John’s father had a stroke a few years ago and now he can no longer take good care of himself. As the situation worsened, his father started to show signs of loss of bladder and bowel control.

Today, John’s father didn’t make it to the bathroom  again, which wasn’t a surprise, because everytime John did his father’s laundry, he finds, stains on his underwear. His father is aware of it and feels embarrassed, too. However, John knows that these infrequent accidents may only get worse in the future.

Fecal incontinence is common among seniors. For persons who are over 65 years old in the US, 17.3% have reported to having accidental bowel leakages of mucus, liquid stools or solid stools. So in today’s blog post, we are going to focus on helping our loved ones with fecal incontinence. If you are experiencing such an issue, just keep reading.

What is Fecal Incontinence and What Causes it?

Fecal incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements, which may result in stool leakage. It happens especially when a person is trying to expel gas, and the stoolpasses without control.

While diarrhea and gastroenteritis might cause  temporary fecal incontinence (FL), it can also be caused by some long-term illness or natural aging.

For seniors, FL can occur due to age related deterioration in the bowel’s muscles and neurons. Chronic constipation can also contribute to FL as well, since the stool “overflows” from the rectum if impacted.

Other Causes:

Some other causes, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, can cause one to lose bowel control. For some seniors, they can even have a bowel movement outside the bathroom, and in some cases, play with there feces, suggesting a connection to past events. See our blog post on “The Power of Telling Senior Stories for more details.

In addition, stress and fear that are caused by temporary changes in their environment can lead to FL in seniors. So, when a senior moves to a new long-term care home, they may be  more likely to be stressed and have bowel leakage.

Some seniors with physical disabilities would also have higher chance of FL. This is easy to understand since they have difficulties in reaching a toilet.

How to Take Care of Someone with Fecal Incontinence (FL)

  • Identify the Cause

We always stress on finding the caause before moving on to solve the problem. So before you “deal with the mess”, it is always helpful to find out the true reason behind your loved one’s FL – is it because thay are  experiencing an acute change of surroundings? Or has a certain medication caused your loved one to be unable to reach the bathroom when he or she in need?

Once you have found the root, you are safe to proceed to the next step.

  • Make Dietary Changes

Another way to prevent FL is by making some dietary adjustments.

If chronic constipraion is the underlying issue, fibre can play a significant role in decreasing symptoms. Increasing fluid intake can also ease constipation and prevent such accidents. 

  • Exercises

Particular exercises that are aimed at increasing anal sphincter function and strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor may be beneficial to control bowel movements. The most well-known exercise that tightens pelvic floor muscles would be “Kegel” exercises. If this is your first time hearing about it, here’s the instruction of how to complete a Kegel exercise.

Step One: Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscle

When you are urinating, stop it in midstream, and feel the muscles that are holding the urine – this is the pelvic floor muscle that you are going to train during the whole exercise. However, we don’t recommend holding your urine constantly as a way to exercise the muscle, as it will increase the risk of kidney infection.

Step Two: Make Sure Your Bladder Is Empty, And Find a Comfortable Position

Empty your bladder to prevent urine leakages during the exercise. Then, you can sit or lie down to find a position that’s comfortable for you.

Step Three: Tighten Your Pelvic Floor Muscles, And Hold For 5 Seconds.

Step Four: Relax The Muscle For 3 Seconds.

Step Five: Repeat 10 times, 3 Times a Day.

  • Bowel Training

Encourage regular toileting and reduce the likelihood of accidents. This, however, takes time to show results.

This is especially meaningful for people with physical disabilities. So set up a schedule that works for them to have a bowel movement, and stick to the schedule, so incidents of leakage and overflow can be prevented.

  • Increase Hygiene

Stools may cause skin irritation, so regular cleaning  and maintaining skin integrity is very important. If the person is using an absorbent product, change it regularly and constantly, so that it won’t cause further discomfort.

At the End:

Fecal incontinence may be embarrassing for both the senior and the family. If you think it causes too much work for you, it is always better to seek extra help such as hiring a caregiver to handle it.








Communication has never been more difficult. Jade finds that her mom’s hearing has become weaker and weaker over time. Sometimes when she tries to talk to her mom, her mom thinks Jade’s yelling for no reason. However, Jade’s mom refuses to wear hearing aids and whenever she doesn’t understand Jade, she acts like she can’t hear them at all.

