Archive for April, 2014

Keeping Mum and Dad Occupied and Happy

Guest post by Emma Banks – Carer for her elderly father

Though their mobility and activity levels may change as they continue to age, it’s important to keep your elderly parent engaged as they enjoy a well-rounded life. Studies show that boredom and depression lead to forgetfulness, which make it even more important to help your elderly loved one find hobbies that they love and can easily do at home or with friends. Some of the best ways to keep Mum or Dad happy and positive include:

Get them on an exercise plan that works for them

Physical fitness is a huge part of keeping your elderly parent feeling good. Regardless of their ability level, you can find some form of physical activity that works for them. Popular options include swimming, walking, and Tai chi. You may even consider joining them for regular workouts, as this lets you spend quality time together, while making sure that your parent  is staying active. As an added bonus, studies show that when an older person is exercising regularly, they will enjoy better mobility, fewer physical ailments, and a more positive outlook on life. 005_father_and_daughter_optimised[2]

Find a replacement for the TV

Some older people are more comfortable at home, which is fine, but sitting in front of the TV all day just isn’t a stimulating way to live. If your elderly parent spends a lot of time at home, encourage them to use these hours to read books on new subjects, browse the Internet for blogs or articles they find interesting, or to start a scrapbook. These activities are much more active than just sitting in front of the TV, and will leave them feeling far more satisfied.

Get them something to care for

Depending on your parent’s energy level, consider getting them a pet or a plant to care for. Many older people explain that they feel out of place when they no longer have young children or a spouse to care for. Getting them a pet, whether it’s a bird, fish, dog, or cat, helps them to feel as if they have a purpose. If you don’t think your parent has the ability to care for a pet, you can get them a plant. They’ll still enjoy watering the plant and watching it grow, plus the green adds life and energy to the home.

Make the home comfortable

Ultimately if your parent doesn’t feel at ease in their own home, they’ll quickly become depressed and anxious. There are several steps you can take to make sure Mum or Dad love where they live. Start by removing any unnecessary clutter or rubbish from the space so that it feels neat and tidy. This also helps to eliminate any tripping hazards, making it easier for them to navigate around the space without worrying about slipping. I also try to keep the kitchen full of good foods and drinks for Dad. Everything from fresh fruit to treats. My father’s favorite chocolates are from a supplier here in the US called Shari’s Berries so I also try to keep a healthy stock of those. In the UK , Cocoa Loco supplies similar.

Take care of any light renovations, such as repainting walls or changing pictures on the wall. Even a few simple touch ups can completely reshape the appearance of a home, making it a much more modern and appealing place to spend time.  Make sure that doors and windows are easy to open, and that items are placed within easy reach in cabinets.

If you sense that your parent is still uneasy about living alone, consider bringing in a paid carer a few days per week to help them with basic chores such as light cleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry. In many cases, this can help to make your elderly loved one feel more comfortable in their own space. It also takes some of the stress off of them, as they can enjoy their independence without having to worry about mustering up the energy to deal with the shopping or cleaning up after a meal.


You can play a major role in ensuring that your loved one remains happy and engaged throughout all stages of their life. By getting them into a routine that’s filled with hobbies they love and a comfortable, clean home, you’re helping them to ward off depression and anxiety.

The Secret To Finding The Right Care Home For Your Elderly Relative

Finding the right care home for an elderly loved one can be time consuming, stressful and overwhelming. Where do you begin when presented with a long list of care homes in their area? How will you know which one is best for them?

The secret

  • The secret is that you need to personalise your research by using personal selection criteria. Here are some of the things you need to think about:
  • What geographical area do they want to live in?
  • What kind of care home do they need? A residential home, a care home with nursing or a specialist home for people living with dementia?
  • What budget do they have? If your relative is being funded by the local authority, they will have a limit to the amount they will pay so find this out before you begin your search

What is important to and for your relative? 009_old_woman_smiling_optimised[2]

When looking for a care home for my clients, I begin with the question, ‘What is important to you about living in a care home?’ If they are unable to answer for themselves, I ask the people who know them best. Sometimes they need a little help so I prompt them. These are a few of the things I have been asked to include in a care home search.

Having a nice garden, being pet friendly, having a nice view from the window, WiFi access, living near family, access to public transport, being part of a small group, having people to talk to, having plenty to do, being treated with dignity and respect, feeling in control, not having to move again if condition deteriorates, ensuite facilities, being able to take my own bed and chair, having breakfast in bed, be near church, male as well as female staff, somewhere quiet to meditate etc.

Then I find out what is important for them. For example, level access, staff trained in managing dementia, access to trained health professionals, cater for special diet, staff trained in end of life care, meets National care standards etc.

See things from your relative’s perspective

When looking for a care home, it is important to try and see things from the person’s perspective rather than your own.

For example when we had to find a new care home for my mother who is living with dementia, it was more important to find a home that would be able to manage her difficult behavioural and mental health issues than one having nice furniture, matching bedding and ensuite facilities. We initially found it difficult to visualise Mum in a home where the decor and furniture didn’t match and there was an expectation that she would be brought to the dining room for breakfast (she had been enjoying breakfast in bed for over 10 years) and have to sit in the lounge or conservatory with others all day. In her previous care home she had refused to move from her room where she stayed all day every day.

We soon realised our fears were unfounded. Mum has responded magnificently to the calm atmosphere and gentle, confident approach from staff. The staff team who are multicultural and dress in their own individual way, treat our Mother with dignity and respect and always have a warm smile for us when we visit. She is also oblivious to the functional and uncoordinated decor, furniture and equipment, despite these things having been important to her in the past.

Lessons to be learned

There are lesson to be learned here. Firstly, don’t assume that your mother or father will find the same things important to them as they did in the past, as like my mother this might not be the case. Secondly  routine and a calm atmosphere are important for people living with dementia.

Another example of a personal approach to finding the right care home is one of my recent clients. Something that was important to her was that the room was big enough to accommodate her double bed and bedroom furniture, the home was plush as she was leaving a large luxury apartment and there were regular social functions and people she could talk to as she craved company.

Good luck with your search and remember , the secret is to find the right home for your loved one rather than yourself.