As a city popular with retirees from other parts of Canada, many seniors live in Victoria with no family nearby. And even those with loved ones in town would rather spend enjoyable time together than having family do laundry or grocery shopping when visiting.
And that’s where companion services or home care can be the perfect solution.
“One of the questions everybody asks is, ‘How do I know that someone needs help?’” says Kathy Tough, owner of Victoria’s Serenity Home Care with husband Murray. “A lot of times, when we get a call, the family doesn’t know what to do.”
Here are a few questions to ask:
- Have a look at the home – Is it messy or cluttered where it wasn’t before? This may indicate housekeeping is becoming too much.
- Look in the refrigerator – Is the fridge full of uneaten, out-of-date perishables?
- Ask about the utilities – Are bills getting paid?
- How is their personal appearance – Are their clothes stained or unkempt? Is there body odour that might suggest they’re not bathing or are having incontinence issues?
- Have they lost weight?
- Are they wearing appropriate clothes for the weather? Someone with early dementia may look outside, see the wind blowing and think it’s cold, even in the summer, Kathy explains.
- Do they show signs of confusion or forgetfulness? When you’re having a conversation, are they having trouble with things that usually come easily? “We all forget things from time to time, but are they forgetting to take their medication or missing appointments?” Kathy asks.
How can you start the conversation?
Those currently in their 80s and 90s are used to doing things on their own, so may be reluctant to ask for help. However, “as they get older, activities like doing laundry or changing the beds can become too much,” Kathy says.
So, how do you broach the subject of home care with someone reluctant to appear like they need help?
Speaking to the parent about how outside care can bring children peace of mind can be key, especially if they live out of town. “Say, ‘It will greatly reduce the stress in my life if I know someone is checking in on you,’” Kathy says.
And, at the end of the day, ‘If you want to stay here, then you really need to bring in some help.”
It may also help if seniors realize families are busy, so when they’re visiting, they want to spend quality time with their parent or loved one.
“If you have someone to do those day-to-day tasks, your children can concentrate on spending enjoyable time with you, rather than doing chores, which is what they really want,” Kathy says.