Loss of hearing is a common phenomenon that occurs among seniors. The natural aging process will lead to a decrease in our senses, and this includes our hearing. However, there are a few factors that can expedite this process, such as medications, noisy environments, chronic fatigue, and emotions.

Hearing loss does not just make people “not listen” to you, but it also change their personality – eliciting anger, anxiety, social withdrawal, and even depression. When seniors feel stressed or annoyed, they may just act like they don’t hearing anything. So, when dealing with seniors with a hearing impairment, you need to have more patience, sensitivity, and understanding.

Today, we are going to provide you with some useful tips on how to communicate happily and smoothly with a loved one who has hearing loss. Let’s jump in!

What Is the Best Way to Communicate with a Hearing Impaired Loved One?

  • Find a Quiet Place or Reduce Background Noise

Your loved one may not know you are talking in a noisy environment, so when you are trying to raise your voice, there’s a very high chance that she or he thinks you are shouting and angry. So, make sure there is no music or television playing in the background.

Public places like restaurants with a lot of noise and crowds would make conversation difficult. Selecting locations with fewer background noises and less congested areas can greatly improve communication and reduce distractions.

  • Get Their Attention, and Face Them While Talking

Before speaking, you need to first get their attention. This can be accomplished by touching them on the arm or shoulder in a proper way, and not from behind.

Make sure you are making eye contact, and keep the light on your face. Sometimes, it is also helpful to say their names in a polite way; being respectful is always the key in a conversation.

  • Keep Tour Hands/Mask Away From Your Face While Talking

Same as maintaining adequate illumination on your face while talking, patients with hearing loss need to read your lips. So get rid of your mask or anything that would block your mouth and let your loved one “read” your words.

  • Speak Clearly and Loudly

As we mentioned in our previous blog post, “How To Communicate With Seniors, you need to speak clearly, and raise your voice if needed (but don’t scream). Do not speak too quickly or too slowly, and don’t use slang that elderly people may not understand.

  • Rephrase Your Question or Statement

When your loved one seems to not understand what you mean or not hear what you say, try rephrasing it in another way.

Sometimes your loved one may be confused about certain words, so simply repeating your statement isn’t helpful. Try shortening or simplifying your words and see their reaction.

  • Make Wse of Body Language and Visual Cues

Your posture and facial expression conveys emotion, while visual cues provide instruction. However, since facial expressions and nonverbal movements provide additional information, don’t exaggerate them, as they may be distracting.

You can also use aids to deliver your information, such as writing it down, or typing it on your phone and showing it to the person.

  • Ask Them How They Prefer to Communicate

Communication with seniors often requires cooperative efforts. So, it is never a bad idea to inquire about the other person’s preferred method of communication – if verbal isn’t the best for them, ask them if they would like to use any aid such as phones or sticky notes.

In the End

If you have tried many methods to communicate but the condition continues to worsen, it is better to do a hearing test. Specialists will offer potential solutions and techniques to help with hearing problems.







In the senior care space, we often rely on communication, connection, teamwork, collaboration. Together, we can change the narrative of long-term care, and help seniors age safely, comfortably, and happily at home.

We are proud to announce that Assisting Hands Home Care – Arlington Heights is launching a new pilot program with CareStory!

Check out their blog post here:

Assisting Hands Home Care is dedicated to delivering professional, personalized home care services while not only meeting the unique needs of each client, but also honoring WHO their clients ARE, and celebrating their life stories. Their services include Senior Care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care, Respite Care and Hospice Care. Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), in Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Mount Prospect, IL and the surrounding areas.

We are proud to be piloting with such a dynamic team and a company that truly puts passion into care.


Food has always been the main attraction at family reunions regardless of culture and race, and it is especially prominent in Jen’s family.

Today is the day that Jen picks up her mom from the nursing home, and welcomes her back home. Jen has put a lot of effort into preparing this family reunion dinner, and she had been studying recipes for the past few weeks, just to make sure her mom would be satisfied.

The dinner went well, except for the fact that Jen’s mom only ate a little and finished eating very soon after the dinner had started. Jen asked her mom if the food didn’t taste good, and her mom replied: “my taste buds arent as strong as before, not because of covid or anything else; my sense of taste has been getting weaker and weaker over the years.”

This is very normal among seniors. In fact, nearly 5% of seniors who are over 75 years old have  chronic issues with their sense of smell. Loss of smell and taste occurs when people enter their 60s, and some start as early as 40s.

What Causes Loss of Smell and Taste?

