Last week, I met someone in a coffee shop that had worked for fifteen years at a retirement home for the elderly. We had an enjoyable conversation about how several people would come in and request volunteer work or be searching for volunteer services in his area. I could relate to his experience, being affiliated with a non-profit is very rewarding because it enables me to share happiness with others.
Volunteers for the elderly come from all over the planet, each with a different motive or reason behind their desire to care for the elderly. Each is just as important as the next, no matter what sector the volunteer work is in.The man explained to me how one of the most rewarding parts of his job was not just caring for the elderly, but also encouraging others to live more rewarding lives by helping them volunteer for seniors.
Caregiving services for the elderly are in high demand these days, but we believe that the ones supported by volunteers will continue to be the most cherished and rewarding available.When Elder Helpers connects the elderly with our volunteers, the seniors may often will ask if it is necessary to pay them or give them tips. People who have seen both the volunteer side and the elder side of care know that our volunteers are sometimes being helped just as much as the elderly.
They receive an emotionally rewarding experience, that cannot be bought or sold on any market. People in the elder care sector understand that volunteering for the elderly has its rewards and that community service in general is making the world a better place to live and work. By donating your time to help the elderly or volunteering a few hours a week you are contributing to bring our society into a better tomorrow.
It may seem like just one relationship, but it is setting an example for others in your community. Volunteering for the elderly is making progress to change the way that elder care services are operated forever. You are not just helping an elder to live happier and healthier, you are also supporting an organization that is revolutionizing the way elders receive care.
Whether you are doing volunteer work at a retirement community, doing general community service or supporting Elder Helpers you are working with us to make the world a better place. As an elder, your affiliation with our program allows us to find help for seniors in your community. If you are a volunteer, your contribution is the heart of our program and providing essential services for seniors.
What starts as a simple conversation in a coffee shop, develops into ideas that help change the world. With technology, communities and volunteers we can work together to achieve much more than we can alone. Remember that it all begins with an idea, made into a reality by working together. Volunteering for the elderly has helped us to achieve this for volunteers, the elderly and the world.
We presented earlier on a post about caring for the elderly, the top devices for seniors. While many elders do not enjoy using technology, it helps to simplify other elders’ lives or enables them to overcome challenges. If the senior does not want to adopt technology, do not force them to use it. When sharing activities with seniors, you may introduce technology to them, but some people still prefer methods that are more familiar. The IPad is one of the devices presented, that may be enjoyed by some seniors.
The IPad is becoming a popular device with many seniors because of its simplicity and functionality. Some seniors use it as reading device to enlarge the text of their favorite books, others watch television programs with headphones to help with hearing problems. Here are some of the top IPad apps for seniors:
ABC: The television network ABC has many programs that are available on the IPad application.
Netflix: This is only available for people who have a subscription to the Netflix service, enabling the user to access a limited availability of movies instantly on the IPad.
NPR: Has music, news and videos from National Public Radio (NPR), enabling the senior to read articles and access public radio stations in the United States.
iBooks: Turns the IPad into a E-Reader, enabling seniors to purchase and read books instantly by downloading them from their device. Classic books by authors like Herman Melville, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen are usually accessible at no cost.
Google Earth: An interactive world map that enables anyone to zoom in or out to just about anywhere on the planet using satellite imagery. It is like having a powerful and easy to use telescope in space.
Zinio: Provides articles from top magazines for free. The magazine publishers want to distribute free articles to interest the reader to buy them, but seniors can still enjoy a variety of great articles at no cost.
The Weather Channel: Has information on local weather including daily temperatures, forecasts and even weather radars to detect potential storms.
Epicurious: Enables seniors to search for recipes and their ingredients. It also helps them to make a shopping list and find recipes for foods that they already enjoy. Cooking is a great activity for volunteer caregivers and seniors to enjoy.
Pandora: Has stations for many genres of music that also introduces seniors to new music artists.
What’s the recipe for success when it comes to helping your elderly charge or loved one stay active in their nursing home? Try a dash of creativity, a pinch of health benefits, and a mix of the following 7 (fun!) ideas:
Gentle Yoga: Gentle yoga or chair yoga incorporates relaxation and meditation with gentle flowing movements and stretches. This mindfulness practice is great for seniors in nursing homes and is proven to help boost overall mood, improve blood circulation, alleviate back and joint pain, and even combat cognitive decline.
Board Games: Board games, card games, and puzzles are favorites of seniors, including Chess, Checkers, Rummicub, Pictionary, and Backgammon. Mentally challenging games and puzzles not only fight memory loss, but they help residents practice problem-solving and interact with others socially.
Community Gardening: Get residents in on the beauty and enjoyment of maintaining the grounds by having flower planting or watering projects where they can take part in the work. Not only is getting outside in the sun beneficial for their health and wellbeing, but actively taking part in an activity (like planting or watering flowers at the entrance of the facility), which also benefits others, is fulfilling and confidence-building.
Spa Day: Soothe the senses with a simulated spa day that involves listening to peaceful and meditative music, aromatherapy with fragrant candles, and mini hand, foot or head massages by volunteers or staff. Sensory activities like this are great for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s and can foster peace, relieve stress and boost positive moods.
Low-impact Games: Fun physical games that involve moderate activity are great for elderly residents. Target throwing can be done sitting down or standing up – simply place a large circular target on the ground with colored areas that correspond to point levels, and have residents take turns tossing bean bags onto the target to get points.
Another FUN, heart-pumping, game is Paddle Balloons. Quickly construct paper paddles out of large popsicle sticks and paper plates, and have residents use them to hit blown up balloons back and forth to one another.
