Adventures in Eldercare March 2018
This is a very busy time of year for a homecare company like Victoria Eldercare. The snowbirds are returning from Florida, Texas and Arizona. Snowbirds vary in age from about 60 to 75 and many of them have one or both living parents who could be 80 to 90 years old. One of the very first stops on returning home is often to check in on Mom or Dad. Many months have passed and it can be very evident if the elder senior is starting to fail with any of the activities of daily living (ADL).
One of the most common findings is rotten or rotting food in the fridge. This is a huge problem because of the risk of self-poisoning from food-borne bacteria but it also indicates that the seniors’ ability to manage this part of their life may be compromised. Are they aware of when they purchased the food, are they reading labels and expiry dates, and this also begs the question, “If this food is rotting in the fridge, what are they eating?” The answer is often, they are not eating, or least not eating fresh nutritious foods. A snowbird may come home to a situation where their parent has lost weight and energy and on further investigation realize they are eating nothing but toast with jam. This is a big one and often noticed quickly.
Another warning sign is personal hygiene. Regular bathing is not being performed, the hair may be matted and dirty, skin sores and rashes may be evident. Teeth or denture cleaning may be compromised as well. These types of discoveries are obvious and a plan must be put in place to help return to and maintain personal hygiene.
There are other subtler hints that the elder senior may need some assistance to stay at home safely and maintain their health. Regular activities that were enjoyed are now no longer evident. The puzzles or crosswords are not done, newspapers and mail are left unread and phone calls are not returned or answered. These observations require a knowledge of the usual activity of the senior. This is why a son or daughter returning after a long absence can be keenly aware that something is not right and once this awareness is made then action steps can be taken to intervene and help get the senior back on track. It can only take one or two deficits to force a senior from their home and into Long term care. To avoid this fate, it takes a concerted and co-operative effort from all involved. And that is often when my phone starts to ring off the hook. Snowbirds are part of a very active group of young seniors, they golf and bike and they love to travel. They also love their parent and want the best for them but moving in and doing regular shifts is not usually an option. This is where home care comes in to play. A reputable home care company will place a reliable and caring support worker into the home for a few hours each day to help with all of the activities of daily living allowing the senior to live comfortably and safely at home. Utilizing home care is a win/win, it allows both the older parent and the younger senior to enjoy a good quality of life.
As I mentioned in the title of this article this is the Home Care Season and I am needed at the front lines. I will be taking a break from writing my article over the spring and summer months. Adventures in Eldercare will return in September and we will carry on this conversation over the winter months. As well I am an active younger senior and I like to help out with a second family business we operate, Red Apple Rides, a bike tour company based in Port Dover. The leisurely Foodie tour, visiting many local landmarks and fine local restaurants and wineries is a local and tourist favourite. Although our Tour Operators are running the tour, I can often be seen at the rear of the pack acting as a second safety guide. Please enjoy your summer, stay safe and have fun, I will be back at the keyboard in September 2018.