Loss of smell and taste can be attributed to many reasons. Certain medications that treat cardiovascular disease that contain beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, may cause lose of senses  in seniors. Also, other common causes such as aging, poor dental hygiene, nasal and sinus problems, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and smoking, etc. are all correlated to loss of smell and taste in elderly people.

Consequence of Loss of Smell and Tast

Our five senses are gifts from nature, and a disappearance of any one of them would lead to serious consequences.

  • Safety Issue

Our smell is linked to sections of the brain that process emotions and memories, and it may alert us to dangers such as gas leaks, fires, or rotting food. It can also trigger pain signals to be sent to our brain when we smell or taste anything unpleasant, as it could be a warning that something horrible is about to happen. For example, some polluted water may taste metallic. If seniors drink a glass of water without being aware of a metallic taste, the chemicals may put them at risk of metal accumulation in their bodies. Therefore, loss of smell could cause safety issues such as food poisoning and chemical poisoning.

  • Change in Dietary Habit

Flavour is a combination of taste and smell, so changes in the senses could also change someone’s food preferences and eating patterns. Seniors with a loss of taste would tend to “over-salt” their food, which is linked to high blood pressure. Also, a loss of interest in certain foods can cause malnutrition, which would cause substantial weight loss in seniors. So, if you notice your loved one skipping meals and slimming down, it is better to get checked out.

  • Decreased Quality of Life

Food brings happiness, and that’s why human beings are so enthusiastic about food. If an individual experiences loss of smell and taste, feasts are no longer appealing, and he or she may find it hard to reminisce by the smell of certain foods.

Smells have the power to evoke deep feelings and memories in humans. So, one’s quality of life might be severely hampered by the diminished or distorted perception of smell.

How to Help Your Loved One with Change in Sense of Smell & Taste

  • Get Checked

First and foremost, get checked by a doctor. You can book a nasal examination for your loved one to see if there’s inflammation or something else, such as  COVID-19. Sometimes it emerges from collective issues, and loss of smell is just a signal of more troubles down the road.

  • Encourage Him or Her to Eat

A loss of smell and taste would alter one’s appetite. In that, encouraging your loved one to savor foods becomes a vital topic here. Making social events and family gatherings is a good way to help seniors eat more food than usual. Also, you can try to use more herbs and spices that stimulate their appetite and increase food flavours without increasing blood pressure. Moreover, food is better served hot than cold in terms of its flavour. However, watch the temperature carefully so it won’t be too hot and burn your loved one’s tongue and throat – the best temperature served is about 150 F.

  • Follow Nutrition Guides

In our previous blog post, “Nutrition Guides for Seniors”, we have provided nutrition requirements and macronutrient charts for seniors. You can use the chart for planning for tasty meals for your loved one. Eating balanced meals is essential for seniors, no matter if they have lost their smell or not.

  • Label Foods with Dates Clearly

Since some seniors aren’t able to distinguish rotten or spoiled food by smell (as the look of food may not change much as they go bad), it is important to label fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and other foods with their purchase date, and best before date CLEARLY. Write the date in a bigger size so your loved one will notice.

  • Make Sure the Gas Detectors and Fire Alarms are Working

Again, guaranteeing your loved one’s safety at home is the primary thing we should focus on. In case he or she may be forgetful, or isn’t able to smell any “dangers”, you need to be proactive. Install and make sure gas detectors and fire alarms are in good working condition to greatly relieve your tension when you are away.






It’s just an ordinary morning. Jane wakes up and goes to the kitchen to get some water.

“Mom,” her daughter says, “umm, you kind of smell like old people.”

“Maybe it’s just because I haven’t brushed my teeth yet,” replied Jane.

Jane tried her best to be a good sport about it, but her daughter’s comment stayed with her for the rest of the day.

“What do old people smell like? And why do I smell like that – I’m only 55,” she thought. Obviously, this is something Jane wants to deal with right away.

“Old people smell”, as Jane’s daughter pur it, is actually very prevalent, and there’s a Japanese word that specifically describes it: Kareishu. The word has a negative meaning to it, mainly referring to a sweaty or unbathed smell. Not showering regularly may result in the smell, as it can with anyone of any age, however it is not the most prominent cause of changes in oder as we age.

