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Summer is here, and it is all about getting active! Just like many other Canadians, Jim treasures every single bit of the sunshine and breeze.

It is a sunny and hot afternoon. After a few hours of walking in Stanley Park, Jim starts to feel very tired, so he finds a bench and plans to rest for a while. But after he sits down, he becomes a little dizzy, and his vision starts to blur. Jim’s scared since he came alone, and his bottled water has already been discarded along the way. Just when Jim thinks he might pass out, a group of bikers pass by, and they notice that Jim is not feeling well. They give Jim water and place a wet towel on his forehead.

It’s heat stroke.

Jim thanks the bikers and starts to consider if he’s really suitable for outdoor activities due to his age. It was quite a dangerous situation. Heat stroke is very common when people perform outdoor activities under high temperatures; children and seniors are especially prone to it. However, don’t fear summer just because of it – There are still many safe activities for seniors to experience. Today, we are going to provide some tips for you and your loved one to spend a fun, memorable summer togethrt.

Tips for Seniors to Have a Safe Summer

1. Be Aware of Heat Stress 

Heat stress, also as known as heat exhaustion, is a condition in which symptoms include excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes fainting. It occurs when the body becomes dehydrated and unable to cool down. So, the most important thing to do to prevent heat stress is to stay hydrated and always find shade when under the bright sun. When sitting in a car, it is important to make sure the window is open to allow sufficient airflow to come in and out. When you and your loved one are attending any large events, make sure to take a step away from the crowd once every 10-20min.

2. Avoid Sunburn

We love sunshine! In addition to the good mood it can bring, sunshine is also the best natural source of Vitamin D. However, overexposure to the sun could not only cause heat stress, as we just mentioned, but it also results in damage to our skin. When we age, our skin loses fat and water, which causes it to become thinner and more vulnerable. The symptoms of sunburn include itchiness, sensitivity, and irritation, which can possibly affect our whole body. In that, avoid going outside from 11 am to 2 pm, which is the period when the sun rays are most intensive. Don’t forget to bring a hat, and apply sunscreen when going outside. Note the sunscreen should be applied 20 min before going outdoors and reapplied every 2 hours.

Here’s a list of the best sunscreens that are gentle to the skin but strong in preventing sunburn. You can get them online or at any local drugstores:

  • Neutrogena Ultra Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 55:

  • La Roche Posay Anthelios Sunscreen:

  • EltaMD UV Lotion Broad-Spectrum SPF30+:

  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF50:

3. Keep Summer Bugs Away

We are not the only ones that enjoy the weather. There are plenty of species “booming” in the summer, too. Mosquitos, wasps, ticks, ants, yellow jackets … these little living creatures are not so friendly to humans. Not only can they ruin our mood, but some can also bring deceases to us. So stay away from stagnant water (which is paradise for summer bugs), and bring repelling herbs such as citronella, lavender, and lemongrass to dispel insects. There are citronella bracelets that you can bring with you when visiting parks and the seaside. It is also important to wear long sleeves and pants when going outside. When you are having a  barbeque or picnic, remember to keep the garbage bin sealed and clean up right away after eating.

Safe and Fun Summer Activities for Seniors

  • Go For a Walk in a Park

Doing some low-impact activities such as walking can strengthen bones and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Pick a nice park around your place and go for a walk. The scenery can help you reduce anxiety, boost your mood, and improve sleep quality.

  • Have a Picnic

Just grab some snacks, a cute blanket, and maybe a speaker and go to your favorite park. What’s more enjoyable than of lying down on the grass and watching the clouds with your friends.  Don’t forget to wear sunglasses and have your food covered when you are not consuming it!

  • Do Some Gardening

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, it doesn’t deprive your of the joy of creating beautiful scenery in your backyard or balcony. It is a very efficient way to exercise and elevate your mood. By planting beautiful flowers and vegetables, your self-esteem will improve, and your immune system will be boosted. It is extremely important in the aging process, especially for seniors who are experiencing the early stages of dementia. So get your hand dirty and have some fun “green time”!

  •  Go to a Farmer’s Market

Summer is always the best season to visit farmer’s markets. The seasonal fruits and veggies they provide are usually organic. Browsing foods can also stimulate your appetite for the hot summer.

  • Watch an Outdoor Movie

There are so many reasons why we love outdoor movies so much: they are cheap, they play classic movies, and you get to chat with your friends freely. Whether you sit in a car or sit on the grass, what outdoor movies can bring you is always more than just movies. Just remember to bring a blanket since outdoor movies always play after sunset, and it gets cold in the evening.

  • Go Fruit Picking

Another option to access fresh fruits and have fun is going fruit picking. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes so that you don’t fall. Here’s a general timeline for summer fruit picking. The exact time may differ according to your location:

  • Strawberries: May – June

  • Cherries: June – July

  • Blueberries and Blackberries: June – August

  • Peaches: July – September

  • Apples: August

  • Go Fishing

Fishing is also a good way to enjoy the outdoors. It isn’t just sitting and staring at the water; it requires body strength when the time comes for a catch. It is also a good way to socialize with others. Just think about it: fishing with friends by a tranquil lake on a beautiful day, isn’t it relaxing enough?

In the End:

There are a lot more outdoor summer activities that are suitable for seniors than what we provided, but always remember to stay cool and hydrated while performing any activity. If you are not so sure about a certain activity, check in with your doctor and find out if you can handle them. Safety is always the first priority!

References:

https://www.nursenextdoor.com/blog/10-summer-activities-for-seniors/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176441#symptoms

https://www.unicityhealthcare.com/senior-summer-activities-safe-and-effective-ways-to-keep-active-this-season/

 


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Chad’s mother died in a car crash 10 years ago. While destiny took her life away, it also took away Chad’s father’s love – he hasn’t  been able to fall in love with anyone else after losing his soulmate. As time goes by, Chad thinks it’s time for his father to find good company to spend his later life with. So, he encourages his father to attend dating events and use online dating sites.

The good news is that Chad’s father started to become more open to dating new people. However, he’s still very confused and cautious about talking to people online.

“Are dating sites legit?”

“What dating sites should I use?”

“How does online dating work?”

“What should I do and what should I avoid doing while dating online?”

If you or your loved one isn’t so familiar with Tinder, he or she must have a lot of questions about online dating. There are actually many senior-friendly dating sites on the internet. So today, we will give you a 101 guide on senior online dating.

Let’s get started.

Why Senior Dating?

Fun fact: 40% of men and women over 50 in the U.S. are single. Although finding love could be a long ways away, there are many benefits of dating and socializing that can serve a purpose on your journey. Having strong social relationships can greatly help seniors to reduce stress and help with heart health. It is also a very efficient way to defeat senior isolation  and increase longevity.

Dating when you are younger is fun, as you have more energy and expectations of future life. But dating when you are older means you have more freedom to choose someone that has a deep connection with you, as you don’t have the pressure of “racing against time” to settle down. If you think you don’t have many chances to meet new people in real life, online dating will open the door for you.

Although some people are be skeptical of online dating, the fact that online dating sites can serve abundant opportunities to meet new people is something to be discussed.

How Does Online Senior Dating Sites Work?

Outline Your Requirement

The steps of each dating site might differ, but the general process is similar to each other. You might be asked to fill out a questionnaire or take a personal test to narrow down your selection. The questions may include age, gender, distance, interest, education level, religious beliefs, etc.

