Parents Caregiving For Parents: Support For The Sandwich Generation

parents caregiving for parents support for the sandwich generation

Are you a member of The Sandwich Generation? If so, you are probably working full time, taking care of aging parents, and still serving in the role of mom or dad to children who still live at home. That’s a tough order.  

To put it in perspective, the American Psychological Association (APA) has reported that women in the Sandwich Generation feel more stress than any other group due to their exponential caregiver expectations. 

Adults taking care of their children and aging parents often feel pulled in two different directions: 

  • Do you answer the call from your aging parent or do you relax and enjoy the rest of your child’s recital? 
  • Should you reschedule your own doctor’s appointment again to honor a specialist appointment for your parents? 
  • Is it okay to leave a mom or dad with early-stage Alzheimer’s home alone for an hour or two to get the errands run as quickly as possible? Or will that end up in disaster? 

If you aren’t careful, you can burn out quickly, which has a negative impact on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.  

The Sandwich Generation Needs All The Support It Can Get! 

Unfortunately, most caregivers prioritize everyone’s needs but their own, and this is the exact opposite of how it should be. When you aren’t healthy, happy, and taking care of yourself, you are simply not able to provide quality care to the ones you love.  

Don’t ever consider “taking care of yourself” to be a selfish act. It is a gift that keeps on giving to those who depend on you.  

So, in deep appreciation for all that you do to care for your parents and your children, we’ve compiled a list of ways to support yourself as a noble member of the Sandwich Generation. 

Implement a regular schedule of respite care 

Respite care means that you are free to take some hours, a day, or even multiple days off so you can honor your personal calendar appointments. At the very minimum, we recommend booking respite care once a week or, at the very least, once per month.  

If you have other family members or family friends interested in providing respite care, you can set up a SignUp Genius for free and have a regular rotation. Professional respite care is also available from licensed home care agencies in your area. 

Consider adult day care options 

Adult day care centers operate similarly to child day care centers. They provide a safe, fun, and interactive space for seniors to get together. Some even specialize in memory care, making them a safe place for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s.   

Read the AARP’s article, Adult Day Care: What Family Caregivers Need to Know, which provides a wonderful explanation of the service as well as how to find qualified adult day care options in your area. 

Join an in-person or online support group 

As this post goes to press, we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing ordinance. As a result, in-person support groups may not be an option for you. However, there are plenty of online support group options available. 

Our clients repeatedly comment on how much it has helped them to communicate with others who understand exactly what they’re going through. It makes you feel less alone. Plus, support groups give you the chance to get creative, expert, and “I’ve been there” ideas from people who are on the same journey as you. 

Click Here to view a long list of caregiver support groups to find one near you, including support groups for the LGBTQ caregiving community, or to join an online group. Professional therapists can also be a wonderful resource, helping you to manage stress and cultivate self-care tools as you navigate the hurdles along the caregiving way. 

If you’re part of the sandwich generation make time for the basic tenets of a healthy, active lifestyle 

Skipping meals, substituting healthy food for quick-and-dirty snacks, and putting off your daily exercise plan is the absolute worst thing you can do to support yourself. And, the same is true for your children and your parent(s). 

Here are some ideas our clients use to honor their health in addition to their caregiving duties: 

  • Have mom/dad over for a weekend afternoon and spend time making multiple, easy-to-store, and reheat meals for the week. Some can go home with your parent(s) and the rest remain in your fridge for easy dinners. 
  • Don’t have time to make food? Meal delivery services abound, so take advantage of them. You can have takeout delivered from your favorite restaurants via DoorDash or from meal boxes, like HelloFresh or Blue Apron
  • Exercise together using any one of a number of YouTube videos from famous instructors. Your parent(s) can do senior-centric exercises such as chair yoga or exercises with the walker, while you search for exercise programs designed for your interest and abilities. 
  • Take time each day to get outside and take a walk, look at the sky or the trees, spend some time in the garden, or simply sit on the porch sipping a cup to tea. 
  • Convert from readable to audible. If you’re an avid reader, utilize platforms such as Audible.com, so you can listen to the books while driving, cleaning, running errands, etc., that you don’t have time to sit down and read anymore.  

Make sure everyone is pulling their weight 

Remember when you put your five year old’s rain boots on, only to realize s/he had been able to put them on him/herself for two full years already? It may be time to take stock of who is capable of doing what to help out. 

  • Could a licensed teen/20-something take a turn taking his/her grandparent to the doctor? Or do the grocery shopping? Help out with dinner? 
  • Might your out-of-town/state family members take on the meal delivery coordination for your parents, which can easily be organized and paid for online? 
  • Are there extra household chores the kids can pick up to lighten your load now that you’re more actively involved in caring for their grandparents? 
  • Can other family members split or take over the adult day care or respite care bills to do their share since you do the majority of the physical, day-to-day, and logistical caregiving? 
  • Are you able to afford housekeeping help so you can spend more time relaxing at home? Even bi-monthly visits can yield extra free time for you. 
  • Have you considered using a part-time, senior caregiving service, with the costs split between your parents, yourself, and any sibling(s)?  

Learning to ask for help – or demand a fair share of help – is often essential to getting your support needs met.  

When You’re Ready For A Break

Are you looking for licensed respite care, home care, or other senior services provided by compassionate seniors in the comfort of your home – or your parent’s home? Schedule a free, in-home assessment with HomeAide Home Care

Ending Social Isolation In Seniors

ending social isolation in seniors

AARP and other senior surveys cite that up to 90% of seniors would prefer to age-in-place, in the comfort of their neighborhoods and home if it were safe to do so. 

And, while safety measures such as accessible home improvements and scaled, in-home care providers are often a focus, family caregivers can forget that supporting a senior’s social life can be equally as important for his/her health and wellbeing. 

Social Isolation Causes Loneliness, Depression, & Anxiety 

Aging-in-place translates to “living alone” for the majority of seniors, and this can lead to social isolation. Age-related decline and mortality, combined with driving restrictions and mobility issues, can cause a senior’s social life to shrink at exponential rates.  

