Tips, Tools & Strategies Both Caregivers & Seniors Need To Survive and Thrive!
Throughout the month of October we’ve spent a lot of time talking about a wide variety of tools and strategies anyone can use to stay home longer and live life well. What we haven’t talked a lot about is the stress sometimes associated with staying home, both on the seniors who choose to do so and the family members who provide caregiver support. Whether formal or informal, supporting a loved one who is aging in place can become a burden for caregivers who are still working, managing children or their own health care concerns. That’s why today we’re focussing on just a few of the ways you can support yourself and a loved one to survive and thrive – all while maintaining your own sanity too!
No matter what your role in supporting aging parents, no doubt stress and anxiety are just two of the feelings you experience. Right now, something as simple as scheduling a doctor’s appointment, a visit to a lab for blood work or to the hospital for a scan or an x-ray is challenging. With Covid protocols still in place, restrictions on caregivers who can accompany an older adult and the need to work around your own demanding schedule, it’s a lot of work to take time off work to help a family member. Helping your loved one to manage their stress and anxiety about the process just adds to the pressure you might be feeling. Let’s talk about some of the tools you can utilize to help minimize the pressure!
Tips for Caregivers AND Seniors Too!
Many family physicians are conducting appointments online right now. Try taking advantage of these opportunities to minimize your time away from home or the office. If you do have to leave the house, consider making a checklist to always have on hand for ANY occasion – emergencies or regular office appointments – that includes all the medications you or your loved one are taking, along with current, correct dosages. It’ll make the process so much smoother overall, particularly when specialist appointments are necessary and they don’t know you as well as your family doctor does.
Whether you are a caregiver hoping to ensure a family member eats healthy, nutritious foods or an older adult who wants to eat well but can’t be bothered to cook, you have options! Groceries can be ordered online and delivered right to your door, almost always at no cost or with minimal fees. When you factor in your own time, energy and/or loss of income, a delivery charge becomes a “no-brainer!” There are also a variety of services that will deliver complete meal kits, eliminating the need to even think about groceries. If budget allows, consider utilizing this kind of service, perhaps even just once or twice a week to ensure balanced and healthy meals are a part of your lifestyle. These grocery food “box” programs are ideal for one or two people and we’ve heard from plenty of folks who often have enough for leftovers.
Community Support Services:
If budgets are tight there are also a number of community-based organizations that can help you to support a family member or that you can take advantage of yourself. Most communities have “Meals on Wheels” type programs that are ideal for a struggling senior, or someone who simply requires some short-term support as they recover from an accident, illness or surgical procedure. The same holds true for folks who need some physiotherapy or rehabilitation services. You don’t always need to leave the home to get what you need. For example, did you know there is now a program in many communities in Ontario that will allow you to source and pay for your own “in-home care therapy” and then claim those expenses back through your local health integration network? (LHIN, formerly CCAC.) Plenty of information is available with a simple Google search – check out what you might be eligible for in your community.
At Home Tools & Technology:
Some of these we’ve already shared but they bear repeating. Take some time to navigate your space (or as a caregiver, do this together with your loved one) whether you live in a dedicated retirement living space, a condo or you are still in the family home. What’s it like to move around? Are there tripping hazards such as wires, cables or area rugs? Is everything in the kitchen within easy reach and if not, make sure it is to eliminate any temptations to climb on a stool to access something too high. Consider investing in mobility aids that aren’t just related to walking but also for more practical things like a tool for reaching high items, an extra long shoe horn for help putting on shoes, a grab rail in the shower for extra security or perhaps even a toileting support system to help eliminate the chance of a fall. As for technology – it’s all there at the touch of a button with a “lifeline” type of alarm system; wearable technology that will connect you with emergency services if you need it. There’s also “Alexa” and “Google Home” and similar tools that will support you to age safely in place and/or give loved ones and caregivers peace of mind knowing that you can do anything from play your favourite radio station to summon emergency help.
Speaking of technology, Amintro is an asset no senior, older adult or even family caregiver should be without! We’re technology that’s easy to navigate, easy to enrol and to use and that’s dedicated to bringing people together in friendship! Amintro was created with the sole purpose of connecting like-minded seniors and those aged 50+ with people in their community. Whether you live across the hall in a retirement centre, down the street or across town, (or even farther away!) registered Amintro users are making friends with their fellow older adults, sharing hobbies, a love of sports, meeting for coffees or planning their next travel destination. Amintro is free and matches mature adults based on proximity, common interests or shared backgrounds. It’s a companion app with a focus on friendship that’s easy to use and virtually guaranteed to make life more enjoyable for you or your loved one. Talk about the “good, old days” with friends who share similar experiences. Get out for a coffee, a stroll through your local park or meet up for an exercise, yoga or swim session with an Amintro friend. Caregivers – share this information with your parents or even grandparents and let them know there is a whole world of potential beyond their doors OR that they can simply enjoy from the comfort of their own home. Encouraging family to connect with others might just help eliminate some of your day-to-day stress wondering if your loved one is safe, content and well cared for.
You can’t put a price on friendship – so we didn’t! Remember, Amintro is free. Humans are social creatures by nature, and we’re better when we are surrounded by friends and family. An active social life helps keep us all young at heart and may even reduce the number of visits to health care professionals or our reliance on technology tools like “Alexa” to keep us occupied! A little less stress for caregivers and a little more love for our loved ones! Use technology instead for when it’s really needed, like summoning help in an emergency OR better yet, for making new friends in your community. Amintro – where grown-ups come to make new friends.