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Winter is a very difficult time for the elderly and their caregivers. In fact, it is during the Christmas holiday period that older people are most at risk of falling ill or having an accident, yet this is also a period during which they can be lonely due to reduced mobility, health conditions that preventing them from travelling, or having no direct relatives to turn to. 

Elderly loneliness at Christmas

This is why it's important to ensure that you pay particular attention to the elderly during this holiday period, whether you are a caregiver, a family member, or simply a friend.

So how can you prevent loneliness of the elderly and take care of them? In this blog post, we have put together some advice for carers to help reduce the risk of accidents and bad health during this time of the year, to allow this period to be merry for all.

Accounting for reduced mobility

Often, older people being cared for do not need your help too much, are quite independent and very active. By all accounts, they’re almost completely self-sufficient.  

Come Christmas time, this can change drastically. 

One of the biggest problems the elderly can face during Christmas is mobility. Whether it’s frosty walkways or slippery paves, these are big dangers for the elderly which reduces their mobility and independence, making it a lot more challenging for them to run errands, visit relatives or friends, or just exercise. From the caregiver's perspective, this risk of injury as well as reduced independence can cause a lot of stress and worry. 

Besides the actual risk of slipping or falling, there’s the fear of having a fall, causing older people to not be as confident when going out or even putting off doing so, which can then sometimes lead to malnourishment or loneliness. This is often because they would know of friends who have had bad falls, and a rational fear of being injured. 

Making sure your loved ones have appropriate footwear is a good start. Nothing heavy like hiking boots but preferably walking shoes or good trainers that will help give their feet traction when on slippery or icy grounds. If your loved one uses a walking frame, that will certainly give them more support, if they don’t, recommend that for the Christmas period they start using a walking stick to enhance their stability. 

If you know that your loved one’s drive or pavement does get frosty during cold weather, next time you visit them, salt or sand their drive to minimise the risks and encourage them to go out.

Ensuring that older people keep warm

Keeping warm is an important concern for the elderly, as catching a cold this time of year could lead to pneumonia or other illnesses that could be life threatening due to weaker immune systems. It is also one of caregivers’ biggest concerns, especially as they can’t be with them constantly. 

One piece of advice is to make sure your loved ones wear warm clothes and possibly heating. 
Take them on a shopping trip to buy some suitable clothes for the winter. It is also worth thinking about getting windproof and waterproof items to protect them from the winter weather.

Also ensure you check that their central heating is working as they probably wouldn’t go through the process of hiring a repairman, whom may also be short-staffed over Christmas.

Visiting and checking up regularly

Christmas is the busiest time of the year and your loved ones could feel, as you’re trying to get everything ready and organised, isolated and forgotten. Caregivers experience this struggle to finding time every year, trying to balance Christmas plans and looking after their loved ones. During such a festive period, loneliness and isolation can be felt more intensely, yet by not wanting to “burden” anyone, older people might restrain from reaching out if they do.

Regular phone calls can really help prevent such a feeling, and setting them up with a basic tablet to be able to video call them can truly help them feel included if they can’t be with you. The latter can be more challenging, but it can really reassure them and avoid isolation. 

If you are unable to go visit someone you usually care for throughout the year during the Christmas holidays, you could look at home care services such as social companionship. It is a type of care service providing a companion, friend and carer to your loved one. This type of home care service enables your loved one to remain fully independent, whilst also reassuring you that they are well and not alone.

For more information about the different home care services available from Sova Healthcare, and to further discuss your needs and requirements, you can download our brochure or get in touch with a member of our friendly team.
Alzheimer's Care

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of Dementia can impact every aspect of a carer's daily life. As Alzheimer’s develops, caregivers will be faced with tests of stamina, problem solving, and resiliency.

Some of the most common situations caregivers face can be truly heart breaking and can sometimes be very difficult to deal with for loved ones and friends.

