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The March Edition | March 8, 2018
Katherine Peters
President & CEO

Message from the President

Greetings friend, and welcome to the March Comfort Connection! 
An older individual may move many times once they feel as though they can no longer maintain the home they love, where they may have lived for half a century. 

The first move may be to an assisted living facility. They believe they will receive the little bit of extra help they need here. In actuality, they will typically receive cooked meals – either 2 or 3 a day depending on the plan – and weekly light cleaning. Comforts of Home – Care often gets hired to provide additional help with laundry, companionship, transportation, or bill-paying, for example.

If this person experiences cognitive decline, they will soon be unable to manage in assisted living. They will need to move to supportive housing. Here the unit is locked and limited to 12 individuals per area. Comforts of Home – Care often gets hired for companionship, outings, and feeding for people in supportive housing.

The next move will be to a personal care home. You may think all your needs are taken care of in a personal care home, but only your physical, basic, absolutely essential needs are cared for. Comforts of Home – Care has many, many clients in personal care homes. We often provide companionship, outings, and even personal care. Sometimes we provide personalized care here for 8 to 12 hours a day.    

At any point in this continuum, an elderly person may get ill and be admitted to the hospital, often for weeks at a time. 

From living in your own home for many, many years, to so many moves and disruptions all in the space of a few years! I don’t know about you, but I don’t even like the thought of moving! Even packing for a trip is a little unnerving! 

Back up the bus!!! How about avoiding all these different transitions! In 2007, us kids moved my mom from her home into a condo. She was 77 years old; young enough to settle in and adjust. She made some friends and got to know the neighbourhood. The condo is easier to maintain than her house. There are no eaves troughs to clean (thank goodness for that! She would probably still be climbing the ladder and cleaning them herself!!).
Comforts of Home – Care provides monthly cleaning at this time. But if she ever needs anything more, care is easy to increase and put in place. Plus, she is used to the idea of "a stranger" (who is now a friend) coming to her home. My mom will be able to stay here for a very long time, and so far at 88 years old, she has only had to move once!


Katherine Peters
President & CEO

The Rewards of Decluttering

There are obvious reasons to declutter. Safety: clutter can trip us up. Efficiency: with declining eyesight, it gets hard to find things we use every day. Focus: messy environments can make it hard to process information.

Clutter is a growing problem today among all populations, and especially the elderly. To help your loved one downsize, create more room in their home, and/or just make it safer to age in place, it is important to note the difference between hoarders and clutterers. Hoarders are obsessive and will often need a trained professional specializing in obsessive compulsive disorder to let go. Clutterers, the more common type, are more apt to let go with a little encouragement and support. This article deals with the latter... and it's the perfect time of year to do a little spring cleaning!

Why Is Decluttering So Hard to Do?

Whether you want to pare down the stuff in your home, garage, or a storage unit, one problem is knowing where to start. The more we have, the more overwhelming it is. And for some of us the idea can be extremely anxiety-producing. A recent Yale study found that for some people, a part of our brain reacts the same way to the anticipated loss of valued possessions as it does to the idea of quitting an addiction. And there is the additional factor for the elderly of not wanting to lose a connection with the past, whether that be old school papers or a favorite jar opener you’ve had in the family since 1969 (most of us have at least one of these things still hanging around the house!).

Some Tips for Success... 

1. Get “buy in” from your loved one. Discuss the benefits for paring down, including potentially making some money from reselling your “stuff.” That can be through a yard sale, consignment shop, Craig’s List, or eBay. According to the New York Times, a well-planned garage sale typically nets between $500 and $1,000.

2. Share the process. Come up with ways to make it an enjoyable activity you share, such as reviewing old photos or school papers together, or doing a “fashion show” to see what clothes to keep. Create incentives—such as an outing or meal after doing a certain amount of “work.”

3. Don’t try to tackle too much at once. Help your loved one develop a strategy that addresses a room at a time, and then a single task at a time, so they are not overwhelmed. A good rule of thumb is to do no more than three hours of sorting a day, which is about how long we can sustain focus without a break.

4. Get organized. Consider preparing three bags or boxes and labeling them Keep, Toss, and Sell/Donate. You might add a fourth box for things that need repairing, mending, or dry cleaning, but don’t add more options than that. Put away what’s in your Keep pile at the end of each day and throw out or recycle what’s in your Toss pile.

