Seasons Alberta Magazine

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We do our best at Seasons to encourage people to have the conversation early, even before these signs present themselves. This way, you’ll be prepared and ready to take the next steps as they come with an informed and willing loved one. Hopefully, both parties will be on the same page in terms of what the future holds, adding to overall peace of mind and a sense of shared understanding. That said, many wonder how to bring up the topic. How do I have “the talk” about alternative living arrangements with an aging parent or loved one? Maribeth suggests starting the conversation with something small such as asking them their feelings about living at home on their own: > When home alone, do they feel safe and secure or worried and anxious? > How are they managing home maintenance? Is help needed to cut grass or shovel? > Do they have enough groceries for the week? It could be that you’re beginning to notice subtle changes in their routine, like wanting to drive less or calling more frequently. These could be conversation starters too. Signs like these could indicate that bigger ones are on their way, making this a good time and opportunity to sit down and have a genuine discussion. “It helps to be open and honest. Sometimes aging adults don’t realize the extent of the changes happening around them until they’re highlighted and discussed with someone who cares about their wellbeing. They get used to functioning as they are,” says Maribeth. “Patience is also important. This isn’t a transition that happens overnight unless it’s a ‘crisis-type’ of scenario which will surely accelerate that timeline. Objections will arise, many say they aren’t ready—but what does ‘ready’ really look like? It can be a journey and a process to get to the final decision.” The truth is, several long-standing myths that exist around senior living options continue to influence people’s most common concerns and objections, yet they simply aren’t accurate. For

example, the idea that once in a retirement home, residents lose all of their independence. Many people make the move to a retirement community without needing the full complement of supportive services that are offered. Highly independent seniors decide to move for a variety of reasons. It could be that they are tired of household chores, they want access to a social calendar and healthy meals, or enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing someone is always there if you need them. Other people move to a retirement setting because they desire the care and support we can provide. Oftentimes, independence can increase after a move. When someone has support with nutritious meals, access to social programs, regular fitness classes, and a health and wellness team to oversee their wellbeing, they can lead happier and healthier lives. “After the initial conversation, the first step I would take would be to go explore your options. Ask your parents if any of their friends are living in a retirement community. If so, then go visit them, see how you feel when you walk in, take a tour, get to know the people there. This will give you and your loved ones a better idea of what life can hold in a retirement home. They aren’t nursing homes or long-term care facilities as many imagine,” continues Maribeth. As options become informed decisions and residents move in, the transition comes with freedom from worry and a sense of relief, often a healthier and happier parent, and more time to spend simply enjoying each other's company. “Seasons team members understand the weight of this decision and want to make the process as comfortable and pleasant as they can for new residents and their families,” says Maribeth. Know the signs: Are you experiencing caregiver burnout? Caregiver burnout is a heightened state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude toward required and/or expected care tasks. Burnout occurs when primary caregivers don’t get the help they need, or they try to do more than they can handle, which can

result in feelings of increased fatigue, anxiety and, depression. Some may also experience feelings of guilt when they spend time on themselves rather than spending all of their time taking care of a loved one. Symptoms: > Withdrawal from friends and family > Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities > Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless > Changes in appetite, weight, or both > Changes in sleep patterns > Getting sick more often > Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself, or the person for whom you are caring > Emotional and physical exhaustion

> Excessive use of alcohol and/or sleep medications > Irritability www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/caregiver- recognizing-burnout In this situation, Maribeth adds, “We know that something has to give eventually, either for the safety of the person receiving the care or for the caregiver’s wellbeing. Many people who are struggling to manage these tasks still work full-time jobs with busy schedules and families of their own. There should be no shame or feelings of guilt in seeking out and accepting help if you need it.” If you believe you may be suffering from caregiver burnout, speak with a trusted medical professional for personalized advice.

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