Alzheimer’s disease not only impacts the daily life of the person affected by it, but is also a very challenging disease to care for, yet these challenges caregivers are faced with on a daily basis are often overlooked, notably as most research and studies aim to focus on the disease itself rather than the ways in which it can be made more bearable. Whilst science is making groundbreaking progress towards finding ways to prevent it, and even maybe a cure one day, carers and sufferers still have to deal with the disease every day.

Nowadays, many care systems are available for sufferers to help them remain comfortable, yet the challenges faced by caregivers in providing them with the best support are often overlooked.

Although every client is different and unique, caregivers often encounter similar situations, which can be made more tolerable if dealt with in certain ways, based on discussions and expert advice from some professional Alzheimer's carers.
 

1. If the person you care for no longer recognises you


If someone suffers from Alzheimer’s, there might come a day when they can no longer recognise or acknowledge you, which will most likely be one of the most heartbreaking experiences you could be faced with, which is why it is even often considered one of the hardest consequences or most challenging symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. In such situation, it is important to remember that as hard as it is, the person suffering is not aware of this lack of recognition, and that they are in no pain, which is often a carer’s primary concern.

How can you help?

Try and visit the person you care for as much as you can: If the person suffering from Alzheimer’s is living in a care facility, it’s important to visit them frequently. Family members might think there is no real positive impact which can come from visiting someone that doesn’t recognise you anymore, yet there are several reasons why continuing to visit does matter, including the following:
  1. The person you care for may actually unconsciously recognise you, but the disease doesn’t allow them to express this recognition.  
  2. The person may remember how often you visit, despite the fact that they might be unaware of their relationship with you.
  3. The person may enjoy having a visitor, despite the fact that he or she may not be completely aware of who you are.
  4. If the person enjoys or even acknowledges your visit, you may feel gratified you’ve given him or her comfort and support, which can help with the care of this disease.
Alternatively, if someone is cared from in their own home, the familiarity of the surrounding, and memory triggers around their house are likely to help them remember you, even if only from time to time, which is why being by their side as often as possible will help reassure and comfort them in these moments of lucidity.

2. If the person loses the ability to talk


If the person you are caring for has Alzheimer’s and become unable to verbally communicate with you, then you may feel like you can’t connect with them anymore. Although this is a common reaction, it is important to keep in mind that connecting and communicating with another person is not exclusively a verbal process. Indeed, there are several forms of nonverbal communications that can help you reach out to the person you care for, which can truly make a difference.

How can you help?

Here are three of the most supportive and empathetic non-verbal communication methods:
  1. Physical contact
  2. Smiling and making eye contact
  3. Using visual and audio aids (photos, paintings and music)

3. If it has become time to consider a care home


This is the last and perhaps one of the most painful and difficult experiences you may encounter, especially when caring for a relative. Most of the time, Alzheimer’s home care services can be sufficient, as care packages are flexible according to the client’s needs, yet if you need to involve care homes in his or her care, it can be extremely difficult, not only for that person but also for caregivers and carers, whom are often overwhelmed by a feeling of letting down the person they care for.

How can you help?

We know this can be a truly heartbreaking decision to make, which is why the best approach to this particular situation is often to discuss it and talk about it by the person it concerns, explaining the reasoning behind the decision, as well as highlighting how this will help care for their health and safety. Such decision will also affect carers personally, as often followed by a feeling of guilt, which is why it is important that you surround yourself with your loved ones, whom will in turn be able to reassure you have made the right decision.

It is important to try and keep in mind that the person you are caring for will often not be fully aware of the situation, and its gravity, which on a positive side enables them to continue enjoying meaningful moments without worrying about the future, helping them in a way avoid fear and pain, any carer’s priority. Nonetheless, trying to keep the person suffering of Alzheimer’s in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible has often proven to help stimulate their memory, and reduce their disorientation.

We are fully aware how challenging and heartbreaking this disease can be for family and friends and carers, notably in the eventuality of a passing, which is why, if you find yourself struggling to come to terms with someone’s passing, we recommend that you seek professional advice and care, to help you get through such a difficult time by providing you with the adequate support.

