If you think your loved one may be struggling, it is advisable to be proactive and help facilitate inevitable lifestyle transitions. Here are 6 signs to help your family and loved ones identify whether a senior needs help at home or not.
With continuous medical breakthroughs, we are living longer than before. This is a snapshot of what Hong Kong’s elderly demographic will look like in 20 years’ time.
When your loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may feel unsure about what exactly you can do to help. Cancer is at once universally relatable and incredibly specific, as every cancer patient may approach his/her diagnosis differently. Though there are no hard and fast rules, below are some suggestions on how you can show your support and love:
1. Be a treatment buddy
The treatment process is new to your loved one. Staying with him/her during the process as an emotional support may help him/her overcome the process with more confidence and comfort. For example, you can accompany your loved one to doctor visits or keep track of post-treatment instructions, such as diet or exercise restrictions.
2. Offer companionship
As your loved one may need to undergo many grueling treatments, he/she may become increasingly fatigued and isolated from society. You can offer your loved one to take walks together, enjoy some teatime or shopping together, or simply sit together and relax. The most important thing is to remind him/her that he/she is not alone.
3. Offer childcare
If your loved one has children, he/she may not have the energy or time to give their children the care and attention needed in this trying time for the family. If you can offer to take care of the children, it can both comfort both the loved one and the children, and also allow the loved one to stay focused on getting healthier.
4. Help with mood changes
A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Both the emotional toil and also the treatment therapy itself can cause mood changes. According to NCCN (n.d.), most cancer treatments can cause adverse effects on the patient's mental health manifesting as depression, anxiety or memory impairment. You can help your loved one identify and manage the mood changes by supporting their physical and mental health needs.
5. Be involved in decision making process
Cancer treatment may require many adjustments and changes, such as new medications or treatments. Your loved one may need you, alongside the doctor, to help inform his/her decision. Though the Internet has a wide variety of information, it may be unreliable or inapplicable. It is important to be involved in the decision-making process to help your loved one make the most suitable decisions.
Though you cannot directly cure your loved one, you can help him/her overcome the challenges of diagnosis and treatment. Cancer is incredibly specific in how your loved one approaches this incurable condition, but also universally relatable as a condition requiring unconditional love and support.
Photo by Lotte Meijer on Unsplash
By Helen So, Musicologist
As a musicologist, I had always been an avid concert-goer. Since my return back to Hong Kong after years of being abroad, I started noticing a trend that had never caught my attention before – a change, or perhaps the hopeful beginnings of a paradigm shift. For almost every concert since my return, I had found it super heart-warming to see so many heads of grey and white dotted across the auditorium.
Indeed, a glance at the history of music in medicine highlights the multifarious range of studies devoted to the efficacy of music as a therapeutic means to benefit physical and mental health (Gouk 2000; Horden 2000.) This is to say science has proven that music therapy and music intervention works. In the particular case of elders with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) for instance, the fact is that music therapy and music intervention practices can alleviate the dejecting and irreversible conditions that AD victims undergo. Such is achieved through ‘optimizing their quality of life and improving their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellbeing.’
Broad ‘Effects’ of music therapy and music intervention
Memory Recall is a most well-known ‘means’ that makes music therapy and music intervention practices ‘effective’
Tips for you as a caregiver:
Caregivers are encouraged to regularly incorporate music into the lives of their loved ones. If you have not enrolled your loved ones to a registered music therapist (RMT) yet, do not fret! Because as a first step you can pre-select a playlist of familiar tunes for your loved ones and experiment through music engagement to see if they experience some of the above effects! Chances are it’s likely! **
It is important to select songs that are APPROPRIATE to each individual. In my experience, the songs popular during their formative years have proved to be effective in most cases. Every individual has their own unique history and so as caregiver you’d have to do some digging and researching into events of their past! I have compiled a couple songs that have generally garnered positive responses across the elders demographic within the Hong Kong context for reference:
**(Disclaimer: this is not at all in suggestion that music intervention and music therapy (MT) are the same. Music intervention does not involve a professionally-qualified RMT where MT does. MT has its merits as a professional service, with a professional RMT offering tailor-specific assistance to each individual, whose progress/ improvements are professionally recorded and assessed.)
Advantages of home care
What types of home care?
Home care is a highly personalized service, ranging from short-term assistance, to long-term care at home.
Non-medical home care includes personal and companionship care. A professional caregiver will help with basic needs including every day activities such as bathing and dressing, toileting, feeding, engaging in stimulating activities, and assisting with medication reminders.
Medical home care includes skilled nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and dietitian consultation, all conducted by licensed medical professionals.
As your parents get older, you will notice that they might require more help with simple activities in their daily lives. Surveys have shown that 90% of seniors want to stay at home for as long as possible, in a familiar and comfortable environment, rather than moving into a nursing home. That’s when in-home care can help your family and your loved one.
Here are 6 signs that you need in-home care services:
1. Increased forgetfulness
Sometimes we may forget where we put our wallet at home, but it doesn’t happen to us frequently. When your parents start losing memory and can’t remember things in an obvious pattern, or if they miss important appointments, or constantly forget to take their prescribed medication, it is time to consider home care services.
2. Poor hygiene and living environment
If your loved one has unpleasant body odor and does not bathe regularly, this is something that needs to be addressed in your family. Environment and living conditions not being properly upkeeped also shows that your loved one might need additional support.
3. Significant weight loss and weight gain
Sudden weight loss or weight gain is an important sign for your parents, especially among the elderly. Weight loss is mainly caused by malignancy, nonmalignant gastrointestinal disease and psychiatric conditions. Moreover, depression, loss of interest in food with poor nutrition and food choices will also affect body weight.
4. Mood and behavior changes
If your loved one has sudden behavior or personality changes and extreme mood swings, this is something important to look out for. This kind of change is often associated with taking increased dosage of medication, a loss of a spouse or loved one, or progression of a severe chronic illness.
5. Loneliness and depression
If you notice that your loved one is sleeping throughout the day and is not motivated with their regular daily activities or hobbies and interests, this is a sign that you need in-home help.
6. Decreased mobility
You may notice that your parents may have increased difficulty in walking or balancing. Another red flag is if your loved one has unexplained bruises or injuries.