Unfortunately, a lack of social interaction leading to social isolation in seniors is linked to escalating health conditions such as: 

  • Depression 
  • Heart disease 
  • High blood pressure 
  • More rapid cognitive decline 
  • Stroke 
  • Anxiety 
  • Sleep disorders 

These findings exemplify how important it is to prioritize the health of your senior loved one’s social life, as well as their physical and mental health. 

Ideas to support a vibrant senior social life 

Here are ideas that support a senior’s social life and that work to end senior social isolation.  

Provide the support required to maintain their current social calendar 

Does your parent have a busy social calendar, filled to the brim with lunch dates, Rotary or Kiwanis meetings, social functions at their local spiritual center, hair and nail appointments, etc.? Don’t let those fall by the wayside just because s/he can’t drive anymore or isn’t able to safely or confidently use public transportation. 

Take some time to organize carpools with other members of those groups who are still able to drive, take advantage of senior-specific public transport such as Dial-a-Ride, or begin interviewing local, licensed senior care providers that offer driving as part of their services menu. 

Hire a companion to prevent social isolation

Companion services are one of the most popular in-home care options. When you hire a companion, your senior loved one instantly gains a social connection with benefits. In addition to keeping seniors company, reading, listening to music, and driving clients to and from regular social engagements, companionship services can also be expanded to include things like errand running and grocery shopping, cooking meals or keeping seniors company while they eat, dining out at a favorite restaurant, attending community events, and so on. 

Even if your loved one has transitioned into an assisted living or nursing home facility, caregivers can still support their social interaction with regularly scheduled visits that are tailored to the client’s interests and hobbies. 

Get them active as community volunteers 

There are loads of non-profit and volunteer-driven groups in your area who are looking for caring individuals with time on their hands. Does that sound like your senior loved one? Getting seniors active in their communities, providing much-needed hands-on support is a win-win for everyone.  

In addition to providing help and care to those in need, volunteering helps to make seniors feel productive, needed, and essential – something that can slip by the wayside if their long-term care plan doesn’t include social interaction. Read our post Volunteer Opportunities Are a Win-Win for Everyone to learn more about potential volunteering needs here in the Bay Area. You can double-down on the wins by getting the whole family involved in Grandma or Grandpa’s favorite charity every once in a while. What better way to spend time together as a family? 

Make sure they’re getting ample time with grandchildren 

Speaking of win-winds and time spent together as a family, study after study shows how important it is for children to spend time with their grandparents. If Alzheimer’s or dementia make it unsafe for unsupervised visits, there are still so many ways children can benefit by reading to their grandparent, listening to their favorite songs or hearing grandparents’ stories as they watch old movies or pictures. 

Grandchildren are young, vibrant, and have a unique, heart-to-heart connection when they have the time to develop a relationship. Countless studies show the benefits for children who have the opportunity to spend more time with grandparents, including greater self-confidence and more focus in school. Visit The Benefits of Spending Time With Grandparents to learn more. 

Optimize the benefits of technology for face-to-face time 

If your parent or grandparent isn’t a natural technophile, s/he is still in luck. Companies like Samsung are creating tablets that are specifically geared for seniors by simplifying the connection process. While Zoom has become a superstar during the era of COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place, Skype and Google Video Hangouts also offer opportunities to connect “face-to-face” with children, grandchildren, or peers who have relocated over the years.  

Piggy-backing on our advice to spend more time with grandchildren, seniors with younger grandkids can check out software platforms like Caribu, that allow adults to read with children while looking at the same book (via the screen, of course) – no matter how many miles are between them. 

Ending social isolation in seniors means finding ways to make seniors feel needed, wanted, and loved – something we can all understand.

We’re Always Here

Interested in learning more about companion services and other in-home care options that provide sparks of warmth and human connection in your senior loved one’s life? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care. We’ve provided personalized, person-to-person care and companionship to Bay Area seniors for 20-years and counting. 

Inclusive Care For LGBT Elders

inclusive care for lgbt elders

As 21st century Bay Area residents, it is difficult to understand the reality most of our LGBT elders experienced as a result of sexual orientation and/or non-binary identification. Discrimination affects LGBT seniors at every level – and health care is no exception. That is why you must take such thoughtful care when selecting inclusive home care for LGBT elders and loved ones. 

Compassionate, Non-Discriminatory Care Is Essential For LGBT Elders 

Finding compassionate, non-discriminatory care is essential for LBGT seniors to age independently and as healthy as possible. According to LGBThealth.org: 

LGBT people are more likely to experience certain health issues compared to people who are not LGBT. These health issues are mostly related to the stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBT people in their daily lives—including at school or work, in public places, or in health care settings.  

While this post serves as a very general introduction to a complex topic, we highly recommend downloading the National LGBT Health Center’s Guide, Providing Inclusive Services and Care For LGBT People, to learn more about this important topic. 

In order for seniors to age-in-place, while retaining dignity and independence, they must have caregivers who understand the specific needs of the LGBT senior population. 

Topics To Consider For Creating And Inclusive And Welcoming Space 

The simple act of including a small rainbow flag symbol on employees’ name tags, a symbol of LGBT inclusion, is a big one. However, it must be backed by employees or staff who are truly inclusive and welcoming.  

Inclusivity begins with understanding the damaging impact that can occur as the result of subtle or obvious language/word choices or insensitive questions/comments – as well as how to recover if an error is made. It blossoms when our LGBT clients and patients feel free to be themselves without judgment or criticism.  

While the hope is that care for LGBT clients and patients will become second-nature, there is much work to be done until then. As the National LGBT Health Education Center confirms, “luckily with some training and small changes in protocol, it is possible to provide safe, affirming, and inclusive environments for transgender people.” 