For more information on the Alzheimer’s care services and other home care services we offer, download our brochure, or if you wish to discuss your needs and requirements in more details, call us on 0800 688 8866 or simply get in touch with a member of our friendly team.

Home Care Services from healthcare providers can be challenging to choose from, especially when you are looking for yourself or a loved one. Not only do you need to make sure that they are able to offer the level of care that you require, but also that they allow you to live in a way which suits your lifestyle. Before signing up to a provider such as Sova Healthcare, it's important that you consider your options, and make sure that what they offer is right for you; consider asking these five questions before making your decision:

1. What is your previous experience?
You need to ascertain whether the provider has experience of caring for someone with similar circumstances to your own. Whether you require specialist services for a particular condition, such as Alzheimer's care services, or more generalised care to assist with aspects of older age, you need to make sure that they understand what you will require and have been able to previously deliver such care successfully to other customers. Sova Healthcare is able to provide a wide range of different care services, which are tailored to your needs, so you're sure to find a package to suit you.

2. What qualifications do your staff have?
A healthcare provider may have some excellent experience under their belt, but if their staff do not have the necessary qualifications and training, then they could be putting you at risk. Make sure that your healthcare provider ensures that all staff are fully qualified and screened prior to recruitment, and that they provide them with regular training, in order to maintain high standards of care. At Sova Healthcare, we take our staff's training and quality very seriously, and ensure that all staff are compliant with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Disclosed Barring Service (DBS), as well as abiding by a confidentiality agreement. We also require staff to take annual training updates to make sure that they have full understanding of basic life support and first aid, as well as other relevant health and safety matters.

3. Who would be looking after me and how will my care be delivered?
Try to find out more about the individual or group of individuals who would be looking after you, and ascertain how your care would be delivered. If you would prefer one-to-one care with a regular member of staff, then make sure your provider is able to offer this. Also, if you will be receiving care in your own home rather than in a care facility, make sure that the availability of their carers meets your requirements. If you need 24 hour care services but their staff can only provide a 12 hour service, then you will need to approach an alternative provider.

4. Can you help me to maintain my lifestyle?
Maintaining your quality of life is one of the most important aspects of receiving healthcare. Without it, you are likely to become depressed, and your well being will suffer as a result, so choosing a provider who can help you to make the most of life and carry on with your favourite pastimes is vital. At Sova Healthcare, we know how incredibly important it is to deliver more than just health services, so we provide companionship care services to not only allow our customers to have a friends as well as a carer, but also to help them to go on day trips and visit family members and loved ones.

5. Is my contract flexible if my circumstances change?
As we all know, health can be unpredictable at times, so it's essential that your provider allows a degree of flexibility with your healthcare plan. Whether you no longer need health care, or need to change your care package down the line, you should always have full control over the service you receive. Your provider should also be able to give you a detailed breakdown of all costs associated with your care up front, along with any payment options, so there aren't any nasty surprises down the line.

We hope that these questions have helped to give you a better understanding of some of the more important aspects of choosing a healthcare service. Sova Healthcare is dedicated to delivering the very highest standards of service with the personal touch that very few other providers can match. If you'd like to find out more about our care services, please visit our FAQ page, give us a call on 0800 688 8866 or contact us for more information.
Old age home care

Choosing the right care option for you or your loved one can be a difficult decision. When we become reliant on assistance from others, it can be hard to imagine how it would be possible to remain in our own homes, but here at Sova Healthcare we believe that every client should have the right to stay in familiar surroundings. Here are five reasons why you should consider home care over a care home:
  1. Surroundings
    One of the main advantages of home care is the fact that you will be staying in an environment that's familiar to you. A change of location can be stressful at the best of times, but it can hit us particularly hard when we are feeling vulnerable or unwell. By staying in your own home you will be surrounded by the people and the things that you know and love best, and your wellbeing is likely to reap the rewards.

