worked hard to save. This puts additional financial strain on their children who are still able to work, but who will now have to work a lot later into their life before retiring.

Available Transportation for Seniors

Starting in their 80th year, Ontario law requires seniors to renew their G license every two years. For a lot of seniors this causes issues, if they are deemed unable to drive, it becomes difficult for them to get to appointments, run errands, meet with friends or any other activity that requires them to leave the house. For a lot of seniors, losing their license is representative of losing their freedom and independence. It’s important for seniors to do their research and discover what other methods of transportation are available to them. This way they can continue to live their lives in almost the same manner as they are used to.

Friends/Family

It’s nice to be able to rely on friends and often times seniors are going places with their friends or family members. Carpooling is a great way to for seniors to get where they need to go. Although its not always possible to rely on friends and family members for transportation, its important to know that they are always an option in helping the seniors in their lives to get the places they need or want to go.

Public Transport/Shuttle Buses

Its important for seniors to do some research on their local transit systems. In big cities like Toronto, TTC is widely available with buses, streetcars and the subway covering the entire city. Transit systems like this make it very easy for travellers to get to their destinations. Most other smaller cities and towns also have some form of public transit available. For these smaller communities, it is unlikely that transit will allow seniors everywhere they need to go, but should allow them to get to most places. Public Transit companies usually also offer senior discounts, which are helpful to seniors with fixed salaries. For seniors living in assisted living facilities often have access to shuttle buses that are organized by the facility. These shuttles usually bring seniors to places where they can run all their errands.

Taxi’s/Uber

Even though taking taxi’s (or for tech savvy seniors taking an Uber) can be expensive, it’s important for seniors to have these options available to them. For instance, when grocery shopping, taking a taxi home is helpful because groceries can be heavy and trying to take them home on public transit would be difficult. Making sure seniors have access to taxi numbers (or the Uber app) can make a huge difference in their independence and ability to get to the places they want to be.

By Foot/Bicycle

If the location is close enough, it’s good to get a bit of exercise and either walk or bike to your desired destination. For certain errands, this option isn’t the most logical because the destinations are too far, or the errands require a lot of lifting or carrying. The best part about going places on foot or by bicycle, is that it doesn’t cost anything.

Although it can be hard for seniors when they lose their ability to drive themselves, they have many other options available to them to maintain their independence. Its important for them to do the research and find out what their options are.

 

 

How Dance Can Help Seniors to Avoid Dangerous Falls

Dance is often overlooked by many as a sport or as a means of legitimate exercise, but for many seniors it is the perfect way to strengthen the right muscles to help then with balance. Some of the most common injuries in seniors stem from serious falls. Recently Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto live streamed dance classes for elders living in rural areas to advocate this as a integral part of any seniors exercise regime. Dance requires focus and determination and works the parts of the body most important to the development of strength and safety for seniors. Preventing falls is one of the most important aspects of protecting the well being of seniors. A fall can dramatically decrease the quality of life for seniors, sometimes leading to a lack of independence, hospitalization or even chronic pain or issues. Although movement in general is good for seniors, dance can provide an all encompassing exercise that isn’t only good for them, but is also fun and something that can be done as a group activity.

Balance

 One of the largest benefits of dance classes is the general improvement of balance. Usually when seniors fall and injure themselves, the fall has stemmed from a lack of balance. Dance is a very disciplined exercise which includes different positions. For instance in ballet, there is first position (feet together with toes turned out), second position (feet shoulder width apart with toes turned out), etc. These positions along with the other movements that go along with them offer a good base for muscle memory. In a situation where a senior feels they are losing their balance, they’ll have learned these positions and may be able to prevent a fall by trusting this muscle memory.

Strength

Like any form of exercise, movement is important. In dance, strength is gained mostly in your core. This is because all movement in dance stems from the core. This is the perfect strength training for seniors looking to prevent falls because the body’s core is where balance is gained. A dance move that begins in first position will also finish in first position. For instance, if a dancer lifts their leg from first position, they will return it to the ground into that position. This works the core and teaches the body control.

Flexibility

 In general, dance is seen as an extremely flexible form of exercise. Dancers work muscles based on their own body weight and body movements. Often, dancers use stretching of their arms, legs and torsos to move their bodies into certain positions. These stretching movements will help to increase flexibility which in turn will help with overall movement capabilities. The more able a senior is with their movement, the less likely they are to fall.

 Confidence

 A big part of preventing falls and being safe in movements is confidence. Being confident will help seniors to feel in control of their bodies which is a large part of preventing falls. Practicing dance as a form of exercise will enable seniors to feel accomplished, strong and totally in control of their bodies. Like with any type of exercise, it’s important for seniors to not push themselves. Dancing in groups is more fun than it is as a solitary exercise and having an