There may not be a magic recipe for aging well. Even so, getting key ingredients right can certainly help. When Japan’s Kane Tanaka passed away at 119 this spring, she was the second oldest person ever recorded. Kane’s secret? Keeping her mind and body engaged by doing math, and remaining curious.
That balanced approach to staying active is a common theme among seniors in Japan, where life and health expectancy are longer than anywhere else on the planet. Case in point: after marrying a rice shop owner at the age of 19, Kane continued to work in the family shop until finally retiring—at age 103.
Closer to home, Ontario seniors have long been encouraged to embrace a similarly active approach to enjoying life in later years. Priorities like staying physically active and remaining socially engaged are especially important for seniors hoping to live well, longer, at home. A balanced and comprehensive approach to home care can ensure folks who prefer to live autonomously have the right support to embrace the kinds of activities that foster long, happy lives.
Finding that perfect home care fit can sometimes feel daunting. In Toronto alone, adults 65 and up account for almost 16% of the city’s population. There are now more seniors in Toronto than children under the age of 15. That proportion is expected to increase to 21% by 2041. With so many families searching for the best home care solution for a senior, finding a truly balanced and holistic caregiving approach isn’t always easy.
At Home Care Assistance Toronto, we take some of the guess work out of that process by talking families through our signature approach to a Balanced Care Method. We encourage families to ask plenty of specific questions about how we’ll deliver care.
If you’re on a similar journey and assessing potential caregivers, consider asking these four questions early in the dialogue can help make sure everyone’s aligned on the meaning of holistic care:
- How will you incorporate physical activity into daily life?
Here in Ontario, adults over aged 65 are encouraged to get 150 minutes of physical activity every week. That will look incredibly different from one senior to the next. Whether that activity comes in the form of a walk around the block or some regular chair aerobics, seniors and caregivers should be working together to incorporate physical activity that’s safe, secure and appropriate for a given individual. Get a sense of how the caregivers you’re considering will proactively encourage your loved one to move—and keep moving—as they go about their days together.
- What kind of dietary support can you provide? We are what we eat. The right meal planning offer seniors a ton of nutritional value. In fact, options like the MIND or Mediterranean diets have even been shown to boost brain health in key ways. But, families aiming to monitor a senior loved one’s diet from afar may find it tricky to ensure those foods are high in fibre, low in protein, and rich in fruits and vegetables. Get specific with caregivers to understand how they’ll partner with you to help your loved one get all the nutrients they need. Also key? Dig into the ways caregivers will communicate about nutrition. The best care plans always include clearly outlined channels for two-way dialogue.
- How will you focus on keeping their mind sharp? Scrabble, puzzles, word searches and cards all require seniors to flex their cognitive muscles. Building games or even online activities into a daily routine is an easy way to ensure folks are continuously honing cognitive abilities. Ask caregivers how they’ve encouraged other clients to keep their brains active before. Talk about the activities and hobbies your loved one has always enjoyed, and assess the caregiver’s ability to deliver on those fronts.
- Can we count on you to foster social connectedness, a calm presence and a sense of purpose? Social ties are harder to maintain as we age. But that doesn’t mean they lose their value. Time and time again, research has shown that social connectedness promotes overall wellness and good health among seniors. The caregiver you choose has a big part to play here. From planning a simple trip a nearby community event or museum, to grabbing supplies for some holiday decorations: the best caregivers will get to know a client, and find ways to connect.
What’s the net-net?
Good health is integrated. It links mental and physical wellbeing through balanced care with a singularly important goal: live long and well at home.