HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Finding The Best Care For Our Parents

Choosing the best care for an aging parent can be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll have to make. But knowing what questions to ask and what to look for can make the process easier, says Nina Hundtermark, who is a Marketing Manager with Verve Senior Living. Nina is in regular contact with people who are facing this decision and she also knows from personal experience that it can be tough.

A few months after placing her mother in a retirement home, she realized her mother’s dementia had progressed to the point where she needed to be in a nursing home. 

“I had her with me for five days and I knew after day one she didn’t belong in a retirement home. Unless you spend some time with them, they can hide it and hold it together,” said Nina.
Before considering retirement home living, there are numerous home support options to choose from, including Home Instead, Nurse Next Door and the Local Health Integration Network. They can provide a Personal Support Worker to help with bathing, dressing, feeding and getting someone to an appointment as well as engaging their clients in activities.

But how do you know when home care isn’t enough? As Nina learned first-hand, it’s not enough to simply talk to one’s parent. She suggests you check their fridge and cupboards to make sure they have nutritious food, watch how often they change their clothes, and try and see if they’re getting their nails trimmed. If they’re making excuses for not going out, it may be because they’re depressed from being alone too much. 

“Watch for things like if they start to lose weight or if they’re not taking care of themselves. There can be very subtle signs, like they may be nervous talking to others because they’re getting forgetful,” said Nina.

The benefit of a retirement home is that they offer meals, companionship, laundry service, exercise programs, weekly housekeeping, and other services under one roof. To begin your search, Nina suggests you make a list of things you want, like an indoor pool, balcony or kitchen to bake in, then narrow the choice in homes down to two.

Take a tour of them and ask to stay for dinner and talk to the residents. Watch to see if the servers are engaged, if the food is hot and how people are greeted at the door. 
“Small things can make a big difference,” said Nina.

Nina has noticed that many people start perking up after they’ve moved into a retirement home because they’re getting balanced meals and more social interaction. However, the deciding factor is in the senior’s attitude.

“If they’re not open to moving, it’s a losing battle because you know they’re not going to assimilate when they get in there.”

However, with patience and the help of a caring staff, retirement homes can definitely provide peace of mind to today’s busy families who are often trying to juggle work with caring for their kids as well as aging parents. Fortunately there are many options available in the local area.

Home Instead Senior Care

Nurse Next Door

Central Local Health Integration Network

Chartwell – Hollandview Trail, Aurora

Revera – The Renoir, Newmarket

Amica – Newmarket

Chartwell – Oak Ridges

Verve – The Roxborough, Newmarket

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