To give you an overview of what being inclusive means, here is a list of some of the topics, considerations, and lessons put forth in the National LGBTQs Guide for Healthcare Staff: 

Understanding the common health issues affecting LGBT elders

LGBT people are at higher risk for depression, suicidal thoughts, STDs and STD-related health conditions, addiction, smoking habits, and social and family isolation. Similarly, they are less likely to observe routine health appointments if they’ve experienced discrimination in the past, and less likely to have preventative cancer screenings. 

Other barriers LGBT seniors have faced include: 

  • Limited access to basic health care 
  • Negative experiences (discrimination or even abuse) with healthcare providers or those in authority 
  • Experiencing health care providers who were not qualified or knowledgeable enough to provide high-quality care to their LGBT patients. 

LGBT clients’ expectations and triggers around honest mistakes from healthcare providers  

As you can imagine, LGBT seniors have experienced a lifetime of discrimination from society, and many have been the victims of hateful or violent verbal abuses from others. Even in the best of cases, an LGBT individual may have experienced uncomfortable or insensitive comments from those they trusted, including health care providers. 

As such, caregivers should know how to respond if they do, unwittingly, illicit a triggered response from an honest mistake, continuing to build trust with clients. 

Communication basics, including pronouns and preferred names/terms 

Caregivers should pay close attention and only use the name/pronoun(s) clients use for themselves. This also includes the terms clients use for themselves, partners, or spouses. For example, if a man refers to himself as gay, you also refer to him as gay rather than “homosexual,” regardless of your intentions to be politically correct. Acceptable vs. derogatory terms for the LGBT population have morphed through the decades and what is appropriate for him and his generation may not seem appropriate to you; our job is to honor the client’s wishes. 

Similarly, a client’s records provided by the family may state s/he is a “him,” when, in fact, she identifies as a “her.” Don’t make assumptions that information from family is correct. It’s always better to check the records provided with the patient to verify his/her preferences. 

How to handle when name/gender records don’t match 

If a client is transgender, you may experience medical, insurance, or other “official” records that do not match your client. Besides the risk of discrimination or a desire to comply with social norms, LGBT seniors may not have wanted to spend the time, energy, and emotional investment required to move through the complicated process of a legal name change. 

By checking in, “Hello there. I see you are listed as Jean, is that your preferred name or do you go by another name,” gives the client a chance to open the door so s/he and the caregivers can establish an honest, honoring, and safe baseline. 

Avoid asking unnecessary questions 

It is understandable to want to get to know your client and to be curious about his/her past. However, caregivers should let clients lead the conversation around personal or sensitive topics, particularly one as potentially heated or triggering as a person’s gender and/or sexual identity. 

Before embarking on a potential emotional land mine, consider: 

  • What do I know?  
  • What do I need to know?  
  • How can I ask for the information I need to know in a sensitive way? 

Remember that gender and/or sexuality can be fluid 

Back in the 70s and 80s, you were more apt to hear about someone being gay, straight, or lesbian – with clear boundaries. In the 90s, the term “bisexual” was used more often to help those who didn’t feel exclusively any one thing. Today, the various terms available to sexual/gender orientation or expression (or even the lack thereof) abound.  

Sexual orientation 

Sexual orientation is not the same as gender expression. A person’s sexual orientation describes their sexual/emotional attraction to others. The following terms apply to sexual orientation: 

  • Heterosexual (straight)  
  • Lesbian 
  • Gay 
  • Bisexual 
  • Asexual 

Gender identity 

A person’s gender identity is his/her own identity of being male or female. Terms defining gender orientation include: 

  • Transgender woman: A man who identifies as a woman 
  • Transgender man: A woman who identifies as a man 
  • Gender fluid: A person who does not identify, or chooses not to identify, as a single-gender.  
  • Many others as accurate vocabulary continues to emerge over time 

Ultimately, LGBT clients deserve to be respected first and foremost as individuals. From there, caregivers can work to create clear, comfortable communication channels that include the correct terms or identifications that are most important or meaningful to the client. 

We Care

Are you looking for home care providers who know how to provide inclusive care for LGBT elders? Consult with multiple local agencies, and ask them directly whether or not they have experience with the LGBT client community as well as what they do to educate and train their caregivers accordingly. These in-home assessments are free and are essential to ensure you hire the right agency for the job.  

Contact HomeAide Home Care to work with a Bay Area home care agency who has years of experience serving our LGBT elders.

Home Care Agency vs Independent Caregiver

home care agency vs independent caregiver

Meta: Home care agencies offer benefits independent caregivers don’t, such as education/training, workman’s comp, flexibility, and qualified replacements time off. 

Once you notice the signs a parent or senior loved one needs more support; the hunt for the right caregiver is a logical next step. If you are bringing in a caregiver from outside the family network- either as the primary caregiver or to supplement family caregivers, you’ll have two options: hiring an independently advertised caregiver from a registry or hiring one from a licensed home care agency

There is a big difference between the two. And, while we understand that cost is one of the most significant factors determining who you hire, know there are always hidden costs associated with hiring an independent caregiver from a registry. 

Hiring From A Registry vs Hiring A Home Care Agency 

First, it’s crucial to establish the difference between the hiring processes themselves. 

Hiring from an online registry 

Searching for a caregiver from a registry takes multiple forms, including: 

  • Craigslist or “Help Wanted/Needed” adds 
  • Temp agency 
  • Professional staffing agency 
  • Referrals of private caregivers (or family members looking for work) from your social network 
  • Independent contracting agencies 
  • Private duty registry 

For safety and security purposes, we advise against hiring anyone via a Craigslist or other online format that offers no form of quality control. Seniors are vulnerable, far more prone to scams and fraud than other populations, so a high-level vetting process is essential before you let anyone into your home or your loved one’s life. 

While staffing agencies may do a basic check of a candidate’s employment history and referrals, they aren’t senior care experts. Also, they don’t typically run complete criminal background checks, DMV checks, etc., nor do they typically focus on candidates’ job history and references (who knows whether that “job reference” you called to verify was just their Uncle Bob, posing as a former boss?) 