Other Causes Of “Old People Smell”

  • Chemical Changes With Aging

You know the fresh and warm scent of a newborn baby? That goes away as we get older due to a chemical breakdown. The most popular hypothesis is changes in the chemical 2-nonenal. 2-nonenal may be responsible for causing older adults to have changes in odor.  When a person enters their 40s, 2-nonenal will present in the body and keep increasing as aging progresses.

As we become older, our skin produces more lipid acid, which is a type of fatty acid, and antioxidant protection in our skin decreases with age as well. In that, 2-nonenal is formed when fatty acid is oxidised, and is therefore what gives off that infamous “old people smell”.

However, scientists still haven’t confirmed how much of a role 2-nonenal plays in odor changes, as it might be a result from the interaction of the compound with skin secretions and bacteria.

  • Diseases

Some chronic diseases are also the source of changes in oder as we age. Diseases such as diabetes or uremia have a negative impact on skin function and can cause skin disorders. Also, skin problems like acne and eczema might exacerbate the issue. For example, diabetic dermopathy is caused by changes in small blood vessels, which could cause changes in skin maintainance.

Odor changes while aging is perfectly normal, but of course, we still want to smell fresh. There are several ways to manage changes in order as we age.

How To Manage Changes In Odor As We age

  • Engaging in a Heathy Lifestyle: Regular Exercise and Clean Eating

The best and most effective way is to change your lifestyle and quit bad habits. Make sure you are regularly exercising and eating clean. Eating clean means not eating too much fat, sugar, and sodium, given that these things would also alter our skin condition. Also, having enough rest and doing exercise can reduce our stress, which is huge ineliminating our unpleasant scents.

  • Quit Alcohol and Tobacco

Usually, when you walk past someone who drinks or smokes a lot, you will find that the smell of alcohol or tobacco has lingered on their body. This is because alcohol and tobacco leaves leaves residue on the skin whenever the person touches or consumes it. In addition, consuming alcohol or tobacco accelerates oxidation, which further increases “kareishu” in your body.

  • Drink Plenty of Water and Dilute Fatty Acids

Interestingly, dehydration can cause body odor. Drinking a lot of water can also dilute fatty acids in our body, along with increasingsaliva, which can help get rid of bacteria that causes unpleased odors

  • Green Tea May Help, Too

Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants, can help prevent bad breath, body odor, and stinky feet by neutralising free radicals.

Green tea helps the body rid itself of damaging pollutants by assisting in the secretion of glutathione, an antioxidant, so your body will smell much fresher.

  • Use Body Scrub – Fine Salt

Fatty acid on your skin is insoluble, so simply washing and rinsing with water isn’t so helpful to “wash out” the smell. However, using scrubs like fine salts can help remove the dirt and grease and make your skin much cleaner than just body wash alone. Also, scrubbing can offer feelings of relaxation, which in turn, helps to releave tension.

  • Air Out and Make Sure Living Areas Are Clean

Always keep your space clean! Sometime seniors’ rooms are warm and stuffy, which amplfies odors. Make sure to ventilate living spaces on a regular basis.

Also, make sure to do laundry on a regular basis. 2-nonenal transfers to your clothes and sheets from your skin. Using anti-stain and anti-grease laundry detergent helps to wash off the insoluble 2-nonenal.

At the End:

“Old People Smell” can be difficult to manage, even in those with good personal hygiene. However, don’t be scared of 2-nonenal. It is actually described as smelling like cucumber or old books – the greatest smell ever. And don’t stress about odor changes as you age; it is just a natural process.



Everyone knows Steve – the toughest and most obstinate man in the long-term care home. It is very difficult to convince him to do anything, which also includes welcoming his grandson’s dog, a three-year-old yellow lab.

“I hate dogs! They are annoying and dirty,” shouted Steve, speaking to his son on FaceTime. “Don’t ever bring that thing here…I won’t even let it in!”

Apparently, Steve’s grandson was even more uncompromising than his grandpa. He still brought the dog to the long-term care home, two weeks after the FaceTime call. His grandson gave: “The dog can’t be left in the house alone.”

The first greeting wasn’t so pleasant. Steve looked at the dog and angrily asked his son why he had brought him. However, the dog wasn’t aware of Steve’s disgust – he put his paw on Steve’s knee and wagged his tail happily, as if he were saying, “Hi Steve, it’s nice to meet you!”

After two hours of visiting, the family decided to go back. “Hey, why don’t you just leave the dog here since you will be in the city for a week,” requested Steve. “You said yourself that the dog can’t be left alone. I think I can take care of him.” 