Complete Your Profile

The next step is tobuild your own profile so you can be found easier. You can put your hobbies, occupation (past or present), and what you expect in a relationship in the description box. This will help find the people that are like-minded or looking for the same thing.

Get Ready To Match

Once your profile is completed and photos are uploaded, you are good to connect with potential matches! You may be stunned by how many people are out there and how popular you are to them. But before you dive into the ocean of possibilities, there are a few tips you should know.

Online Dating Tips for Seniors

  • Find Q Reliable Dating Site

The very first step of safe dating is to choose a reliable and reputable site. There are many dating sites out there, but not all of them are legit – actually, most sites are not well-regulated. But there are sites that are even worse, potentially hiring people to “catfish” (creating a fake accout with a false identity to trick you) and gain your trust, then ask you to make some sort of investment with the person you think is the one. This is one of the more common forms of elderly financial abuse, and you can totally avoid that by filtering it out in the first place. The best way is to do a lot of research online or ask your friends to recommend safe dating sites for you. If it seems like too much work for you, don’t worry, we have a list of top-rated dating sites at the end of this article.

  • Don’t Give Extra Personal Information

Staying cautious and safe through online dating is vital. NEVER give too much of your personal information to people that you haven’t met and/or built trust with yet. Your personal information includes your address, your financial information, information about your family members, etc. Being cautious and protecting youself isn’t something to be ashamed of; a good potential mate should understand.

  • Write A Detailed Profile

What do you do when you are seeking your dream job? Yes, you write a great resume. It works for online dating, too. Be sure to upload your best selfies and photos that can represent yourself well. Also fill out your interests, favorite movies/books, and of course, the activities you love to do. Your potential date will find you through your shared interests, and this is how the two of you will ignite a spark.

  • Be Open-Minded

Sticking to your own rules is good, but limiting your options can prevent you from meeting someone that could be a good match. Selectively discard the rules like, “If he or she doesn’t talk to me right away, her or she is not the one” or “If he or she doesn’t listen to jazz, then he or she will never be the right person for me.” Loosen up your standards a bit (but not completely), and have an open remind. Remember, opposites attraact! You may find people that you resonate with unexpectedly.

  • Meet In Public And Tell Your Family And Friends When Going On A Date

Be safe! Always make your first date happens in a public setting. Restaurants, museums, parks, and galleries are all good places to meet for a first date. So, if you find the person is not safe or makes you uncomfortable, you can always seek help from others, or make a smooth escape.

It is also important to inform your family or friends before you are going on a date. You can share your location with them and tell them exactly when the date starts and ends.

Top-Rated Senior Dating Sites

Silver Singles

Silver Singles has an extensive questionnaire (about 100 questions) to help you to narrow down your options. It is designed for people over 50 and has fraud detection to help you screen out potential scams. It also has a video chat feature so that you can get to know each other before meeting in person.

Price (in US dollars)

  •   3 months: $49.95/mo

  •   6 months: $37.95/mo

  • 12 months: $27.95/mo

OurTime

If you are looking for a well-established dating site, OurTime should be one on your list. It provides matching opportunities for local folks who are over 50 and organizes events in multiple cities for people to meet each other. The site is easy to use and it offers a free version for people who just like to browse.

Price (in US dollar):

  •     Basic: Free

  •     Standard: 6 months, $3.75/week

  •     Monthly: $7.49/week

eHarmony

eHarmony is the largest dating community online for all ages. The site is easy to use and can provide different levels of matches according to the user’s needs. The site is designed for heterosexual individuals so if you are LGBTQ+ it might not be the best for you.

Price (in US dollars)

  •     Premium light: 6 months, $65.90/mo

  •     Premium plus: 12 months, $45.90/mo

  •     Premium extra: 24 months, $35.90/mo

Takeaway:

No matter what site are you using, just make sure to stay safe and trust your guts – if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. At the same time, don’t forget to enjoy and have fun on your journey to meeting new people – who knows if the next person you meet is going to be your soulmate!

References:

https://www.mensjournal.com/style/best-dating-sites-for-seniors/

https://blog.silvercuisine.com/senior-dating/

 


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Jamie’s mother, Sylvie, has become more and more emotional, which is concerning to him because she wasn’t like that before. Today, Sylvie stormed into his room and yelled at him because the temperature in the living room was too cold. She told him that he did it on purpose to make her to move out. Speechless, Jamie wondered what has changed and how to deal with it.

It’s the middle of July. The hot weather swept across Atlanta, making people desperate for some cool air and an icy Coca-Cola. However, Mrs. Oliver wasn’t one of them. She rushed into her daughter, Ashley’s room, staring at her.

“I know your trick,” yelled Mrs.Oliver.

“You make the room so hot so that I am uncomfortable, and I will have to leave. You just want my money.”

“A wicked woman,” he added.

Ashley was both hurt and confused She had no idea what caused her mom to act out like this all of a sudden.

It is not uncommon that people become more hostile and irritable as they age. Seeing them lose their temper makes you suffer, too. Before we move on to talk about how to deal with your angry loved one, we always need to find out the root cause.

 What Cause Your Loved One to Act Out?

Dementia

In many cases, Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia can cause a person’s personality to change. Anxiety and depression over one’s deteriorating cognitive function may also lead to emotional outbursts. Furthermore, because of their desire for independence, it’s not hard to understand seniors with dementia can sometimes be hostile to others.

Medical Issues

Other than Dementia, some other underlying medical issues such as Urine Tract Infections (UTIs) and sleep disorders are also a direct cause of aggressive behaviours in seniors.

Medication Side Effects

Senior can fill up to 14-18 prescription drugs a year, on average. Certain drugs, including asthma inhalers and antidepressants, can cause agitation, impulsivity, and restlessness in seniors. Also, some prescription drugs may cause mood swings and agitation if they interact with each other.

Vision and Hearing Changes

Loss in senses can surely decrease a person’s quality of life. In our previous blog post, “How to Take Care of Your Loved One With Hearing Loss, we have explained how hearing loss can have an impact on one person’s behaviour and way of communication.

Psychological Concerns

Some mental issues such as depression and anxiety can also alter one’s behaviour and personality. This could be due to the loss of a spouse or changes in living environments. Some seniors may not be open to sharing their feelings, but instead, they choose to express it through behaviour.

4 Things to Do When Your Loved One In In Distress

Evaluate the Underlying Cause

After investigating the potential cause of your loved one’s behaviour, you probably already have a general idea of how to help. Is it because of a cognitive condition that continues to worsen? Or is your loved one’s physical health deteriorating? Make sure to confirmt the reason before finding strategies on how to deal the issue.

Ask, Not React

We have talked about this in our blog post, “How to Communicate with Seniors. Ask, instead of assume – it’s the first step in knowing your loved one and starting a healthy and helpful conversation. Remember to have a calm and gentle tone, and don’t use passive aggressiveness in your questions.

Be Gentle and Respectful

Being respectful is always the key in interactions. Be soft in your attitude and be careful of your words; make sure to let your loved one feel that he or she is being heard and loved. It works well for the seniors who have separation anxiety.

Allow Yourself to Take a Break

Dealing with a capricious individual can be quite exhausting. It’s important to let yourself have some time to relax and move away from the routine. it is also important to let other family members get involved in the caring process, or if there’s no one around, you can consider hiring a caregiver to help you.

References:

https://www.homecareassistancearlingtontx.com/why-is-my-older-loved-ones-behavior-changing/

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/elderly-temper-tantrums-156852.htm

 


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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.

 


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The day begins, busy as usual at nursing home.