5. Be decisive. When in doubt, throw it out. Organizers often use the rule of thumb that if you haven’t used it/worn it/looked at it in a year, it’s time for it to go. When it comes to ornamental items or keepsakes, the other common standard is to only keep those things you really love and that give you pleasure. If that knick-knack your Aunt Marge gave you makes you cringe, it has no place in your home, regardless of the sentiment attached to it.

6. Get professional help. If the job is just too big or you need direction, consider hiring a professional organizer. They can give you an overall strategy or guide you through the process. Do a local search for “Certified Professional Organizers,” if you don’t have a referral for a professional.

Going through our possessions and ridding ourselves of things that no longer fit our lives is a process we can all benefit from. You may find that going through this process with your loved one will be a positive and rewarding experience for both of you. And you may just find you are motivated to do it for yourself as well!

—By Caren Parnes
Contributor for The Senior’s Choice 

Get support for your loved ones

Recipe of the Month: Springtime Breakfast Casserole

This clean-eating springtime breakfast casserole is a perfect, freezer-friendly meal that the whole family can enjoy!
It's also easy to adjust, depending on your dietary preferences: you could brown the meat in broth instead of oil, for example, or swap out some whole eggs for extra egg whites.
Up the veggie content by adding a handful of spinach or chopped asparagus or broccoli to the dish, too -- the sky's the limit!

Click here for the recipe

Video: Life Lessons from 100-Year-Olds

What are the secrets of living past 100 years old?
This video features several centenarians who share their beautiful stories!
"It's just that you keep going... It's only a number. A hundred and one is only a number... and you live for the day."

Click here to watch the video now

The Power of Touch in Elder Caregiving

We're Wired to Give and Receive Touch

Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, says that, as a species, humans are hardwired to give and receive touch and to benefit from it. He describes how touch triggers the activation of the orbitofrontal cortex and the release of oxytocin and endorphins, the "biological platforms of social connection." He points to studies that show that massage has the same impact as the antidepressant Prozac, increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin while reducing stress hormone levels.

Touch Can Reduce Symptoms of Illness

Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami School of Medicine, says studies show that touch reduces pain, especially following strokes, and lowers blood pressure. A study she conducted evaluating the effectiveness of massage found significant decreases in Parkinson's tremors. Massage therapy also decreased pacing, wandering, and combative behavior, symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease. Field says that many elderly patients are deprived of touch, having lost spouses, and "a lot of illnesses of the elderly may relate to their being touch deprived."

A 2012 study in Supportive Care in Cancer showed that cancer patients, after being given a massage by their caregivers, reported reductions in pain, stress, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
"When you reduce stress and provide relaxation, all the symptoms are reduced," says William Collinge, an author of the study. Massages also empower caregivers by providing them with a concrete way to help their loved ones, says Collinge. 

How to Provide the Best Use of Touch When Caregiving

Touch can be more difficult when adult children need to parent their parents, assisting with dressing them or taking them to the bathroom. Judy Berry suggests validating emotions on both ends, saying something like, "I know this is uncomfortable for both of us, but we'll get through this together." It’s important to recognize that not everybody is up for these tasks, and adult children should ask for help when it becomes insurmountable.

Ask permission. Say, "Can I give you a hug?" That gives the senior a sense of control and doesn't violate their personal space, says Berry. Then, read their body language along the way to make sure they're enjoying the experience.

Assess the senior’s nature. Some are more receptive to touch than others. Look for signs. If they recoil when you reach for their hand, don't be insistent.

Keep it simple. The act of touch need not involve a professional-caliber massage. It can be as basic as giving a hand massage with scented lotion, says Drew.

Be passive, not aggressive. Drew suggests extending your hand and letting them take it, instead of grabbing theirs. Look them in the eye. Approach them from the front instead of behind. "All of those things help to respect the other person and let them know that they're going to be encountering you," she says.

By Julie Halpert
Reprinted with permission via The Senior's Choice

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Joke of the Month

When a woman came into a 
clinic for an MRI, she was put into the machine by an 
attractive, young technician.
Sometime later, when the examination 
was over, she was helped out of the machine by a far older man.
"Goodness," she remarked, "How long was 
I in there for?"

Source: https://www.rd.com/jokes/old-age/
Comforts of Home - Care
P: 204.949.3234 | F: 204.949.9049 | E: info@cohcinc.com | W: ComfortsOfHomeCare.ca
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