Hiring a licensed home care agency 

When you contract with a licensed caregiving agency, you aren’t actually hiring anyone. You’re contracting with an agency, becoming a client, rather than a direct employer of their staff. 

In addition to working with caregivers who have a gift for working with seniors, you also benefit from the ability to work with Medicare-approved caregivers and to verify business licensing, Better Business Bureau ratings and reports, and other resources proving you’re working with high-quality care providers. 

We can’t emphasize enough the benefits of working with a Medicare-approved caregiving agency. That stamp of approval can become invaluable if/when your parents require care related to medical events or diagnoses, which may be covered by Medicare and private insurance coverage. 

Here are some of the other considerations when hiring independently or from a registry compared with working with an agency. 

Employer vs. Client 

As an employer, you’re beholden to regional, state, and federal employment laws. You simply can’t hire anyone “under-the-table” anymore, without facing potentially serious fines, penalties, and litigation. 

When hiring caregivers independently, you’ll need to think about: 

  • Taxes 
  • Social security payments 
  • Workers Comp/disability insurance 
  • Paid sick days, vacations, time off 
  • Health insurance, retirement, and other benefits 
  • Who will show up to fill in/takeover if the hired caregiver(s) don’t turn up, call in at the last minute, or quit in the middle of a shift? 

When you hire from an agency, you’re the agency’s client and they employ the caregivers. So, while their costs may seem higher at the outset, they’re typically far less than when you add a private caregiver’s independent wages with the additional taxes and benefits costs required of you. 

Not to mention, the business/logistics of being an employer is a lot to take on when you’re also managing aging parents’ needs with your own and your family’s needs. 

Safety and Security 

The caregivers working with qualified agencies are vetted via complete criminal background checks, employment verification, and thorough check-ins with references. Plus, because they work for agencies specializing in senior and memory care, they attend ongoing education, training, conferences, seminars, and skills reinforcement around home care, senior health, nutrition, etc. 

Not only are most independent caregivers devoid of those qualifications (never accept a candidate-provided credit or background check!), you are responsible for their continuing education and training so they can keep up with the senior’s changing needs with knowledge, expertise, and professional etiquette. 

The level of education, training, and care available from an agency cannot be compared with the large majority of private or independent registry offerings. 

Costs & Out-of-Pocket Payment 

We spoke above that the costs associated with private caregivers often winds up being much higher, and for lower-quality care. As payingforseniorcare.com states, “Aging Americans are struggling to pay for assisted living, home care and other forms of long term care.” 

Keeping the long-term view of the costs associated with senior care is important. For example, there are multiple ways to cover these costs, including VA benefits, liquidating properties or assets that aren’t in use, Medicare coverage, or working with a financial advisor to use retirement or reverse mortgage options to subsidize at-home care. 

Supervision & Monitoring 

As an employer, you’re responsible for the supervision and monitoring of your caregiver employee. Assigning tasks, creating systems to monitor and evaluate they’re doing what they were hired to do, and you’re also responsible for discipline when job performance is sub-par or worse. 

Agency caregivers are monitored by their employers, and software and apps ensure there is a digital track record of tasks assigned/completed, communication between you the client/ caregiver-agency, any red flags, as well as caregiver’s assessment of how services/offerings can best be tailored to the senior’s evolving needs. 

If/when a caregiver requires discipline, requires removal from an assignment, fails to show up for work, etc., the agency automatically sends a qualified and situation-appropriate caregiving replacement to immediately step in until a permanent replacement is found. That’s a much harder scenario to handle if you hire a caregiver on your own. 

If you’re searching for qualified senior caregivers to support a senior loved one’s independence, consider scheduling assessments with at least three, separate agencies in your area to learn more about what’s available, their qualifications, and to feel out which one feels best-suited for the senior client. 

We’re Here For You

Interested in learning more about the benefits of using a licensed home care agency? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care, Inc. and schedule a free, in-home assessment. There is no obligation and we’ll answer all of your questions, and provide valuable information, about how to age at home with grace, safety, and dignity

The Benefits Of Spending Time With Grandparents

the benefits of spending time with grandparents

One of the reasons we initially started a senior home care agency in the Bay Area was because we love seniors, and we know how important human engagement is for their health and wellbeing. Not surprisingly, it turns out that spending time with grandparents is just as beneficial for the third- and fourth generations. 

Until relatively recently in western culture, spending time with grandparents was a given because families either lived in multigenerational households or grandparents lived close by. Now, in a time when grandparents may live on another coast – or another country – our children miss out on crucial opportunities to develop their intelligence in all capacities and to build essential bonds with their elders. 

Spending Time With Grandparents

Here are nine sweet reasons why your children benefit from spending quality time with their grandparents. 

It builds more emotional intelligence  

Single-working parent households were largely the norm, or one parent was able to bring work into the house, keeping children with them outside of school schedules. Today, increasing numbers of children spend their first several years in daycare facilities. Regardless of how wonderful they are, a daycare provider can never fill the space that a parent or grandparent occupies in a child’s life. 

So, it makes sense that studies show children who spend more time with their grandparents have fewer emotional/behavioral problems and score higher on emotional intelligence assessments. 

They smile and laugh more often 

It’s a given that the grandparent role is a special one. In the best-case scenarios, grandparents get to serve as an unconditionally loving family member who has just slightly looser ties on the child than his/her parents. Grandparents are often retired or only work full time, have more time on their hands and are eager to share focused time and energy with their grandchildren. 

As a result, grandparents have that magical ability to make children laugh, smile, and be more silly – more often. That leads to a happier and more joy-filled child. That same interaction also makes for happier, healthier seniors. 

Encourages more positive social behavior 

A recent study evaluated 10 – to 14-year-olds from both single- and two-parent households. The number of parents didn’t seem to affect social and academic performance as much as the researchers expected it to. However, children who had more regular interactions with their grandparents were more empathetic and compassionate in social settings, and they were generally more engaged in school.  