It may have been surprising for a man like Steve to say that, but it did not surprise anyone that day. Everyone witnessed how happy and gentle Steve was when he was playing with the dog and how he made Steve another different person – a person that no one had ever seen.

“Maybe animals are magic,” joked Steve’s caregiver. “They can do the tricks that we can’t.”

This is true – our fluffy friends are amazing. They don’t speak (human languages), and they don’t buy you any gifts (small dead animals and sticks don’t count, of course). However, they have the power to sweep the haze away from your life and let the sunshine in – which is also a primary reason why so many institutions are using pet therapy to cope with people’s health problems.

What Is Pet Therapy?

Pet Therapy is a type of therapy that uses specially trained animals to offer affection and comfort to a community or a single individual. It is being used in a variety of organisations, including hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, and retirement and assisted living homes.

There are three different types of pet therapy: Facility Therapy, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and Therapeutic Visitation.

Facility Therapy refers to having the pets reside at the care home and trained to monitor dementia patients. At the same time, Assisted Therapy means a specific individual owns a trained pet in the assisted living community and receives a more intensive treatment.

Therapeutic Visitation, on the other hand, is the most common type of pet therapy out of the three. It refers to pet owners bringing their pet and visiting long-term, care homes, which allows  seniors to spend time with them and enjoy their companionship without having to take on the additional responsibility of caring for them all the time.

Why Do We Love Pet Therapy?

  • Encourages Social Engagement

It may be awkward if two strangers stand together, but if there is a pet sitting around them, the two individuals are more likely to interact with each other. Isn’t that amazing? In many cases, pets serve as excellent conversation starters. Residents can connect with each other and form new friendships when they spend time with animals.

  • Pet Therapy Has Many Physical Benefits

Did you feel amused when you scroll through TikTok and see pet videos? If yes, you’ve already benefited from “The Pet Effect”.

The term “The Pet Effect” refers to the miraculous healing powers of watching or interacting with pets. Spending time with dogs has been found in studies to lessen long-term care home residents’ pulse rates, as well as their stress and anxiety levels, as well as their heart rate and blood pressure.Some parents notice that their children who have depression will show alleviation in their symptoms when they have pets around, and it works for seniors, too. After all, these little animals don’t judge or give you any advice, and stay with you no matter what you do.

  • Senior isolation

If you have subscribed to our page, you must be familiar with the term “Senior Isolation”. Many seniors tend to have feelings of loneliness and isolation, either as a result of a lack of frequent visits from family and friends, a loss of a significant other, or a decreased level of physical activity.

Senior Isolation is difficult to tackle because so many seniors are “comfortable” in their unhealthy settings. So, for the reluctant elders, we can use our paw-friends to bring them out of their “shells”, and thus make them more open to new friendships. Feel free to check out our blog on “Senior Isolationwe have a lot of advice for you to help your loved one if he or she is experiencing loneliness.

Who Can be Our Paw-Friend?

Not all pets can be used in pet therapy, given the various personalities among the species and breeds. Normally speaking, old dogs and indoor cats are more suitable for companionship and providing comfort for seniors – they are quiet and understanding (yes, they are more sensitive to human’s needs when they get older).

There Are Limitations:

Just like many medications, pet therapy is not without its limitations. The more prominent concern of pet therapy would be safety. Many long-term care homes will ensure the animals are well-trained by doing behaviour checks. Cause, some pets may cause a threat to seniors’ safety if they are not properly trained.

Another issue is sanitation. Seniors tend to have compromised immune systems. Any unvaccinated or unwashed animals may cause allergies or infections among senior residents.






Charles hit 70 years old last week.

After his divorce, he took over the task of managing all the housework in the family. Just like other Californians, Charles likes to enjoy the sun and the little serendipities in his life. So, only three days after his birthday, Charles decided to move into a long-term care home to spend more time enjoying the idleness he deserves.

But here comes a problem: Charles wants to sell his house and use the money to cover his long-term care home expenses. However, his son is still living in his house with him. The cost of long-term care homes in California isn’t cheap, and it hurts Charles when he thinks about kicking his son out of the house as well.

Charles is in a conundrum that many seniors are.

Paying for long term care homes isn’t easy in the US. There are different types of long-term care homes. Here, we talk about nursing homes. According to the statistics from 2018, the average annual cost of a private room in a long-term care home across the US was $106,000. For some major cities, such as in San Francisco, the nursing home rate could reach $182,500 a year, and that’s why so many people choose to sell their property to live in a community.

