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.

Canada’s Shortage of Personal Support Workers

It has become clear over the past few years that personal support workers are a dying breed. There are less and less care workers in an industry that is growing due to aging populations. The Baby Boomer Generation, which has the largest amount of people in any generation, is aging and are just starting to need Personal Support Workers. Over the next 20 years, as Baby Boomers retire and begin to need more support, the need for personal support workers is going to increase drastically.

This is a growing issue that needs to be solved sooner rather than later because already personal support workers are facing longer hours in what can be considered an extremely tough job. The job can be physically rigorous, but can also have an emotional toll as well. Personal support workers truly connect with their clients and watching them struggle or having to deal with sickness and health can be extremely difficult. It’s a hard job that receives little thanks, which is part of the reason that the amount of personal support workers available is decreasing.

More workers are leaving the industry than are being trained and qualified per year. This is a dangerous truth for our country because without the proper amount of workers in the industry, a lot of people will not receive the care they need and in the years to come it is only going to get worse. It seems that part of the reason this decrease in workers is occurring is in fact the nature of the job. It doesn’t offer a very high salary and requires long and hard hours. The people who become personal support workers do it because they want to help others and this is their passion. Unfortunately, a low paying salary will discourage many from entering a position despite their level of passion.

Personal support workers who work for institutions such as hospitals or nursing homes and generally have a more steady, balanced schedule. For home care workers, a much different schedule is necessary. Oftentimes these workers start in the very early morning and work until the late hours of the night. These home care workers will have multiple patients per day that they must try to administer medication, prepare meals, clean the house, etc. With the decrease of these personal support workers, hospitals and nursing homes will be more understaffed than they already are and many patients who require home care, won’t be able to receive it because home care workers will have too many clients already. The workers are being stretched too thin.

Although this shortage has increasingly negative connotations on our society and the care of our people, it is important that we brace ourselves and try to fix the issue before its way too late. Not only do personal support workers deserve higher wages, but support systems should be put into place for those interested in working in this field. Incentivising learning programs and trying to get the younger generation interested in this industry has become increasingly important. No person should ever feel that they or their loved ones are at risk of not receiving care and it should be one of our highest priorities as a country to ensure this never happens.