They are less likely to become depressed 

Worried your child, tween, or teen is having a hard time socially or could be battling depression? It might be time to schedule an evening, weekend, or holiday visit with grandma and/or grandpa. Children who report having a close relationship with their grandparents are less likely to experience symptoms of depression.  

Among other things, children may feel more comfortable sharing their feelings, or being comforted by their grandparents. And, because seniors are prone to loneliness and depression, they are able to sympathize and express their understanding of where the children are coming from, which helps children feel more seen and heard. 

Children forge a deeper connection with their family history and culture 

Grandparents have long been considered the story keepers in any family line. The more time a child spends with his/her grandparents or great grandparents, the more likely s/he is to see photos and albums, watch old family movies, and to hear stories that connect them to their lineage. This is particularly important for second- and third-generation immigrants who may have a less direct connection to their cultural ties. 

It can help children have a stronger bond with their parents 

Having a hard time with your adolescent? A visit with the grandparents is a great idea. In addition to giving you and your child a break, odds are s/he’ll hear lots of stories about how you were growing up – many of which you may not remember or don’t have the “parent’s perspective” about.  

Hearing about your funny, silly, surprising, or similar escapades may benefit you, too, because your child will return with a greater understanding (and bond) with your past. 

Spending time with grandparents boosts oxytocin levels (the love hormone) with cuddles 

Oxytocin is one of the “love hormones,” facilitating feelings of emotional warmth, comfort, relaxation, and connectedness. Known as a bonding hormone, oxytocin is released when we hug, cuddle, and share affectionate touch. Since grandparents are likely to have more time to snuggle on the couch, read a book, or reach out and give a gentle, long hug, your child will experience boosts in oxytocin – and all of its physical and emotional benefits. 

They can grow their skill sets 

Feel like your kids are spending way too much time on their phones, gadgets, or in front of screens – and not enough time developing their skills? Odds are one or more of your parents, step-parents or in-laws have skills they are eager to pass down. And, your child is more likely to say yes to learning woodworking, handwork, yard work, and gardening, etc., when it’s offered up by Nana or gramps. 

Ample, unconditional love 

Everyone benefits from unconditional love, and the more of it, the better. While parents are typically the go-to providers of unconditional love, experiencing it from grandparents and extended senior family members give children the opportunity to learn multidimensional examples of what unconditional love really is.  

These are just some of the many benefits of spending time with grandparents. If possible, try to find a way to connect your children with their grandparent(s), and vice versa. It’s a win-win in every way. 

We’re Here To Help

Have a parent with mobility issues or a diagnosis that makes it harder for them to spend time with their grandchildren without help? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and we can connect you with just the right companion, driver, or helper to facilitate their precious bonding time.

Volunteer Opportunities For Seniors Are A Win-Win For Everyone

volunteer opportunities for seniors are a win win for everyone

The ability to participate in volunteer opportunities for seniors in the local community, making a difference in the lives of others, is one of the best ways seniors can feel wanted, needed and loved. Whether your senior loved ones still live at home independently or have a regular caregiver who helps them out (double the volunteer impact!), there are countless ways Bay Area seniors can volunteer in our community.

Volunteerism supports seniors’ overall health and wellbeing in multiple ways:

  • It keeps them socially engaged
  • They receive a renewed sense of inspiration, connection with their community and purpose
  • Getting out and about almost always means more physical/mental activity, resulting in more exercise
  • Additional stimulation can support some of the common issues faced by seniors, such as lack of appetite, interrupted sleep, loneliness, and depression

A bonus of activating your senior loved one’s volunteer commitment? It might be just the thing to get him/her to take advantage of a licensed, caregiver in the guise of driving assistance. Once that relationship is forged, it paves the way for adding additional, essential caregiving services your parents or aging loved ones are resisting otherwise.

We also recommend reading, Outing Ideas for Seniors and Their Caregivers for additional ideas to get seniors out and active in the community.

Volunteer Opportunities For Seniors In The Bay Area

Here are some of the volunteer opportunities and where to look for those opportunities available right here in the Bay Area.

Connect with the RSVP program

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in San Francisco was designed to streamline seniors’ ability to volunteer for programs that align with their interests, talents, and abilities.

Visit the RSVP Website and sign up. Then you can review relevant volunteer opportunities for seniors and determine which ones are the most appealing and that coordinate with your schedule.

Community Gardens

Does your loved one enjoy gardening? Backyard gardening is enjoyable and beneficial, but putting that passion to work in a community garden has exponential benefits, including growing nutritious produce for food banks, to increase the nutritional benefits (and enhance the flavor/interest) of their own meals, or to share with lesser-privileged members of our community.

In Alameda, community gardeners enjoy working in the Alameda Bay/Eagle Community Garden. Use your search engine and type, “community gardens in “your area,” to find nearby examples, like The Edible Garden Program in Berkeley.

Community Education Partnership

Stability and a sold home life are considered integral to academic success. Unfortunately, the Bay Area has far too many children who find themselves homeless, moving around frequently, and unable to thrive in school.

The Community Education Partnership (CEP) partners volunteer adults with motivated students in multiple formats – all designed to foster healthy relationships and sustainable learning for students who are homeless.

You can also contact local schools in your area, many of which offer reading and tutoring programs ideal for retired adults with the desire to help our youth improve literacy and critical thinking.

Share love with animals at a local animal shelter or SPCA

There’s no doubt fostering a relationship between seniors and animals is beneficial for both parties. While pet ownership is a reality for some, many seniors find themselves unable to own a pet due to rental or housing restrictions or unwilling to take on the responsibility- regardless of their desire.

Volunteering at the SPCA or a local animal shelter could be the answer, providing homeless and starved-for-attention pets the opportunity to be loved until they find their right “forever home.”

Be a kind voice on the other end of The Friendship Line

The Friendship Line was created to help lonely seniors or others find companionship without leaving their homes. If your senior loved one is homebound or more reticent to leave the house, volunteering for The Friendship Line is a great way to do good from home.

