Home for Christmas: are your loved ones coping?

This holiday season, many of us will make long journeys to see or stay with aging parents and relatives in their own homes. Often these are houses and apartments we’ve known and visited for years, so we know what to expect.

Subtle changes

So, if you walk through the door this holiday season, if something isn’t quite as it was, you’ll notice. This isn’t about changing decor or home improvements, or the inevitable list of DIY/outside jobs all parents stack up for a visit by someone younger and fitter. (See, you are not alone!) This is about lifestyle and environmental changes.

  • Is the house as clean as Mom used to keep it?
  • Is there fresh food in the fridge?
  • Do Dad’s clothes look like they need a good wash?
  • Are there piles of clothes or papers on every surface?

All these may be indications that your parents or relatives might need some extra help with everyday life. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to gently look around, assess what your loved ones might need, and give them the gift of a home care visit. Once they’ve enjoyed someone helping them in their own home, your loved ones can see for themselves the difference it makes.

What to look for

It’s important to be realistic about what you are seeing, and to consider the root causes. In our previous article on this subject, founder Nicole listed six different areas to consider, and what to look for:

  • Home Environment
  • Kitchen
  • Changes in Personal Hygiene and Appearance
  • Cognitive Changes
  • Balance
  • Changes in Behavior
Mobility and lifestyle

As concerned children or relatives, we may be quick to jump to the ‘worst case scenario’; that food is out of date in the freezer or on the kitchen selves because they have been forgotten about, and therefore it’s about memory loss and impaired cognitive ability.

In fact, it may be due to a more straightforward issue, such as decreased mobility.

  • If seniors can’t reach up to a shelf anymore because of, say, a stiff shoulder, arthritis or balance, any tinned food on that shelf is inaccessible. It will just sit there and go out of date.
  • Equally, items may be laid down on easily accessible surfaces such as tables, chairs and furniture because bending down to the floor or putting it back in the cupboard is awkward.
  • Laundry may pile up because it is too heavy to lift a full load, and it has to be done in smaller batches, not because it’s been forgotten about.
  • Clothes may slip off hangers in wardrobes and be tricky to retrieve, so are simply not worn.
Homecare may be the solution

All of these issues can be easily resolved with home help on a regular basis, even for just a couple of hours a week. Our team are not just there fore personal care; they can help with cleaning, laundry, tidying up, putting away, and in the process, reducing slipping and trip hazards created not by neglect but through the home owners’ own physical limitations.

Mobility issue also apply to cooking and preparing food.

  • If limited mobility means they can’t reach into the bottom or the back of the freezer, they are not going to eat those tasty ready meals you kindly bought last time you visited.
  • If they can’t lift large bags of shopping anymore, they’ll shop in smaller batches so they can carry them more easily.
  • They may not want to stand at a stove for long periods of time making complicated dishes, and rely more on pre-prepared meals which take a lot less preparation time.
  • If they are living on their own, cooking may become one chore too many and they might skip meals. This reduces their nutritional intake and may result in weight loss and an unbalanced diet.

Again, this is where home care services can help. Our team here at Vytality at Home are more than happy to help with preparing meals. Most of our clients love this service, as it gives them a break from cooking and the washing up! Our caregivers can also help with ordering groceries, and making sure that what is delivered is put away such that it’s easy to reach and use. We also have trusted building and repairs trade Partners who can help adapt your loved one’s home to suit their changing needs, from installing grab bars and ramps to remodelling bathrooms and kitchen modifications.

Think mobility

So if you’re visiting loved ones this Christmas, keep your eyes open and think – mobility. If they are having difficulties with mobility and balance, check if they are receiving medical help. If not, make sure they visit their family physician as soon as possible to be checked out and receive the help and support that is available. The same applies if you are concerned about their behaviour or cognitive ability.

Independent living in your own home

Remember, decreasing mobility or less cognitive ability does not mean the end to independent living or living at home. Aging in Place is a government priority to help seniors live in their own homes for longer. As their own website says:

“Aging in place means having the health and social supports and services you need to live safely and independently in your home or your community for as long as you wish and are able.”

Homecare is a central pillar of Aging in Place planning. So perhaps the best gift you can give your senior relatives this Christmas is help taking those first steps towards an Aging in Place plan with Vytality at Home.

Call us at 403 476 3680 or a free, no obligation home consultation visit, where we can discuss your concerns and requirements, and discuss a home care plan tailor-made for your loved ones.

539, 5940 Macleod Trail SWCalgary, AB