However, selling houses isn’t the ultimate option to pay for a long-term care home There are, in fact, many benefits you should check out to relieve your financial burden.

How To Pay for A Long-Term Care Home in the US

Government Programs:

Just like in Canada, (Paying For LTC Homes In Canada) there are many government programs for senior citizens to use, and you probably already know of Medicare and Medicaid if you are living in the US.

However, there are some differences in range of what Medicare and Medicaid can cover:


Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage for people who are over 65 or under 65 and with a disability. Note that it only covers the expense of long term care that requires skilled services and rehabilitative care for 100 days, or a short period of time of receiving skilled home health and skilled in-home services.

Medicare works in the following situations:

  • Hospital deductible: the cost after you have paid a certain amount

  • Short stays in a nursing home to receive medical care that arose after a hospitalization

  • Hospice care

  • Outpatient care, doctor visits

  • Some medication costs


Medicaid, on the other hand, is a combined Federal and State program for low-income residents. It is only available to individuals who meet the requirements set forth by their state, and the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and the federal poverty line are used to determine financial eligibility for Medicaid.

Medicaid covers the cost of medical care and some long-term care. However, the range it covers may vary state to state, and in most cases, the coverage is very limited. As for California, the Medi-cal program can only cover 30 days of stays and medication in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF).

Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

While Medicaid can only cover a very limited amount of services and expenses, PACE can cover much more long-term care services (including medical and social services) for senior citizens, and it pays some or all of the long-term care expenses for the patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, PACE is active in 28 states. For more details, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/long-term-services-supports/pace/programs-all-inclusive-care-elderly-benefits/index.html

Other Programs

There are also many other benefit programs or institutions designed to serve a certain group of individuals. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides long-term care and at-home care for some veterans and their family. If you wish to know how to use different programs according to your situation, you can consult the National Council on Aging (NCOA). NCOA offers a free service called “BenefitsCheckUp” to screen your eligibility and find you a list of Federal and State benefit programs that can help you and your loved one.

Private Payment Options

If you don’t meet the eligibility to require financial aid from your state, and you wish to explore more options other than paying from your own savings, there are some ways you can try:

Long-Term Care Insurance

This type of insurance is purchased when you are younger. Long-term care insurance covers many long-term care services including palliative and hospice care. The cost depends on the amount of services, age and health condition. Thus, the earlier it is planned, the better it can serve.

Reverse Mortgages for Seniors

A reverse mortgage is a particular type of house loan that allows a homeowner who is over 62 years old to get a portion of their property’s equity in return, so they can use the returned amount to cover their long-term care home.

Reverse mortgages have no criteria for applicant’s income or health, only age (>62). Moreover, the loan amount is tax free and can be used for any expense. However, it’s only useful for a mortgage-free property. So if you already owe money on your house in the form of a mortgage or another type of debt, you must pay it off first to get the benefit.








We have gotten a message from one of our readers recently.

“My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was 70. He was only showing symptoms of  memory loss and agitation up until recently, but now, he has started wandering. I am currently working from home so I can be with him him during the day, however he mostly wanders at night. I tried to stop him, but he won’t listen. It’s as if there’s something he needed to complete. I am a single mom and have to take care of my son and my dad. We are Italian so family means everything to us, but my dad’s behavior has really been hard to handle. Can you give me some advice on how to prevent his wandering? Thank you.” -Mia

Mia is definitely not the only one we know that has such an issue – we see it almost every day. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 out of 10 patients with dementia show signs of wandering, or as we are going to put it, exploring, and some explorers are never found, or found dead because of accidents. In that, keeping your exploring loved one at home becomes so important at this point. However, it is always easier said than done. So, today CareStory is going to provide you with some very useful tips to keep your loved one safe and sound.

Before You Prepare, You Need to Figure These Things Out


Step One: Find Out The Reason Why They Explore

Before you start to plan for safety for your loved one, it is always helpful to find out the underlying reason for his or her exploring. There are many reasons for someone experiencing Dementia to explore, and according our experience, they can be categorized into the following:

  1. Basic Needs: Some seniors explore because they have necessary needs such as finding a bathroom, food, or simply looking for fresh air.