Ann arrived at her office early to sort and organize her files that she’s going to need for the day. Suddenly, the phone rings, interrupting her work.

“Hey John, what’s going on?” Ann asked as she answered the phone. John is Ann’s brother, and he never calls her on weekday mornings, so she knew that something unusual must have happened.

“I just received a call from the nursing home,” replied John. “The staff told me that dad is going to be be evicted.”

“What? What for?” asked Ann, shocked.

“They said he always screams and is rude to the caregivers and other residents. He always says he wants to leave,” he explained

“Did you argue with them?” asked Ann, irritated. John, you know that’s the dementia talking. He can’t help it. What they’re doing is just so unfair and cold-blooded!”

Ann hung up the phone. She felt angry, confused and ashamed, all at the same time.

We know situations like this are awful, and it makes people angry, too. But it does happen. Today, we’ll discuss about becoming evicted from a long-term care home and what we can do to safeguard our loved ones if this happens.

Why Nursing Home Evicted Residents:

Normally speaking, a nursing home can’t evict a resident and there are regulations to prevent this from happening. However, if the reason for eviction falls under the exemptions to the law, their actions may be justified.

If the nursing home follows regulations carefully, their eviction will be legal. The common exemptions of eviction would be as follows.

  • Financial Issues

If the resident is not able to pay the bill, and his or her health benefits don’t apply in the nursing home, it could be the reason for eviction. However, there are always government funded assisted living homes that could help low-income seniors.

  • Behavioral Issues That Create Risks For Other’s Health and Safety

Although most nursing homes have developed senior behaviour management strategies, if the senior’s behaviour is hard to control and causes a threat to other residents and the staff, the home will have sufficient reason to ask the resident to leave.

  • Nursing Homes Can No Longer Meet the Medical Needs

If the resident needs more personal care and personal assistance, and these needs cannot be provided by the nursing home, the home will suggest his or her family to transfer the resident somewhere else that can assist them better.

  • The Home is Closing Down

It is obvious – if the nursing home is going out of business, no one is going to stay!

What Is There To Do When Facing Eviction?

  • Understand Your Loved One’s Situation

If the nursing home that your loved one resides in states that they can “no longer meet his or her needs”, ask them what excatly has made them come up with the decision, and explain what type of care your loved one actually needs. Is it because your loved one’s situation is too severe that the nursing home doesn’t carry enough resources to make their quality of life sustainable? Or do they think that your loved one has regained her or his health so nursing care is no longer needed? If so, what situation is your loved one is facing and what type of long-term care do they suggest you to consider?

The nursing home should have a justified reason to propose an eviction, so you can make better relocation choices according to your loved one’s health condition.

  • Find A New Home

Not all eviction is legal; some involuntary eviction is actually against laws that protects senior citizens. In that, you have rights to ask the nursing home to transfer your family somewhere else that can “meet their needs”. When transferring to another home, try to be honest about your loved one’s situation. We understand that occasionally families minimise their loved ones’ health conditions in order for the community to accept them, but this is not beneficial in the long term – you never want your loved one to transfer from one place to another on a regular basis.

  • Find  Home Care

Home care is quite a good alternative for families that love to keep their loved ones at home. If nursing homes make you upset, it is time to consider hiring a caregiver for your loved one and let him or her enjoy family vibes. In our blog post “In-Home Care vs. Nursing Homes: Which One is Better?”, we have summarized the pros and cons of each option, so feel free to check it out if you are undecided.

What If I Don’t Agree with Their Decision?

  • Assessing The Eviction: carefully assess written notice given 30-60 days in advance, a summary of reasons for eviction, and post-discharge plan (alternative care)

  • Appealing the Fischarge: to appeak, contact the local ombudsman, get a lawyer involved, or ask for legal aid.

In order to have voluntary eviction, the eviction notice should contain the following:

  •  Written notice given 30 days in advance

  • A summary of reasons for eviction

  • Post-discharge plan of alternative care

  • The full contact information of ombudsman program

If you are not satisfied with the eviction, you can always appeal an involuntary discharge notice, and it is your right to do it.

Internal appeals are available in some homes. However, if internal appeal does not fix your issue, or the home doesn’t have an internal appeal process, it is time to look for a local ombudsman and ask for their help – helping residents in assisted living communities and resolving problems with other senior living communities are their primary responsibilities.

A lawyer could also be useful in this situation. They can ensure that the home is not trying to skirt the law, and it is better to seek legal representation as soon as you get the result.

At the End:

Being kicked out of a long-term care home could definitely be stressful for the senior’s family, but there are ways to defend our loved one’s right of being a resident and protect them. Sometimes leaving is not necessarily a bad thing: You can still have lots of alternatives to choose from, and provide your loved one a happy, healthy lifestyle. Remember, always allow yourself and your family to breathe – take your time, don’t add pressure on your loved one, and get professional help if you need it.

References:

https://ncler.acl.gov/getattachment/Legal-Training/upcoming_event/Basics-NH-Evictions-Practice-Tip.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US

 


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True love can happen at any age.

Jay’s wife died 12 years ago, however they had separated many years before her death. Just when everyone thought Jay would “die alone”, he found “the one” just two weeks after moving into a long-term care home.

“Rose is a special woman,” gushed Jay to his family and friends. “I never really thought I could fall for someone after 50.” 

Actually, everyone knew Jay met someone before he started talking about her. He started buying flowers, paying much more attention to his looks, and always had a smile on his face. These are all telltale signs to indicate that someone is in love.

Doing all kinds of romantic things with Rose makes Jay feel young again; however, there is one topic that can’t be avoided, especially with elderly lovers: SEX. This has been bothering Jay for a while.

“We love cuddling naked and fondling one another, but I can’t stop thinking about how old I am,” continued Jay, shyly. 

“We have a couple age-related concerns when it comes to sex, but it is a little embarrassing mentioning it to others. An 80-year-old man wanting to have sex? It would make people’s jaws drop!”

It’s not uncommon that Jay possesses such a thought. Sex is a relatively sensitive topic itself. However, people more so tend to intentionally ignore the sexual needs of the elderly because it is uncomfortabl. This is why some seniors feel embarrassed to even put it on the table.

There are some beliefs about sex in seniors that are commonly held by society, and not all of them are true.

Common Beliefs of Sex in Old Age. What’s Wrong & What’s Right?

Wrong:

  • Sex Is For the Young

It is right that sexual functioning declines after middle age, but sex is never just for young people to enjoy. In fact, a study at Duke University has shown that 30% of married couples over 75 years old are still sexually active.

  • Old People Are Not Interested In Sex

Human sex interest can start as early as age 10 to 12, and last throughout life. In fact, according to statistics from the same study, 50% of 80-year-olds still have moderate libido.

 Right:

  • There Are Physical Restrictions

Changes in physical conditions after you age does limit your sex performance and safety. For women, a change in hormone level in old age will cause the vaginal walls to become thinner and drier, and thus more prone to viruses and bacteria. For men, erectile dysfunction is common in old age. Losing feelings in the genital area and a decrease in sex drive will happen when humans hit a certain age, and it is completely normal.

  • There Will Be Emotional Barriers

In men, the most common emotional barrier is worrying about sexual performance. While in women, the most common concern is body image and a fear of being unattractive to their partners. The effect of psychological barriers are still less than the impact of physical challenges, which will further decrease the chances of having a satisfying sex life.

However, having challenges doesn’t mean that good sex doesn’t exist after you enter old age. We at CareStory did our research, and found  some pointers to overcome these challenges, and help you to have a healthy sex after 60!