Karaoke Night: Really hit the nostalgic notes with a karaoke night filled with old standards and classic hits residents will love hearing again and again. Music can be particularly positive for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s – songs evoke emotions and memories, and singing with others is engaging and stimulates brain activity.
Digital Puzzles: For elderly residents with arthritis or who have some visual impairment, playing cards or handling small board game pieces can be difficult. A digital alternative for the games and puzzles they love might just be the answer instead. Free games like Sudoku and Scrabble can be downloaded to a computer or tablet, giving players the option to enlarge the screen and play with the simple click of a mouse or tap of their finger.
Don’t forget the importance of staying active. Find ways to keep your loved one busy to really reap the rewards. Keeping busy as we age not only improves our physical health but mental health as well. You’ll see that providing challenges and activities each day stimulates the mind and leads to happier (healthier) aging.
If you don’t use it…you’ll lose it!
Written bye Joe Fleming
It is called many things, from remote caregiving to long distance caring or caring from afar, but essentially if it takes you an hour or more to travel from where you live to the older person you want to look after, then you can consider yourself a long-distance caregiver.
Tip 1: Look for the signs
When you live further away, you may have to look more closely for any signs that additional care and support is needed. Our elderly loved ones don’t want to burden us with any worries and they obviously want to hold on to their independence for as long as they can. But how can we really help them if we aren’t there physically everyday to see for ourselves how they are coping alone?
Initially, phone calls at specific times are an easy way to do this without causing offence. Cooking a meal, for example, can be one of the first everyday activities that become physically or emotionally too draining for an elderly relative to do. So calling at lunch time or dinner time and casually asking what they’re cooking for tea can give you an insight into how they’re looking after themselves from a nutritional point of view.
Tip 2: Provide emotional support
There can be feelings of guilt and sadness for family and caregivers who live far from an older person. And this is fuelled further when there are other family members who live closer and are therefore shouldering more of the caregiving.
A good workaround for this is to yourself more as an emotional support and online support service. Long distance help can still do many of the admin tasks required in looking after someone, because so many organisations and government services are now available online, if not by telephone. You can help with researching local services, ordering medicines or food shopping or managing banking and benefits.
You can also provide respite to those living closer, even if you can’t be there in person. Simply providing a listening ear to vent any difficulties or negative feelings they’re experiencing can really help them to keep going, without of course getting defensive or feeling worse yourself. Offering them appreciation and reassurance is as important as physical assistance, although you could also provide that respite care if you can travel.
Ultimately it all relies on good communication and clear delegation of tasks between the family or team of people who want to work together to care.
Tip 3: Know your strengths and set limits
When it comes to delegating the tasks, it’s a good idea to sit down together, or organise a group chat online or by phone, with the primary aim of just thinking through who is good at what aspects of the caring.
That’s because there is often the propensity to assign a role – such as grocery shopping, for example – to a young family member or external care provider, when they don’t cook or know what the elderly person likes to eat. They simply do the job because they live closest to the supermarket. In reality, this role would be best suited to someone who knows the person well and finds a food shop easy to do. Plus, these kinds of tasks can be easily done from afar, online.
Setting personal limits is also important, as is allowing the discussions on roles to change over time.
Older members of the caregiving group may be “sandwich caregivers”, i.e. they have support roles for elderly parents and younger children of their own. They may also experience physical or mental ailments themselves, and so it’s important to bear in mind the need for personal care as well as wanting to help care for others.
As a long-distance carer you may hope to, even intend, to travel perhaps more often than you eventually end up being able to, for financial reasons or otherwise. Try to foresee what you can in your planning but also know that it’s ok to rethink the support you can give if your circumstances change over time. Often, caring for an older relative is a long journey, and your life and needs will change as much as theirs do.
Tip 4: Make the most of your visits
When you do get precious time together, it is of course important to spend that quality time just enjoying each other’s company, perhaps giving other carers and family members a rest and relishing the opportunity to really help out, person.
However there is more to be gained from such a visit, so don’t waste the opportunity. Discreetly look around the house and watch your older loved one as they go about their day. You’re looking for signs that they are struggling with anything new that you weren’t aware of. This is particularly important as months and years pass by, because their support needs will change with time. Potential hazards can appear in the home, with potential to fall or slip, that can be easily fixed with minor home improvements.
Similarly, a visit is a great time to introduce yourself to the other people in the wider caring team from the neighbours to the doctor and any external care providers. You can learn a lot from conversations with people who interact daily with your loved one and if nothing else, this can reassure you that you aren’t missing anything important while you are far away.
Tip 5: Invest when caregiving needs grow
There will inevitably come a point when it becomes obvious that more care is needed, and hopefully you and the caregiving team will spot these signs before an accident occurs.
One of the first issues is usually mobility-related, and yet there simple home improvements that can make the living situation instantly more manageable, giving you as carers more time and more importantly, buying the elderly person more freedom and time living in their own home.
Ramps and hand rails on drive ways and front doors are easy to install, as are larger modifications such as stairlifts. Modern stairlift designs can cope with even the most unusual stairwells. They are designed for safety, tilting to help people get on and off the seat, and their generators mean even a power cut won’t stop them functioning. It can give real peace of mind to long-distance carers and a newfound mobility to the elderly person who wants to remain in their home.
If you still feel you need more advice with remote caregiving and the challenges it brings, seek out the professional advice that exists from many of the charitable organisations and government groups dedicated to issues of ageing and the elderly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you seek to give help yourself
For more Info visit Olympic Lifts’ website
Written by Laura Fulton