Don’t forget to check in with your local senior center

Sometimes, individuals, groups or organizations seeking volunteers advertise at Senior Centers. Check in with your local senior center and ask if they’re familiar with volunteer opportunities suited to seniors.

We Can Help

Would you like to learn more about the ways licensed home care aides can support senior independence and wellbeing? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and schedule a consultation.

Outing Ideas For Seniors And Their Caregivers

outing ideas for seniors and their caregivers

Tired of being cooped up in the house all day? So is your senior client. And, let’s face it, even the same series of weekly errands and appointments get boring after a while. Let us help you with some simple but fun outing ideas.

5 Outing Ideas To Break Up The Day

The following ideas will help shake you both out of the routine rut and bring a little spring back into your steps.

Join an exercise class

Between yoga and Pilates classes, gyms and the recreation centers in your area, there are plenty of senior-specific exercise classes available. Exercise has a myriad of benefits for seniors, including improving appetites and sleep habits, slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases and elevating moods.

Most senior-centric exercise classes offer modifications for chair-bound seniors, but you can always call ahead to verify. As long as you’re at it, you might as well join in or attend a class in the same location so you’re on the workout path together.

Hit the movies

In an effort to garner more business during the slower times of the day, many theaters offer specific senior day discounts that go beyond the normal matinee pricing. In addition to showing box office hits, they may also re-show some of those classics your client loved back when they were young adults.

Here is a link to Cinemark’s Senior Day Discounts – just type in your zip code to find participating theaters near you. If you aren’t a Cinemark moviegoer, check in with your favorite local theater next time you’re there to see if they have special senior offerings.

Get involved with animals

Animals provide a wonderful way for seniors to express their love and feel that love returned. While owning an easy-to-care-for pet is certainly an option, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the human-animal connection if pet ownership isn’t possible.

Examples include:

  • Visiting a local bird sanctuary or an easy-access spot at a local nature reserve or park to picnic and observe nature
  • Volunteer together at a local animal shelter or SPCA
  • Put up ads to walk a neighborhood dog for free at a certain day/time each week (perhaps for a new mom or a busy single parent who can’t afford a dog walker)
  • Get something hot or cold to drink and sit at the local dog park to watch the dogs romp
  • Find the best pet store in town and browse their animal collections
  • Head to a local zoo and enjoy their senior discounts

Let’s face it; animals are entertaining and heartwarming, so it’s hard to be anything other than happy in their presence.

Visit your local senior center and community event’s website

Most Bay Area senior centers are bustling centers of organized activities. Whether you choose to attend one of their events, or check-in about the most senior-friendly events and venues this time of year, odds are you’ll learn about compelling opportunities you weren’t aware of before.

For example, Alameda’s Mastick Senior Center is incredible. Membership is free (but required to attend/participate in events) and the activities they offer seem endless. Workout rooms, bocce ball courts, arts and crafts classes, sewing/handwork sessions, and off-site day trips and excursions are all available. It’s a wonderful way to get out and connect with other seniors and caregivers in the area.

Similarly, most communities, towns and/or cities have event websites advertising all the great goings-on from month-to-month. For example, here’s the Special Events page for Alameda; perusing it each month with your clients allows you to learn more about their interests – letting them guide the way to the events, shows, fairs and activities you both attend.

Treat yourselves to delicious foods via Farmer’s Markets and Food Trucks

Phase One of adding support often begins via in-home aides that offer driving services and/or meal preparation services. Both are important, but since seniors are so prone to malnutrition, the latter is a top priority.

Farmer’s Markets can be instrumental in not only getting seniors out and about once in a while but also allowing them the sumptuous experience of eating fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, which are much more flavorful than their grocery store counterparts. Food trucks (have a food truck park nearby?) are another fun alternative to restaurant dining and often involve creative, artisanal foods and drinks that aren’t your average chain restaurant fare.

We Can Help With Outing Ideas

Wish your senior loved one could get out and about more often? Licensed caregivers, in the form of companions, can be hired as minimally as once a week or as much as needed, and often pave the way for experienced, compassionate home care services as seniors need it along the way.

Contact HomeAide Home Care, Inc. today to learn more about how to ensure your senior loved one can get out and about more often – with the assistance of our outing ideas and heartfelt caregivers who provide personalized assistance tailored to our clients’ needs and interests.

7 Signs Your Senior Loved One Requires Additional Help

7 signs your senior loved one requires additional help

Sometimes, seniors experience abrupt shifts that require the implantation of additional help or support – such as a broken hip or a major illness. Other times, the road from “completely independent” to “needing assistance” occurs so gradually, it’s easy to miss the key warning signs until you become a family in crisis.

The best long-term care plans are those that are set up to provide minimal or part-time assistance in the form of driving, errand running, housecleaning, etc., and then scale up as age/health requires it.

Read, Helping Independent Elderly Loved Ones Stay Independent, for more along those lines.

7 Signs It’s Time To Acquire Additional Help

In the meantime, here are 7 key indicators it’s time to rally the troops, bring in outside support and/or create a more focused long-term care plan.

S/he’s more forgetful than usual

At first, forgetfulness is blamed on “senior brain,” and of course, there is some logic to this. However, repeat missed appointments, birthdays, bill payments, prescription refills, hair appointments, etc. are signs that something more is going on.

In addition to pursuing dementia screening by a professional healthcare provider, these 7 signs indicate that someone else (or multiple people) need to be brought in to support and provide additional help with the daily ins-and-outs.

Notable weight loss

Often, elders (with or without dementia) simply stop eating like they used to. Those who live alone can find it laborious to prepare meals every day or may not be able to drive to – or navigate – grocery stores anymore. Sometimes, underlying depression or other health conditions cause a decrease in weight and/or an appetite. Try to identify the cause of the weight loss and then move forward from there.

If shopping or meal preparation is an issue, support can be brought in. If a relative or friend isn’t able to help out with grocery shopping, it might be time to enlist support from senior meal services or a home care provider who can prepare nutritious “ready to heat/eat” meals and snacks.

