Sunday, June 26, 2011

Elders: Support Seniors in Care Homes

This post will detail from personal experience what to be aware of when your parent or senior relative becomes a resident in a care home. I’m referring to subsidized facilities that I’m familiar with, which are overseen by the health authority in our district. These points were learned in the three and a half years that our relative has been in such a facility. Most of the points will apply to anyone, but the best place to start getting information is with the family doctor.

Visit often.

•  The connection with family is usually a factor in how well the resident accepts being in a care facility. Nearly all seniors will go through the denial phase. Independence is dear to all of us. They may beg to come home, or get surly and refuse to acknowledge you. Each person handles it differently. If Alzheimer’s or dementia is a factor, they won’t remember what you told them the day before.

•  Reinforce the senior’s memories by talking of things that interest them, update them on the family news, play cards, work on a puzzle in a smaller setting than the group activities of the care home, or just wheel them around the floor if the elder is in a wheelchair, walk with them if they’re still mobile. Doing something that’s not part of their daily routine is what makes the visit a little more special.

•  Be aware of other residents and learn who will try to talk you into releasing their seatbelts or pushing the correct elevator buttons so they can “escape”. Keyed or touch pad entry doors are in many newer care homes to prevent unauthorized excursions by residents.

Mix up the schedule of your visits

•  In any reputable care facility, this won’t make a difference, but dropping in unannounced is a good way to see what an ordinary day is like for a resident. Weekdays and weekends employ different staff ratios.

•  Be informed. Relatives can ask to be contacted if the resident has been ill, to be advised when in-house needs are required (like hip pads for fragile bones), and should inquire for a list of expenses if a patient’s trust fund is used for providing simple needs. Some care homes provide auxiliary services such as shoe fittings, wheelchair sizing, podiatry services, and haircutting via mobile contractors who come to the facility.

• Occasionally drop in for the meal times and offer to assist by feeding your parent. This enables you to observe how they handle the other patients and also to drop hints about your own parent. Sometimes that interaction results in better treatment from the staff, especially if the parent if hard of hearing or has poor vision. The care home staff need to know the specifics to understand why a resident may not hear an instruction, or answer a question.

Another Era by DGH

Get to know some of the health care staff at the seniors’ facility.

•  Our relative attended senior activities for a couple of days a week for several months before being assigned to that facility. As a result, the move wasn’t as traumatic as it could have been. The place was somewhat familiar, and the people managing the daily senior recreational programs were the same ones who planned activities for the residents.

•  Greet the health care staff on your visits. Find out which nurse is assigned to your relative; she can be a helpful contact at the facility. We also will greet those residents who are familiar to us, and who have talked to us as we helped feed our relative, or attended an event at the care home. Most residents respond in kind, but some may frown or rebuff your efforts.

•  If you know who to contact in case of any incidents or accidents which are not fully explained, you will save yourself time and trouble. It’s your right to have a full accounting by owner, coordinator or nurse when any incidents result in bruises, or injuries requiring x-rays. It’s always better to ask for facts first, before jumping to conclusions.

Attend events organized by the care home.

•  Family meetings dealing with particular issues, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, dementia or issues of health which affect all residents are held monthly or bimonthly. (e.g., flu shots for residents and visitors) Seasonal events will vary by facility, and may be dependant on staffing levels or volunteer help. The type and scope of events planned for residents is important, when a majority of residents are confined to wheelchairs.

•  Volunteers entertain the residents during the Christmas holiday season, and at other times throughout the year. Church services may be available for those wishing to attend on site with their relative. Residents are allowed some choice, but group activities are encouraged. This promotes the feeling of community.

Say thank you at Christmas.

If your budget allows, a group gift is always appreciated, or at the minimum send a personal card thanking the staff for their efforts throughout the year. By staff, I’m referring to the nurses, health care workers, and orderlies/attendants who help in the daily running of the facility.

The Fantasy Care Home on Moon Base
 Finally. . .

Keep yourself informed about the care facility in which your relative lives. That usually requires your physical presence, if you live close enough. Ask questions and keep your eyes open. Our relatives rely on us to support them.

Don’t assume. Be in the know.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Around the City-Vancouver: A Backyard Festival, Community Gardens & More

Vancouver, BC Cityscape from Stanley Park - DG Hudson


Festivals abound in the summertime in large and small cities, whether they focus on music, family activities, theatre, or unique happenings.  One unique neighborhood event I read about in the Vancouver Sun told of several homeowners staging an In The House Festival.  This happens in a heritage area of Victoria Drive, in Vancouver, British Columbia in an effort to increase community spirit and to offer family friendly activities.

Reference:  Article by L. Kane, Vancouver Sun, June 3/11
Details at:

GREEN THINGS:  Community Gardens
Interested in gardening but have no outside area?  Check out community gardens, a great way to grow some of your own food, herbs, or flowers.  Many cities have these communal gardens where plots are either assigned or work is shared, and the harvest allotted accordingly.  Vancouver and many of its surrounding municipalities encourage the residents to participate in this effort.
More information is available at the link below. 
City of Vancouver site

Monet's Garden in Giverny, France -'Green Heaven - DG Hudson

MOVIE RESEARCH:  Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

Everyone seems to be fascinated currently with the Jazz Age in Paris, when the city was the expatriate centre of culture.  I'm one of those who can't get enough of reading about that time period.  As a result, many books and movies are being made which focus on the attributes of the most loved and visited city in the world. 

This movie is currently playing in many cities.  I plan to see it since I've recently visited the City of Light, and just watching the trailer brought back my own memories of Paris, the Isle St. Louis, romantic bridges and the Rue de Rivoli.  It's a city that's hard to forget.

It's a movie about choices and facing reality.  Woody Allen has created a romantic fantasy about the meaning of a place, in particular, Paris.

Eiffel Tower, Paris - by DG Hudson 2010

The photo following was taken at a local parking lot.   Don't they say that dog owners and their pets start to look alike?  Is this what they mean?  See what happens when the dog is allowed to sit in the driver's lap?  Then, they want to drive. . .
(photo taken with Blackberry camera on the road)
Beware:  Dogs Who Drive - Mobile DGH
This post is a compilation of interesting events and things observed in my treks around the city and its surrounding area.  Do you know of any interesting events that show cities are trying to engage their residents to take more pride, and get to know who is in your neighborhood?  As shown in the Woody Allen movie, even if they are the musings of an aging director, some cities like Paris cast their spell on us.  Vancouver can do that, too.  How about your city?



Email received from C. Leamon, author of Writing up a Storm:

"We are so fortunate in BC as there is so much going on through the summer. In the Gulf Islands we have our Saturday market on Mayne Island, from ten until one every Saturday from May 21, or around then, to Thanksgiving. There are some talented artisans and you can also buy local produce. It's a great meeting place and community event.


Sounds like a great idea for a summer day-trip.