How To Overcome Challenges

  • Nutrition and Exercise

When it comes to intense feelings from sex, no matter if you are male or female, it’s all about blood flow. Some foods containing antioxidants, such as dark chocolate, can boost your blood circulation and give you stronger feelings of arousal. Also, exercising three times a week can greatly enhance your stamina and libido. So, stop being a couch potato! Step foot in a gym and get active!

  • Use Non-Penetrating Methods

Sex without intercourse can still be considered “good sex”. Skin on skin touching or doing full-body massages can also provide satisfying sensations. This especially works for women. Clitoral stimulation, for example, can help most women reach orgasm. Teasing and exploring each other’s bodies can also ignite the joys of sex.

  • Explore More Positions

Diseases such as arthritis causes pain and can make many sex positions uncomfortable. So, it is important to discover more positions with your partner that help to alleviate pain but also allow you to be active.

  • Speak To Health Care Providers (Family Doctor, Sex Therapists)

Some of your health care providers, such as your family doctor or a nurse, might not bring up the topic themselves. You need to prepare your concerns or questions and display them in from of them. It’s best to bring your partner with you on an appointment so that the health provider can determine what causes the issues and how to avoid them.

If they can’t provide useful suggestions, ask them to refer you to a family therapist or a sex therapist. there are always solutions to your problems.

  •  Communicate With Your Partner

Whether you are with your lifelong partner or a new partner, communication is always the key! You can talk about your concerns, desires, and boundaries with your partner and exchange ideas. Try not toset too many expectations and definitely don’t judge your partner. You can add a little humor to the conversation and make the whole process more comfortable and relaxing.

  • Build Confidence

Having wrinkles and knee problems might intimidate you from enjoying good sex, but who doesn’t get old in this world? You are more sexually experienced as you get older, and this is your privilege! So embrace your experience, discard your self-doubt, and don’t forget to encourage your partner to do the same!

Safe and Better Sex

  • Use a Condom and Lubricant

Lubrication is especially important for older women who suffer from vaginal dryness. Condoms also have lubricants. To make sex more enjoyable, simply use lubrication and condoms to enhance the experience. Also, condoms can reduce chances of contracting  STIs such as HIV, HPV, herpes, and trichomoniasis, which are more transmittable in seniors due to compromised immunity.

  • Foreplay

Lack of foreplay can make it harder for you to enjoy sex, which you have probably heard. So tease and kiss your partner’s body in a gentle way, and take it slow. Foreplay will relieve your tension and fatigue, and is specifically essential in female arousal.

  • Use Sex Toys

With or without a partner, a decent sex toy can do wonders for you to set the mood and experience maximum pleasure in sex. For the most part, some soft, lightweight, and ergonomic devices work well for the elderly. A vibrator or a massager will greatly increase your interest in sex, and help you to reach climax in an easier and safer way.

  • Use Your Month or Hands

Sex isn’t always about penetrative intercourse. Outercourse (sex without penetration), on the other hand, can elicit an orgasm even easier because of its lack of warmth, pressure, and wetness. In some cases, oral sex might be suitable for some seniors since it can add wetness to the whole process, but hand jobs can also give you and your partner strong sensations. Don’t be afraid to share what feels nice with your partner!

  • Sexual Positions

As we have said before, some physical or mobility issues will hamper you from having an enjoyable sexual experience. So, try sexual positions that can decrease stress on the knees and back. Here, we recommend missionary and spooning positions, which are less aggressive than many other positions.

  • Explore Erogenous Zones

As we grow older, our erogenous zones may change places. Let go of the assumptions about where you’re “supposed” to experience stimulation. Instead, try touching different spots to observe how you or your partner respond. Trust us, this could be a  new form of “body language” to communicate with your partner.

Although people in old age still has a sex drive, some seniors with dementia can be overly interested in sex, which is called “hypersexuality”. Seniors with cognitive impairment may demonstrate inappropriate sexual behavior and cause distress in both family members and caregivers. Here, CareStory has summarized some common inappropriate sexual behaviors you may see in seniors with dementia.

Sexual Expression and Dementia

  • Behaviors Expressed Publicly Without Regard For Others

Some seniors with dementia will masturbate or behave sexually in public since the change in brain function causes a lack of control of urges. Sometimes, it can also be attributed to tight clothing or the hot temperature of a room.

  • Misinterpreting Touches, Smiles, and Hugs as Sexual Invitations

Some intimate behavior can deliver the wrong messages to seniors with dementia since, again, the disease will change how the person understands other people’s behaviors and actions.

  • Sexual Acts With Someone Who’s Not Their Spouse.

It is usually hurtful for a spouse with dementia to see their loved one act like a stranger. But what’s even more frustrating is when their loved one behaves sexually toward caregivers or other residents around him or her. Note that this kind of behaviour does not reflect ttheir “true identity”. People with dementia will sometimes interpret sexual behavior as a way to communicate, so try not to be too upset about it.

Your Loved One Has Dementia and is Demonstrating Hypersexuality – Now What?

If your loved one has dementia and expresses the above inappropriate behavior, we, as their family, need to be responsible for it. So – how do we intervene?

  • Use a Calm and Firm Tone of Voice

People with dementia are sensitive to your tone, so stop them by using a calm voice without being judgemental or scolding. See our blog post on “How To Communicate With Seniors” for more details.

  • Call Their Preferred Names to Get Attention

Calling your loved one by their preferred name is a way to grab their attention, reminding them that they are not forgotten. Also, calling them by their preferred name gives them reassurance and thus calms them down. CareStory offers a function that records your loved one’s preferred name and shares it with caregivers.

  • Use Distractions

Just like calling their preferred name, a distraction in the form of other activities can provide your loved one with comfort and keep their hands busy. You can show your loved one family pictures or give him or her a stuffed animal for cuddling and petting. It will greatly relieve stress and satisfy their need for warmth.

  • Take Them to a Private Environment

When your loved one’s behavior seems “unstoppable”, remove them from the scene and provide privacy. Sometimes your loved one’s behavior indicates that they are in need of using the bathroom, so take them to a nearby washroom and see their reaction.

  • Eliminate Triggers

Magazines, TV shows, or other forms of entertainment may all contain visual triggers for your loved one’s ihypersexuality. Sometimes, intimate acts such as touching, hugging, or kissing also can be misunderstood. Make sure to be aware of your body language and have clear boundaries.

At The End

Sex should never be perceived as an embarrassing topic no matter what your age is. Be true to your needs and don’t be afraid to share your ideas with your partner – your sexual needs are an important part of your routine. However, as for those with physical restrictions, it is encouraged to find other ways to have safe sex and consult with professionals.

References:

https://alzheimer.ca/en/help-support/im-caring-person-living-dementia/understanding-symptoms/sexual-behaviour

https://www.greatseniorliving.com/articles/senior-sex


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“My dad lost his way home when he got back from the park, again,” Shawn complains to his friend,

“I have told him so often not to go outside alone, but he doesn’t listen.”

“Shawn, you should not blame him for that.” Replies his friend,

“Your dad has the right to go outside. It’s just that you can’t be with him all the time.”

That’s true. Like many middle-aged people, Shawn has his own family and is busy working most of the time. However, time never waits for anyone – now, his aged father needs him more than ever.

“Maybe it’s time to consider home care?” Shawn’s friend suggests, “My mom was in the same situation, so we hired a care worker for him. It does cost quite a bit, but it’s all worth it.”