Visit, Preventing Malnutrition in the Elderly, for ideas on how to support healthy, senior nutrition.

The house is unclean and/or a flat-out disaster

Like meal preparation, housekeeping becomes laborious for those who are weaker, are experiencing vision loss, have mobility issues, are afraid to stand on stepladders, etc. Having a neat, clean and orderly home is essential to senior health. In addition to sanitation issues, a cluttered, messy and/or unmaintained home poses safety risks.

First, do all you can to make the home safer and more accessible for seniors, focusing on steps to make the bathroom safe (it’s the most dangerous room in the house!). Find a reputable housecleaner in the area and help seniors connect with licensed professionals who can perform automatic, routine home maintenance. If you feel cognition is an issue or sense this is the beginning of a decline, a part-time care provider can handle most basic housekeeping and maintenance tasks.

There are notable hygiene issues

Is your once well-coiffed mother now looking more unkempt? Do you notice unpleasant body or poor hygiene-related odors? Feel sure clothing hasn’t been laundered in weeks? Do bed linens and towels appear grungy?

These are all signs that something is amiss – and that “something” can range from general loneliness and depression to full-blown health and/or cognition issues. All are worth a gentle discussion and the sign to look for outside support, assistance, and additional assistance via their physician’s assessment and/or a consultation with a home care provider.

The fridge and pantry contents are minimal to nonexistent

Take a peek into the fridge and pantry contents. If you consistently notice a lack of the basics, fresh fruit, and veggies or tasty, nutritious drinks and snacks – take action. If friends and family aren’t able to do regular grocery runs – and/or you’ve assessed meal prep is an issue – a homecare provider can take up the slack by shopping and preparing meals.

Bills aren’t being paid and/or notable discrepancies in financial statements

Forgetting to pay bills on a consistent basis is a dangerous sign; so, too, are notable discrepancies on financial statements. The former is easy to prevent, establishing automatic bill pay, etc. The former is often a sign of financial elder abuse – ranging from scams to nefarious relatives and “friends.”

Read, Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse, to learn more about how to prevent, detect and handle signs of financial abuse. Additionally, this is a good time for you and family members to discuss things like Power of Attorney options and advanced directives.

Inexplicable and/or repeat dings, dents and automobile scrapes

Oh, boy. This one is often the most difficult to navigate at all because giving up the keys can seem impossible for many seniors. That being said, their safety – and the safety of others – is a top priority. If you suspect your senior isn’t a safe driver – schedule an appointment with the optometrist. A new prescription may be all s/he needs. If, however, it’s time to give up the keys, visit our post titled, How to Convince a Senior to Give up Driving.

Let Us Supply The Additional Help

Having a difficult time discerning whether or not your parent or senior loved one needs support or additional help? Schedule a consultation with a local home care provider. These no-obligation consults are instrumental in providing experienced, professional assessment, much-needed advice or tips, as well as the creation of a thoughtful, long-term care plan.

Age in Place with a Universal Home Design

age in place with a universal home design

Are you or someone you love interested in aging-in-place. While “aging in place” seems like a contemporary trend, it’s actually a return to the way all of us aged, prior to the post-war era. In the past several decades, both seniors, their families, and their pocketbooks have realized that remaining in a comfortable home, surrounded by the things, people and pets you love most, is often the most desirable scenario for everyone involved. The best way to do this is to create a universal home design.

Not only is aging-in-place proven to improve healing rates, senior mental and emotional health – it’s also considerably more affordable than moving into an assisted living or nursing home facility. When you pair the choice to remain at home – and bring the care to you as needed – and the tenets of universal home design, you create a living space that is entirely dedicated to your safety, comfort, and ease of mobility.

For specific details about universal home design, we recommend visiting the AARP’s article on the subject.

What is a Universal Home Design?

As we mentioned before, the goal of a universal design is to promote safety, comfort, and ease of mobility. In some cases, very little to no construction is required to create a universal design. In others, you may find it’s worthwhile to build an accessibly designed remodel. The latter ensures fixtures and finishes are new, stylish and comply with ADA building codes, all of which can increase the value of the home when/if it is eventually sold down the road.

Also, baby boomers often find a universally-themed remodel allows them to have their parents move in, as well as their own aging-in-place later on, which can collectively save tens of thousands of dollars. You do this by:

Creating a beautiful lighting design

Yes! You might not think of lighting first but lighting designs are an integral part of a remodel and they need to be thought about beforehand to be installed artfully. This includes a range of different lighting types:

  • Windows and skylights for ample daylighting. Not only does this keep electrical costs down during the day, it also helps to preserve human circadian rhythm, which will help to ease the daily rhythms for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
  • Plenty of task-lights set on dimmers. Artificial lighting should be warm, bright and task-oriented to improve visibility for senior eyes once the sun goes down – and ambient light creates attractive night lighting in the bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Floodlights and outdoor lighting. All of the exterior entrances and immediate outdoor areas should be well-illuminated using floods and other outdoor lighting sources. Special emphasis should be placed on ramps, stairways, walkways, and paths.
  • Motion-sensitive lighting. Motion-sensitive lights are always a bonus, set at certain times to ensure lights turn on when a senior enters a room or opens an exterior door, even if s/he forgets to turn on the switch.

Grab bars at all toilets, bathroom and shower areas

Grab bars are a tenet of senior bathroom safety because the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house – it’s hard, slippery and provides minimal room for comfortable maneuvering. Grab bars should be installed next to the toilet and within easy reach of bath and shower areas, as well as inside the bath or shower.

Flooring that’s compatible with mobility aids

Almost all seniors wind up using some form of mobility aid as they age. For this reason, universal designs automatically focus on flooring that is easy for canes, walkers, and wheelchairs to traverse. Typically, this involves a combination of linoleum (which is softer than tile or hardwood but comes in amazing luxurious patterns these days) and low-profile carpet.