  2. Funding
    Surprisingly enough, it is often cheaper to be cared for in your own home than in a care home, as you do not have to pay for accommodation costs on top of your care. You may also be eligible for funding from your local authority for some or all of the expense. You can find out more about available finance options on our Funding page.

  3. Attention
    When you are cared for in your own home, you will have your own dedicated carer. This means that you won't have to worry about competing for attention from busy care home staff, and your needs will be cared for one-on-one by a regular provider who will get to know you and your requirements very closely.

  4. Lifestyle
    Becoming reliant on a carer doesn't mean that life as you know it is over. When you are cared for at home, you are much more likely to be able to retain some independence, and as part of our social companionship service, our carers can even accompany you on trips to visit friends and relatives away from home.

  5. Food
    Mealtimes can be a very personal occasion; everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to food, but unfortunately, care homes are often too busy to cater to individual tastes. When you are cared for at home by one of our highly trained members of staff, you will be able to discuss with your carer what you would like to eat and when you would like to eat it, giving you total control.
Our homes are so much more than bricks and mortar. They have immeasurable sentimental value to us, and by staying in your own home, you can avoid a lot of unwanted upheaval, making the transition into healthcare as smooth as possible.

At Sova Healthcare, we provide more than just healthcare services. Our domiciliary carers can assist with a variety of household chores, including cooking and cleaning, while providing you with assistance for dressing, bathing, medical administration and more. If you would like to find out more about the home care services that Sova can offer you, please visit our care services page, or contact us for more information.
Winter weather

With the cold weather now well and truly upon us, and winter just around the corner, it's normal to feel concerned about your loved ones, particularly any elderly friends or relatives who may be living on their own through these chilly months. Although winter-related mortality fell in 2013/14, there were still over 18,000 preventable deaths in England and Wales alone, with the most vulnerable group being those aged 75 and over. So what can you do to help your loved ones to get through this time safely? 

Check up on them regularly
The most important thing is to keep in contact with them regularly - ideally you should visit them in person, but if this is not practical, a daily phone call to check in with them and make sure that they have everything they need will help give you peace of mind, as well as bringing them the comfort of knowing that someone is looking out for them. 

Make sure they stay warm safely 
Speak to them about their heating and make sure their thermostat is set to an adequate temperature. It should be around 21oC in living rooms; bedrooms can go down to 18oC, but electric blankets or hot water bottles can also be used to boost temperature. You should also make sure that they have sufficient winter clothing and blankets. If you have any concern regarding their heating system, arrange for a qualified engineer to assess it. If they use gas, make sure that a carbon monoxide alarm has been fitted and that they know to leave air vents unblocked. 

If you have any concern about how your loved one will pay for heating during the winter, you can find out about the help available for winter fuel payments at Age UK.

Encourage them to stay healthy
Make sure your loved ones eat well by incorporating a variety of fruit and vegetables into their diet, and ensure that they have at least one hot meal per day. If they cook for themselves, make sure that their cupboards and freezer are well stocked in case it is too difficult for them to get to the shops during very cold spells. Encourage them to take advantage of government health initiatives such as the flu vaccine, free to anyone over 65, as well as those with underlying health conditions and weak immune systems.

Help them to avoid accidents
When ice or snow cover roads and pavements, accidents are far more likely to happen, and as elderly people are far more vulnerable to injury than younger adults, the repercussions of a slip or fall can be far more serious. If your loved one is likely to venture out in inclement weather, ask them whether you or another volunteer can run their errands for them, or accompany them on their outing. You can also assist by gritting the path and driveway surrounding their property and offer to shovel snow for them. If your loved one usually drives, suggest that they leave the car at home until the weather improves, and offer help and assistance where you can.

How Sova Healthcare can help
We know that as much as you care about your loved ones, it is not always practical to care for them, particularly if you live far away or work full time. We offer an extensive range of flexible care options, which are tailored to you, so we can offer as much or as little support as you require, allowing you to rest easy, safe in the knowledge that your loved ones are being looked after. If you’d like to find out more about how Sova Healthcare can help you, please get in touch with us today.