Home care could be the silver lining to your situation if you are just as clueless as Shawn. Don’t worry. This article will guide you through what home care is and everything you want to know about the service.

What are home care services?

Home care service isn’t hiring someone to take care of your home. It is a kind of professional support that allows a senior to stay safely at home.

Many families hire a home care worker rather than send their parents to a long-term care facility. It is because:

Seniors can maintain their independence while living in familiar surroundings, with family members able to visit at any time. Some seniors and their families prefer to interact only with a caregiver who has been assigned to them.

There are different home care services: Personal care and companionship, nursing care, and home health care. Each serves a different purpose and is provided by caregivers with different qualifications. Now, let’s see what these care services are.

Personal care and companionship

Just as the name suggests, personal care and companionship support involve helping the senior with daily activity and supervision. In this type of home care, the care levels can range from weekly meal preparation to incontinence assistance.

Personal care aides can be hired privately or by agencies. Such home care service can meet many seniors’ needs, such as:

– Companionship

– Transportation

– Getting dressed, bathing, and grooming

– Meal preparation

– Basic housekeeping

Who provides it:

Personal Support Workers (PSW) are eligible to provide such support. The care can be provided by shift or full time based on clients’ needs. Personal care and companionship do not require a doctor’s prescription, but they require the worker to possess a PSW certificate.

The cost:

Personal care and companionship support are usually charged by the hour. According to the statistics of Ontario, the average cost of PSW is between $28 to $36 hourly. Usually, there will be a minimum hour requirement for each shift, either 3 or 4 hours per visit.

Depending on the agency, the cost would be mostly privately paid and rarely covered by long-term care and health insurance.

Who’s suitable for personal care and companionship

Seniors who have no severe medical concerns but need help with basic daily activities can consider personal care services. It also works for the seniors who often feel isolated, just like Shawn’s father. After all, meeting psychological needs are as important as meeting basic living needs for seniors. See our blog on “Senior Isolation” for more details.

Nursing care

Nursing care is also known as home-based skilled nursing or hourly nursing. This type of service is provided for those with more complex and ongoing medical demands but still prefer receiving care in the home setting.

Nursing care service includes specific medical care such as IV therapies

(administering shots), wound dressing, palliative care, pain management, etc.

Who provided it?

Nursing care is provided by Registered Nurses (RNs) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs); the nurse will use clinical criteria to create a nursing diagnosis list. Like personal support service, nursing care can be provided by shift or full time. However, it needs to be prescribed by a doctor since it involves medical practice.

The cost:

The cost of home-based nursing care is more expensive than personal support care. The average cost of nursing care in Ontario is $55 to $88 per hour, and again, it has minimum hours per visit, just like personal care.

You can choose to pay by yourself. Various sources such as health insurance and work benefit can also cover the cost. So, check the policy before hiring a nurse. It may save you some bucks.

Who’s suitable for nursing care

Persons who have specific long-term medical needs would be suitable for nursing care. The concerns include but are not limited to diabetes, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the need to administer medication, feeding tube care and ventilator care.

Home health care: 

Home health care is more physician-directed than the other home care services, which involve physical therapies, occupational therapies, medical social work and short-term nursing services. It is performed on a relatively short-term basis than the other two, and it can be stopped as soon as patients’ goals are met.

Who provides it?

Since home health care is more medical-centred, it can be provided by licensed professionals such as physical therapists, registered nurses, occupational therapists and so on, depending on the needs.

Home health care is usually provided hourly or by session. It also required a doctor’s prescription to receive specific therapy.

The cost:

The average price of home health care in Canada is around $125 per hour. In most cases, the cost can be covered by health insurance or private insurance.

Who’s suitable for home health care:

Home health care may benefit someone who has recently been wounded and requires rehabilitation. It is also appropriate for individuals who have recently been discharged from the hospital or are recovering from surgery. After their urgent medical needs have been met, patients may seek nursing care or home care.

Takeaway:

Home care services provided cares that can be divided into different types based on different needs. Personal support and nursing care are provided on an ongoing basis, while home health care is for those who have recent injuries and need short-term therapies. Hiring a caregiver could be stressful sometimes, but CareStory Home Care is here to provide the best service and give you relief. In our next few blogs, we will talk about the tips and things you should know in the recruiting process. Stay tuned!

 

References:

https://www.cbihealth.ca/services/nursing

https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/home-care-vs-home-health-care

https://www.bayada.com/homehealthcare/what-is-homecare/


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We start to learn how to make our parents “happy” when we are very young, but it becomes harder and harder when they move into old age.

“I used to buy my mother a lot of things to make up for the hours I couldn’t spend with her, but she wasn’t really thrilled and claimed it was a waste of money,” said Ann, a 40-year-old professional woman and her parents’ only child.

“Since the outbreak of the epidemic, I’ve been working from home. I was able to return and live with her for a short time. Everything was OK at first; we were enjoying the reunion feeling. But then she got dissatisfied once more.” Ann expressed her displeasure.

“She’s become so hard to predict, and I don’t know what could make her happy. I tried almost everything, but nothing seems to work.”

We receive a lot from our readers every day, such complaints as this– we know the pain.

First of all, you should stop trying to “please them” in the way that you feel they should be pleased because what you offer is not necessarily what they want. In addition, physically being with your loved one doesn’t mean you provide good mental support. Getting older isn’t easy to do. Changing relationships, shrinking social networks, and growing health issues make this process more challenging. As seniors’ lives progress, their inner worlds evolve, too. Therefore, it is time to bring their emotional needs into focus.

Recognize their needs

According to relationship psychologist Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S, everyone has their own set of emotional needs that they value the most. Still, as humans, we all have the same basic emotional needs. These basic emotional needs will ensure our relationship thrives, and our sense of self is secured, which includes being emotionally seen and feeling important in our relationships as a person. These needs are met through communication.

How long has it been since you sat down and had a nice long talk with your parents? Making them emotionally heard is the first step in the journey of empathy, and empathy is the key to providing good companionship.

A good conversation is always about giving and taking, but continuously giving would deplete each other’s willingness to keep the conversation going. Try to actively listen to your parents’ words without making quick judgments. Active listening entails listening with all of one’s senses. Maintaining eye contact, nodding your head, smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or ‘Mmm’ encourages them to continue.

Also, observe their non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, eye contact, gestures, and body movement as signals to add meaning to the conversation. If they avoid eye contact or constantly move their limbs, it means the conversation has created tension, and they might not be honest about how they are feeling. See our post on “How To Communicate With Seniors” to find out more details.

It is important to let your loved ones see that you listen and are sensitive to their needs. By providing ‘feedback’ and showing sensitivity, the speaking person will usually feel more at ease, allowing them to communicate more freely, openly, and honestly.

Talk about your feelings

As mentioned, the conversation doesn’t come unilaterally, How to Communicate with Seniors. When figuring out the best solution to provide your parents with good companionship, it is essential to talk about how you feel about them, the situation you are facing, and what you wish to improve in the relationship.

Tell them what you were thinking when doing things that you hoped would make them happy but didn’t work out. Let them know the hardship you are encountering, but don’t use victimized language that makes your parents feel they are doing the wrong things to you.

It is critical not to be passive-aggressive with your loved ones. You should not punish them for not knowing how you feel instinctively or for failing to read your mind.

Nobody can expect everyone to meet all of their needs. It takes time and effort to practice knowing your loved one’s needs and offer quality companionship. However, there are several things you can do with your elderly parents to spend time together and get to know them again.