Room to move around

This includes doorways, hallways, the space between the kitchen island and perimeter cabinets, the tables, and chairs, inside the bathroom, etc. Most universal designs will allow at least 38-inches or more so those with a walker or wheelchair can easily get around without having to constantly shimmy, lift, squeeze or reshuffled chairs and other furnishings.

Cabinets, drawers, and faucets that are easy to operate

Small doors and handles that need to be gripped are more difficult to operate when hands are weak and/or arthritis. A universal design eliminates this risk by using bar-style pulls and handles, and easy-lever faucets (or touch-sensitive faucets) to ensure seniors never have a problem accessing their drawers, cupboards, sinks, baths/showers, etc.

Smartly designed storage

Universal designs are often referred to as “accessible.” Not surprisingly, storage areas in kitchens, baths, and hallways are often inaccessible – particularly if they require a fair amount of bending, getting down on hands and knees, getting onto stepladders and so on. Instead, functional storage puts the things you use most within easy reach and utilizes things like pull-out shelving, pull-down racks, and lazy Susans to make cupboards and storage closets safer and more efficient.

As we mentioned before, a simple home rearranging and a few accommodations may be all your home needs to be more accessible. Or, if more significant work is required (like the installation of ramps, railings, new flooring, etc.), it’s worth considering a full, universally designed remodel. The combination of funds saved by aging-in-place, and the increased resale value, will make your new, accessible home well-worth the investment.

Holiday Inspired Mocktail and Cocktail Recipes

Looking for some fun, holiday-inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes for your senior loved ones and/or other family members? Look no further. We have some recipes and references for the hosts/entertainers in the family.

Serve Delicious Mocktail and Cocktail Magic at Your Holiday Feast

There are plenty of reasons senior loved-ones may not be allowed to drink alcohol. From recovering alcoholics and those with dementia, to seniors with dietary restrictions that eliminate alcohol – it’s easy for loved ones and friends to feel left out during holiday toasts.

Fortunately, the following holiday-inspired cocktail recipes are easily converted into mocktails so nobody feels left out of the fun. Even the kids can enjoy their mocktails, without any of the alcohol.

 

Cranberry Margaritas

These cranberry margaritas from gimmesomeoven.com are a host(ess)’s dream. Not only can they be prepared in advance, you can mix whole pitchers at a time without the alcohol so guests can serve themselves. Those who want the alcoholic version can have a shot of the tequila and a splash of Triple Sec added and stirred into their cup.

The recipe includes:

  • Cranberries
  • Tequila
  • Fresh lime juice
  • An orange liqueur (like Triple Sec)
  • Fresh cranberries and lime wedges for garnish
  • Salt for the glass rims

For non-alcoholic batches simply leave out the Tequila and add a splash of fresh-squeezed orange or tangerine juice.

Once your guests arrive – salt the glass rims, fill them with ice, poor the mock/cocktails and garnish with cranberries to float on top and a slice of lime on the rim.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Apple Pie Punch (great iced or hot)

Here’s another one that can be mixed up ahead of time (yahoo!) and is easy to “sneak” as a mocktail. This recipe comes to us via thecookierookie.com.

You’ll need:

  • One ripe apple, sliced into thin, lengthwise slices
  • Apple cider
  • Pear nectar (cans of Kearns are typically on the juice aisles of the grocery store)
  • Ginger Ale
  • Apple Pie Vodka

Just like the Cranberry margaritas, this can be mixed ahead of time and single, 1.5 oz shots of the vodka can be added to those who want them. This punch can be served as an iced-beverage, with an apple slice on the edge, or as a hot punch (heated up on the stove in a pan and ladled) with a slice of apple in the mug.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Pumpkin Pie Martini (and guess what? They’re low-carb!)

What good would holiday-inspired mocktails be if we didn’t include a little pumpkin? Martinis are a favorite of the senior set, and these pumpkin pie flavored versions will be a hit with the millennials too!

We found this recipe on alldayidreamaboutfood.com and everyone will be a fan of their low-carb attributes – which are great for any diabetics in the group.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

Rimming sugar: finely ground pecans, Swerve sweetener, ground cinnamon

  • Vanilla Vodka (or a splash of vanilla for the mocktail crowd)
  • Soda water (for the mocktails)
  • Dark rum
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Heavy cream
  • Swerve sweetener
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground Ginger
  • Ground nutmeg

Each one is mixed in a cocktail mixer and shaken with ice, poured into a glass that’s pre-coated with the scrumptious Rimming Sugar. The mocktail versions are made using sparkling water to make up the vodka/rum difference – along with a splash of vanilla for extra flavor. Cheers!

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

The Perfect Holiday Drink that can be Made as a Mocktail and Cocktail

We’ll conclude with one of our staff favorites, called The Perfect Thanksgiving Drink, shared by ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com. In addition to ease, the most striking thing about this drink is that you can make it in your clear, party-sized, water/iced tea dispenser used to serve cold beverages during the summer months.

In this case, the jugs – one with alcohol and one without – can be set atop your buffet or island bar top for a beautiful, colorful, serve-yourself drink station.

For this one, you’ll need:

  • Your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Sparkling cider, for the non-alcoholic crowd
  • Your choice of fizzy, lemon-lime soda (Sprite, Sierra Mist, 7-Up, etc.)
  • Cans of frozen, cranberry concentrate
  • A bag of fresh cranberries

Once you’ve mixed the ingredients together, you can put them in your drink dispenser with plenty of ice and get ready for lots of compliments.

holiday inspired mocktail and cocktail recipes

Does your senior loved one have a favorite cocktail they can no longer have as the result of their medical diagnosis, dementia or other health issue? You can easily make mocktail and cocktail beverages this holiday! The internet is a wonderful resource for finding non-alcoholic alternatives that can make all the difference in a senior’s ability to “maintain their preferred routine.”

The owners and staff at Bay Area-based HomeAide Home Care wish you and your family a wonderful holiday. Don’t hesitate to call us if you need respite care services over this upcoming holiday weekend or to learn more about the ways we can ensure your senior loved ones receive compassionate and experienced care while you’re out of town or away for a while.