  2. Old Routine: In our previous blog post, “The Power of Telling Senior Stories”, we have spoken about a woman who used to wake up at night and check on residents in their rooms. It turned out that she was a night shift nurse for over 30 years and she was just doing her job. (Power of Storytelling)

  3. Fear: The surroundings may be triggering, or make them feel unsafe, so they try to find a “safe zone”.

  4. Boredom: Of course, people experiencing dementia feel bored, too. When they are looking for something to do, as you would, they start to explore their surroundings.

The underlying cause may vary from person to person, and situation to situaton. To help you determine what’s on your loved one’s mind and what or why their are exploring, , you can ask yourself the following:

  • Has your loved one always been this active? It’s possible that your loved one’s exploration is linked to a certain activity they used to engage in during the day.

  • Is your loved one having difficulty distinguishing between the past and the present when performing daily activities (eg. picking up the kids from school)?

  • Are your loved ones familiar with their current surroundings?

  • Are there any needs for your loved one that isn’t being provided? (eg. the need to feel loved and care for, the need to go to the toilet, the need for food or water, the need to manage pain, etc.)

  • Does your loved one look anxious, bored, or unsettled?

  • Is your loved one taking any new or different medications?

  • Has there been any recent change in your loved one’s living environment?

After all these questions are figured out, you will know the roots of their exploration. So instead of trying to put a stop to it,you can try to help them tackle their fear and anxiety, or provide them with what they need at the moment.

If the exploration continues, you can move on to the next step.

Step Two: Identify Patterns

Now is the time that you should take out a notebook and record your loved one’s patterns of exploration. Observe the time of day they start to explore, the duration of each, and the frequency they explore in a week or a month. You can also write down any negative effects caused by their exploration. Here’s an example of how you can take your notes:

  • Exploration occurs daily at 1:00am for one hour, resulting in an slight injury to left leg.

  • Exploration occurs twice a week, around 3:00pm, resulting in turning on the kitchen stove and walking away.

  • Explorationoccurs once a week, between 6:00pm to 8:00pm, resulting in the person being lost outside for at least one hour.

After you take your notes, you will have a better idea of what you should do to minimize any negative effects when they decide to explore.

How to Create a Safe Environment for an Explorer

If we can’t cure a disease, we find a way to live with it. This applies to Dementia as well specfically those who love to explore! In most cases, exploring will continue no matter what. So let’s discuss how we can create an environment for our loved ones with Dementia to explore safely:

Lock Doors When You Are At Home

Always keep the door locked when you are at home. You can also purchase alarm locks for the front door. They only cost $15-$20 on Amazon, and they can help you out a lot by notifying you if your loved one leaves the house.

Add Window Locks

To prevent your loved one from any potental injuries from the wondow, it’s best to add a lock or a screen that cannot be removed. 

Paint the Walls the Same Color for Continuity

It may sound novel, but painting the wall the same color or pattern to create a sense of continuity and can actually prevent the desire to explore when it may not be safe to do so.

Install a Door or Gate at the Top of a Stairway

It is especially useful if you have a basement in your house, or your loved one lives on the upper floor of the house, to install a door or gate at the top of the stairway. This prevents slips, falls, and injuries when walking downstairs in the dark or even if your loved one is sleepwalking. Note that the door should always swing away from the stairs, so if your loved one pushes the door too hard and it opens, it won’t let him or her fall because of the force. 

Install a Kitchen Door

Sometimes, your loved one feel  they may need to cook for the kids in the evening, and it is what we mentioned above – repeating an old routine. When your loved one with dementia wants to use the kitchen, you have to be aware of potential risks. For example, , they may use the oven, microwave and stove, but forget to turn them off after using it. Thus the best solution is to install a kitchen door and keeping it locked when you are not using it.

Hire a Caregiver to Take Care Your Loved One When You Are Not at Home

If you are a busy working person and always have your hands full, it is time to seek help from a professional. Some people who are experiencing dementia and love to explore  just want to find company, or find things to do to keep them less busy, so hiring a caregiver would greatly decrease your loved one’s loneliness and boredom. It gives you respite since you don’t have to worry about your loved one when you are away running errands. You may need to look for a home care agency if you have never hired any caregivers before. However, finding a responsible home care agency isn’t easy. See our blog on “Top 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Care Agency”. It will guide you on how to spot the “best match” for you and your loved one.


It took Shannon three months to convince her father to move into a long-term care home, but now she’s facing a new problem: paying for the long-term care home.

Shannon’s father doesn’t have a lot of savings, but she knows her father has pension and other benefits. However, she is not sure if these benefits could cover for a long-term care home, and the response from each community is different.