List of things you can do to spend time with your loved one

1. Help them with cooking

Humans connect through food. Having them at the dinner table isn’t the only way to share happiness. Another one of the best ways to interact with our senior family members is to cook together. This not only allows you to bond, but it also encourages them to stay active and feel more involved in family activities. Rather than simply cooking for the elderly, incorporate them into the process to enrich their experience and make them feel important by helping. This is especially beneficial for seniors with dementia, as the process of cooking and meal planning can elevate their moods.

2. Go for a walk after diner

If the weather and your loved one’s physical condition allows, enjoy a peaceful evening by walking and talking with them. Walking boosts circulation after eating, thus increasing adrenaline and endorphin levels, which provide both you and your loved one a happy and energetic feeling throughout the conversation. You can talk about plans, happy memories, and new interests or hobbies during your walk, which reinforces positive emotions with physical activities.

3. Bring your kids to family gatherings

Many seniors love spending time with kids. Although you might think these two groups have little in common, research from the Atlantic shows that both children and the elderly see benefits from spending time together. Seniors generally have less depression, better physical health, and more satisfaction with life after having their grandkids visit. Some communities have preschools and daycares inside the nursing homes themselves.

4. Use nostalgia

Nostalgia might sound like a sentimental thing, but proper use of it can benefit seniors in many ways. This includes helping them deal with challenges from the past, letting go of unpleasant feelings, and gaining a more mature perspective on their current lives.

Memories can be sparked by seeing old photos, hearing old music, tasting old dishes, or even just smelling something familiar. Nostalgia jogs our memories of the good old times —the moments we may have taken for granted when they were happening.

Also, reminiscing helps to strike up a conversation or keeps a conversation going when it goes dry. Asking questions like “Do you remember when we…?” may help to draw closer to your loved one. Moreover, letting your loved ones pass on family stories would greatly enhance their emotional strength and confidence. Using CareStory to record and help your loved one recall sweet memories makes this process easier.

Good companionship can be achieved when you are away

1. Regular video/phone calls

If you live far away and cannot often visit, try to call them as much as you can. Your loved one wants to know what is going on in your life. It will give them reassurance and a sense of being involved. Our best advice is to call them once a day in terms of frequency. You can make a call during lunch or at the end of the day and ask them if they have eaten and what they did. It usually takes no more than 10 minutes, but it will make your loved one feel that they are not losing contact with you. It also helps you know about their daily living and emotional well-being at home or in a community.

2. Take advantage of festivals

Cultures and religions aren’t the only reasons why we celebrate festivals; people get a sense of belonging when celebrating them. Festivals allow the family to come together and celebrate a shared belief, which makes seniors feel valued. Work together with your parents to decorate the home, cook food, manufacture gifts, and more. It’s a great opportunity for you to spend quality time with them and give them a sense of pride.

3. Get them a pet

Getting a companion animal has an astounding effect on seniors. In addition to lowering blood pressure and promoting social connection and physical activity, animals have been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety. Depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness can also be dramatically reduced when people surround themselves with pets. However, some pets do require more work. Make sure you consider the physical condition of your loved one and ask their preferred animal.

4. Use companion services

If you and your other family members can’t make it to see your loved one regularly, we’re sure you still wish to know their progress and make sure they can manage their daily activities. You can use many companion services, such as drop-in companions and phone call services. Unlike nursing care, companion care focuses on giving emotional support and friendship and practical assistance with everyday tasks for the elderly. Older adults who want to age comfortably and independently in their own homes can use this type of care.

At the end:

Learning to be a good companion needs time, and building empathy is the premise. It is vital to make your loved ones feel heard, understood, and respected. There are many good ways to spend time with your parents and strengthen family bonds, but good companionship shouldn’t depend on whether you are close by or far away.

References: 

https://companionsforseniors.com/2019/10/what-is-companion-care-for-the-elderly/

https://www.comfortlife.ca/home-care/senior-companion-care

https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/10-best-ways-of-spending-time-with-family/


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“The wandering bands of storytelling Sapiens were the most important and most destructive force the animal kingdom had ever produced.” -Yuval Noah Harari.

Making a story for seniors is fun that brings people together and celebrates their lives. Hearing stories told by our parents and grandparents is just like collecting pearls: once you string them together, more surprises unfold. Then, you probably won’t wait to pass the delight to others, which is the beauty of storytelling.

What are senior stories, and why should we make one?

As the name suggests, senior stories could be a description of any major change or experience that a senior had in the past or something that encapsulates these experiences and summarizes their life into one story. It preserves memories and helps to define their personality. Here, we talk about a life story consisting of a set of events in a senior’s life. 

There are many benefits of senior storytelling:

Promote understanding and empathy

Successful storytelling can elicit emotional responses from the audience and create empathy. One example is an Alzheimer’s disease awareness film called “Takeaway,” which was aired on TV.

The scene begins with an older adult looking at the door, waiting for his son to come home. However, when his son comes back, the older adult doesn’t seem to want to open the door.

“Dad, open the door for me! I didn’t bring the key!” the young man knocks on the door and says.

The older adult suddenly panics.

  “I don’t know you!” He yells at the young man with fear, leaving his son completely shocked.

Then it follows with the narrative from the son.

The son says since his father’s memory began to worsen: “He always forgets where the fridge or the bathroom is. He doesn’t recognize his own house when he’s just in front of it. Sometimes he even doesn’t remember if he has had meals.”

The son takes his father out for lunch with his friends one day. When they were almost finished eating, the father saw two dumplings left on the plate. Then the older adult makes quickly grabs the dumplings with his hand and tucks them into his pockets, disregarding the other guests at the table.

“What are you doing, dad?!” the son, feeling embarrassed, grumbled to his father.

“These are for my son,” the father replies.

“I know he loves dumplings.”

The son is stunned by the father’s answer. Just as the name implies, the disease takes away most of the father’s memories and consciousness, but it doesn’t take away his love for his son.

This PSA was unquestionably a success. It won the “Film Lion” prize in the 60th Cannes Festival of Creativity and allowed many people to learn about Alzheimer’s for the first time.

Like the ads, a vivid story can touch the heart of the audience, making them understand and feel the hero or heroine in the story. So maybe next time, if you want your friends to understand why your loved one loves to collect “invaluable items” such as plastic bags or napkins, tell them the story of how they have been through a difficult time with material scarcity and believes collecting things will be useful in the future. This way, they will understand it and thus avoid some embarrassment of “missing toilet paper” in the washroom.

Help caregivers to deliver better care

Relationships are built upon “knowing” – without sufficiently knowing the person’s identity. It’s hard to have a connection with them. Another point of telling the story of our loved ones is to let the caregivers provide more effective assistance to the one you care for.

Here’s a real-life example that illustrates the idea:

A while ago, an older woman with cognitive impairment, living in a long-term care home, often got up in the middle of the night and walked down the hallways to check on sleeping residents. It was quite disturbing and creepy to both the residents and the staff, and it was hard to resolve since her behaviour seemed “unstoppable” to some degree.

But nothing is impossible to a willing heart. After countless times of trying to stop the behaviour, a caregiver decided to figure out the underlying reason. Starting from learning about her past experiences, the caregiver discovered that the woman was a night-shift nurse for over 30 years! It turned out that she was trying to “do her job”!

After that, everything has solved. Whenever the woman happened to repeat her nurse-on-duty behaviour again, the staff would tell her that her shift had ended and therefore could go back to sleep with relief.

What an amazing story! If the caregiver didn’t look into her past, they wouldn’t know how to help her to rest. Now you can use CareStory to store all your loved one’s experiences and access through a QR code. Quality care can happen in just one scan!

Strengthen family bonds

Although you and your parents and grandparents have lived together for years, it doesn’t mean you know them very well. When you hear stories about them from further back, you are drawn to your family even closer.

You may be surprised when you find out your strong grandfather also has a weak side inside of him, and your seemingly ordinary mother has done something spectacular in the past. Strong emotions are created when we share these experiences and memories as we feel we are more pulled towards them, which is how relationships are strengthened.

Promote well-being

While happy memories evoke warm feelings, which is good for mental health, sharing stories of enduring horrible crises or tragedies can also be beneficial.

These can reveal how the family member dealt with it and overcame the difficult time when handled correctly. These stories can be precious life lessons that teach you how to be strong throughout life. In addition, telling these stories also helps the senior to release stress when you are “experiencing” these memories together with them (research from Advances in Psychiatric Treatment). Re-experiencing these memories encourage the whole family to face the uncertainty of the future, which can further build resilience and confidence in both seniors and their families.

Not only does storytelling have a beneficial psychological influence, but it also has a positive physiological impact. According to research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2021, they have discovered that storytelling boosts oxytocin levels while lowering cortisol levels (a hormone generated in reaction to stress). Oxytocin is a hormone associated with human bonding and enhances feelings of love and empathy.

Although stories capture feelings and tighten bonds, techniques are still needed when gathering them and putting them into words. Here are some tips for creating and adding dimensions to your senior stories.

Tips of effective family storytelling:

1. Choose a central idea

A great story usually embodies a central message, even a life story. When crafting a senior story, you should have a clear idea of what you’re building toward. Consider who your audience would be. Are they the caregivers or your family friends? What is your purpose for creating this senior story? What tone do you use to interpret the person’s life events accurately? Think about these questions before choosing the type of stories to tell. Be clear on the “core” that you base your narrative on, and always stick to it.

2. Make a timeline for their major events

Ask the seniors about important moments they remember. You can write them down or record them through audio. After collecting these stories, highlight the ones that seem worthy to include and align with the story’s central idea. This process may take a lot of time and effort, but it is fundamental to building a coherent story. See our blog on “How to communicate with seniors” to make the process easier.

3. Be specific on what shapes your loved one’s identity

If your loved one is a fun person, focus on the funny moments that happened in their life; if the senior is a loving person, you can put more attention on describing the heartwarming senior stories that you could remember about them. It is okay to add some conflict to the story, but building a consistent identity is vital for the audience to empathize with the senior.

4. Gather memories from other family members

There are always some details we miss from the first-person perspective. Try to ask other family members about the important memories that they share with the seniors and get them involved in the process. It will add more “flesh” to the structure of your story.

5. Explore old photos and gadgets

Some seniors love to collect things such as photos or ornaments. They believe these little things hold their memories and have sentimental attachments to them. Try asking the senior the story behind these “collections.” It helps them bring back more memories and feel more engaged in the storytelling process.

Collecting stories can be the most taxing and rewarding process of generating senior stories. Here, CareStory has provided you with some sample questions you can ask your loved one to sparkle a story. 

List of questions to ask a senior to inspire a story:

Childhood

  • What was the occupation of your parents?

  • What’s one lesson your parents taught you?

  • What’re one or two stories that you remember the most clearly about your childhood?

  • What was your favourite time of day when you were a kid? Why?

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?

Adulthood

  • Describe your most important friendship.

  • What was your first job? How did you get it?

  • Do you have a significant other? How did you meet them?

  • What do you recall about your first date with your significant other?

  • What’s your greatest accomplishment in your life?

  • What were the most fulfilling times of your life?

  • Were there any difficult times you’d like to share? 

  • Where there any moments you recall as a turning point of your life?

  • What are you most grateful for in your life?

  • What’s the most significant thing you’ve done to help others?

Interests

  • What’s your favourite holiday memory?

  • What’s your favourite city/country? Why?

  • What’s your favourite food? 

  • What is the most amazing piece of technology to you?

  • What have you been doing for fun lately?

Other

  • If you could have one superpower, what do you wish it would be? Why?

  • What’s on your bucket list?

  • What are your goals for the next few years?

  • If you could have dinner with one person from past or present, who would it be? Why?

  • What would you say if you could talk to yourself 20/30/40 years ago?

  • If you could go back in time, what time would it be? Why?

At the end

Creating senior stories is not an easy process, yet it has many benefits to it. For the seniors who cannot create their own stories, the help from their families can bridge the gaps and encourage them to share these treasures. Many tools can help you build and share your stories, and CareStory is one of them. We are committed to letting every elder be heard. Feel free to check it out. 

 

References:

https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-nonfiction/telling-our-family-stories-4-reasons-why-its-more-important-than-ever-to-write-our-family-narratives

https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-nonfiction/telling-our-family-stories-4-reasons-why-its-more-important-than-ever-to-write-our-family-narratives

https://blog.aarp.org/parenting-part-2/here-is-why-you-should-share-family-stories


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“The only way that people are going to know I’m dead is from the smell in the hallway,” said David. David is 82 and has lived in a condo in Ottawa for 20 years now. His wife died many years ago, and his son lives in British Columbia, more than 4000 kilometres away. 

David only contacts his son through email once a week, and his best friend just died of cancer.

“Aging is a process of losing,” he said,

“You lose your health, career, and the people who used to be around you after a certain age. The only thing you gain is loneliness.”

There are billions of older adults living the same isolated life as David. Senior isolation is not a disease, but anyone who has it usually becomes voiceless and hopeless – all they do is wait to die alone.

What is senior isolation?

Senior isolation is a term that indicates social isolation in older adults. People of various ages can be affected by social isolation. And loneliness in the elderly causes more serious problems than in younger individuals.

According to a National Institute of Aging report, approximately 28 percent of people over 65 years old in the U.S. live in one-person households. However, someone is living alone doesn’t mean they are experiencing loneliness. There are a few factors that contribute to senior isolation, which includes:

– Bereavement of a significant other

– Retirement from work

– Loss of networks with friends

– Change in the living environment

– Mobility or sensory impairment

– Low income or limited financial resources

– Psychological or cognitive issues

– Language/racial/sexual orientation/gender identity barriers

– Lack of transportation or fear toward driving and travelling

Although the causation may differ from person to person, the negative effect of senior isolation could be almost the same for every family.

What is the impact?

The senior:

It starts with health effects. We all know that loneliness is never a pleasant experience for us humans. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) suggests that social isolation has proven adverse effects on seniors’ mental health, including anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline that’s highly related to Alzheimer’s disease. The study also shows that chronic isolation induces physical issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, and even causes premature death.

Besides the direct effects, isolation also causes seniors to remain trapped in the vicious cycle of elder abuse. People with poor social support are more prone to being emotionally and physically mistreated. As the abuse worsens, a senior who undergoes abuse will likely become even more socially isolated.

A study in 2017 suggests that seniors who endure abuse at the hands of a trusted helper may withdraw from socializing due to feelings of shame. Some seniors even 

Believe that abuse is common and even acceptable as time goes by. These circumstances keep the abuse victim mute, thus reinforcing the isolation-abuse cycle.

The family: 

Senior isolation has a detrimental effect on seniors’ families as well.