If you are in Shannon’s shoes, we’ve got your back. Today, we are going to have a thorough conversation on paying for a long-term care home in Canada.

Brace yourself: it’s going to be a lot of information.

How to Pay for a Long-Term Care Home in Canada

Government Pensions

Senior citizens’ most common benefits in Canada are Old Age Security (OAS) and Canada Pension Plan Benefits (CPP).

Old Age Security (OAS)

When a person residing in Canada reaches the age of 65, they are eligible for Old Age Security (OAS). There are three additional supplements to the OAS that allows the senior to gain more benefits:

  • The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS): Old Age Security (OAS) pension recipients eligible for the GIS receive a monthly non-taxable benefits; this is only available to people with a low income who reside in Canada.

  • The Allowance: OAS participants’ spouses and common-law partners can get an Allowance

  • Allowance for the Survivor: People with low incomes, reside in Canada, and have lost a spouse or common-law partner are eligible for Allowance for the Survivor.

Canada Pension Plan Benefits (CPP):

Another most used benefit would be the well-known “CPP”. As you may have started putting money in it since your first job. And now, it’s time to return.

A full CPP retirement pension is available at the age of 65, but you can apply for and get it as early as the age of 60 with a reduction, or wait untill as late as the age of 70 with an increase. All those who have contributed to this during the course of their working careers are entitled to a monthly benefit.

An additional benefit for those who have paid into the CPP system while receiving CPP benefits is the Post-Retirement Benefit (PRB). CPP Disability Pension and the CPP Survivor’s Pension are two other variants of CPP. So check your eligibility and “get the most of it.”

Workplace Pension Plan

Many people benefit from workplace pension plans that are privately administered by their employers. So, if your loved one’s employer offers a generous pension, you’re unlikely to have a problem paying for high-quality senior housing.


Investments means the home equity, savings, and other accounts that allows your loved one to use the money to pay for a long-term care home, rather than dipping into the their monthly benefits.

It also includes dividend stocks, mutual funds, index funds, bonds, Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC), etc. They do carry some risks alongside with the rewards, but as long as the market is “favorable”, they can also be used in later life planning. But before you or your loved one make any decision, don’t forget to seek out the advice from an experienced financial counsellor first.

Insurance Products

If your loved one keeps investing in financial products such as long term care insurance, then it is the time to use it during his or her retirement year.

If your loved one is diagnosed with a critical or chronic disease, and are no longer able to care for themselves, long-term care insurance will cover a fixed part of the expenses, tax free. In addition, long-term care insurance may also cover some personal care services, however, it depends on the policies of each home care agency, so consult with the administrator to see if your loved one could get reimbursed.

Personal Savings and Incomes:

If your loved ones have managed to have a lot of savings, or continue to work by choice, then the payment will become much simpler.

Personal savings do not just refer to the money in the account. Equity, Registered Retirement Saving Plans (RRSPs) and investments can also be considered as part of personal savings.

Another common method that many seniors would choose is renting out their primary home and using the rent payment to cover the long-term care home expense.

What If I Can’t Afford Long Term Care Homes?

It happens. The cost of living in a long-term care home could be huge, and not all families can afford the full payment. However, in Canada, there are several financial assistant programs for long-term care that can help seniors spend their later years in peace with fewer expenses.

Government Assistance

Financial Hardship Assistance is a government subsidized service for those who are experiencing significant financial hardship and in a long-term care home. Financial hardship means the client, the client’s spouse, or the client’s children can’t help to pay the following each month:

  • Food

  • Mortgage/Rent

  • Home Energy (Hydro)

  • Telecommunications (Phone Bills, Internet)

  • Prescribed Medication

  • Transportation

The amount that the program offers depends on assessment of the client’s income statement, and how much the family can afford.

Government-Subsidized Nursing Home

Although health insurance in Canada does not pay for nursing-home care, there are government-subsidized nursing homes that offer rates based on the senior’s income. It doesn’t mean that the government will pay the full cost of the nursing home; the residents would still be required to pay a portion of their “room and board”.

In the End:

Paying for a long-term care home does not necessarily mean you have to pay it in full from your pocket. Make sure you plan your finances well, and make the best use of benefits, insurance and tax credits – these will all make the transition go more smoothly.





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    Contact us

    Call us


    Visit us anytime

    294 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada

    Send us an email



    Sign up for Medicare newsletter to receive all the news offers and discounts.

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      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.

      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.