Elders who are socially isolated and have poor social networks tend to have low-quality relationships with those closest to them, including their family members and friends. This can be attributed to the weakened social skills and a lack of feeling safe caused by chronic isolation. Therefore, seniors living in isolation would make their families feel disconnected and increase their worries when they cannot be around.

In addition, senior isolation is a risk factor for stroke and dementia (report from Centers of Disease Control and Prevention), increasing the family’s burden of taking care of the seniors.

However, as a growing epidemic in modern society, it is impossible to spot someone’s loneliness. The persons going through loneliness may not even recognize it themselves. Here are some signs to look out for:

Signs of Senior Isolation

– Decreased energy

– Feeling foggy or unable to concentrate

– Having trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual

– Change in eating habits: overeating or loss of appetite

– Loss of interest in hobbies

– Loss of interest in socializing

– Increased shopping

– Declining cognitive abilities

– Interacting with/trusting suspicious people

If your loved one is experiencing all the symptoms above, you need to be alerted that chronic loneliness might develop in your family. However, it doesn’t mean that you are in a hopeless position. There are many ways to overcome senior isolation, and CareStory is here, providing you with some valuable tips to help.

If your loved one is experiencing isolation, you can:

Make regular visits or callsVisit your loved one as often as you can. If you live far away from them or are always on a tight schedule, try to make calls regularly. It is essential to make your family feel that they have not lost connection with you. Also, show interest in the topic they are talking about during the visit or the phone call. Making the person feel that they matter would greatly help them erode being left behind.

If you or a loved one struggle to make regular phone calls, try registering for free companion phone call services such as the “friendly calls program”. Volunteers in the program would provide supportive listening and social engagement, and help clients relieve anxiety, despair, and loneliness through phone calls.

1. Encourage social interaction

Don’t let your family deal with emotions on their own, especially when you and other family members are not around. Encourage your loved ones to make friends with their neighbours and the people they may have daily interactions with. Convince them to participate in group outings and actively engage in community events.

According to a study published by the National Institute on Aging, having an active social life improves one’s physical, mental, and emotional health, which is especially crucial for the elderly who suffer from loneliness and depression.

2. Make transportation easier

Many seniors don’t drive, so making transportation accessible is crucial. Choosing a long-term care home with adequate public transit nearby would encourage seniors to join the crowd and explore more outdoor activities. See our post on “How to Choose a Long-Term Care Home” for more details.

You can ask someone to share a ride with your loved one, but it is better to do it yourself. Offering your loved ones a chance to ride with you and assisting them in learning to use public transit will help them maintain a healthy sense of independence.

3. Notify friends and caregivers

If your family seems reluctant to make social connections actively, it is your job to contact the people who are frequently around them to pay more attention. Some seniors are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. To better assist, getting other people involved in their lives would reduce the sense of isolation. Ask the caregivers to chat with your loved one when they are doing housework, or call your friends to offer assistance with cleaning or cooking, so that they have more chances to “break the ice” and let the warmth in.

4. Get a therapy pet (if possible)

If your loved one lives alone at home, try adopting a pet and make it a good companion for your family. These fuzzy little things do have some therapeutic effects: studies show that pets can reduce seniors’ anxiety and blood pressure and encourage positive social behaviours (ontariospca.com). Moreover, taking care of a pet would make the senior feel rewarded and fulfilled.

If your loved one is living in a long-term care home, be clear on the policies of bringing a pet with the residents. For the homes that do not allow their residents to have pets, you can have your friends get their pets for a visit.

If you are the one who’s experiencing senior isolation, you can:

5. Get involved in the community

Staying active in the community gives individuals a sense of purpose. Many seniors benefit from active involvement with their community and meeting new people. If you live in a retirement community, you will find tons of socializing opportunities! For example, you can volunteer to help with gift wrapping during holiday seasons or perform in a local cultural festival. It’s a great way to get engaged and give yourself a sense of purpose. If you live at home, take advantage of joining a local senior center or any community of interest in the local area. Spending time with others can help fight feelings of isolation and depression to a great extent.

6. Be more physically active

If you can, get in more physical activity. Moving your body can assist to release endorphins, or “happy chemicals,” which can help to reduce stress and make you feel “refreshed.” When you’re alone, you may find it difficult to maintain the habit, so it’s time to join an exercise group!

Taking part in a group exercise class will make your workout more enjoyable and push you to keep going, in addition to lessening your isolation and stress. Exercises can also aid in the prevention of memory loss and cognitive deterioration. There is no need for heavy activities such as playing basketball or swimming. Light exercise like walking or even simple gardening may also make a great difference!

7. Explore interests

Hobbies are great for fighting against loneliness and keeping our minds active. “A watched pot never boils.” Rekindling your old interests or discovering new ones will make you feel the time passes faster than spending your day staring at a clock. Also, picking up a hobby can assist you in meeting new people. Try joining a club, a class, or a group and share common interests with others. You will even discover more hobbies thanks to the other club members. It’s also a fantastic method to keep your mind stimulated.

If you don’t know what hobby should you engage in, here are a few ideas to inspire you to start:

Writing

Tell your stories and share your memories with your families and friends. There are plenty of benefits to storytelling. Don’t believe us? Check out our blog on “The Power of Telling Senior Stories” for details on that. You can also keep a gratitude journal daily, which will help increase your happiness, promote better sleep, and make you focus on the bright side of life.

Fishing

Fishing is a calm and fascinating pastime that can keep you entertained for hours on end. It is much more than just staring at the water and waiting for fish to come. To catch some types of fish, you’ll need special tools. It sometimes even requires you to learn specific fishing techniques to catch a fish, which is challenging and filled with fun.

Painting

Healing and inspiring – this is the power of the arts. Painting gives you a chance to express yourself and discover the beauty of the things around you. It helps you to release your emotions and bolster memories. Furthermore, it requires hand-eye coordination, which will help to improve your mobility.

Birdwatching

Birdwatching isn’t just looking at a bird. Birds are beautiful creatures that connect you to nature. The art of birdwatching requires a keen eye and sufficient patience and knowledge. If you’re new to it, look for a bird reference guide to see which birds visit your region at certain times of the year. You can train your ear to recognize different bird calls and environmental noises. This is also a fun task.

Candlemaking

Candle-making can promote dexterity in hands and fingers and boost your self-esteem by giving you a sense of pride and fulfillment. The aroma of essential oils will calm and relax you, especially when manufacturing scented candles. Candles can also be given as gifts during the holidays or sold to supplement one’s income.

Dining with others

Stop taking your plate to your room and eating alone. Having meals with others will create bonds, and that’s why we always choose a restaurant as a dating spot. A shared dining table will provide you with chances for conversation and storytelling and allow you to eat more if you are experiencing a loss of appetite. Dining is a significant part of social interaction. In many senior centres, country clubs, health clubs, and long-term care home communities. It is recognized as one of the most important elements.

Takeaway:

Senior isolation is both a standard and dangerous situation that seniors face when living alone. It can be attributed to many external or internal reasons, and the harmful impact would profoundly affect the senior’s family. There are a variety of approaches to overcoming loneliness. Whether it’s about assisting others in overcoming loneliness or assisting yourself in dealing with your situation, staying active in social communities and developing interests is always the key.

 

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/chronic-loneliness#when-to-see-a-doctor

https://www.canada.ca/en/national-seniors-council/programs/publications-reports/2014/social-isolation-seniors/page05.html



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    Contact us


    Call us

    1-647-243-2981


    Visit us anytime

    294 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada


    Send us an email

    info@emersewell.com



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    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.