Many older people can come down with serious illnesses or long-term health problems when they get to a certain age. Most adults suffer from a chronic medical condition for which they require care from a caregiver, family member, or friend. Ben Friedman, the owner, and director of Rykka Care Centres oversees the long-term care for residents in three nursing home facilities in Ontario, Canada. With over a decade of ownership under his belt, Ben Friedman can educate anyone on the finer details of what makes someone the best caregiver they can possibly be in today’s world.
Ben Friedman asks, “What can you do to become the best ‘care coach’ or ‘care champion’ you can be for an older person?”
These are just a few of Rykka Care Centre Owner Ben Friedman’s tips on how you can show them you care:
Encourage the person you are caring for in their ability to cope with their treatment to increase their confidence. Despite the difficulties, they may encounter, encourage them to believe that undergoing treatment or rehabilitation will benefit them.
One step at a time
Even when they are nauseous or unable to eat, you can encourage someone undergoing chemotherapy to drink some water or soup so they get the fluids they need. If they have had a stroke or are experiencing other mobility problems, help them take just a few steps to get to the bathroom.
Be persistent in your encouragement
Continually reinforce the idea that they can eat some soup or take a short walk to the bathroom. Repetition and realistic encouragement are essential.
Recount the recent wins
If it seems impossible to them to eat or walk today, gently remind them that they did it yesterday and will be able to do it again today.
Compassion is a virtue
As it can be challenging to deal with chemotherapy or other difficult treatments, sometimes it is best to simply sit and talk with the person you’re caring for. You can be a great distraction for them just by listening to what they have to say at that moment. A milkshake will do if that’s all they want. A stroke survivor can manage their fear of falling if you support them when they get up from a wheelchair.
Keep unnecessary gestures to a minimum
It is unlikely that sick patients will ask for help. When you say, “Let me know if there is anything I can do” or “Call me if you need anything,” you will likely offend them. Offer tangible assistance instead.
Don’t hesitate to act
You can never do or say too much. If you learn that someone is ill, stay in touch with them. Don’t be reluctant to approach someone because you’re concerned about invading their privacy. The person’s illness is not a secret. Send a card or call the person. Let them know that you care. It will be evident from their response whether you helped. During treatment, or when they are dealing with an ongoing illness, they will need the support of those around them.
What worked last time…
Consider how you handled difficult situations in the past. It can be as simple as sharing a favorite quote from a book that helped you through difficult times or that helped you see things differently. Providing encouragement is a great way to help. Moreover, you can share your experiences regarding things that helped you bounce back during troubled times.
Whenever you are unsure about a procedure, ask questions
Hands-on care may be necessary, such as giving someone an injection or caring for a wound. Even if you have been instructed about the procedure previously, do not be afraid to ask questions. This type of care should not cause you any anxiety or stress, so make sure you feel comfortable and confident.
Caregiver support groups
Ben Friedman can tell you that across Canada, there are support groups for caregivers of all shapes and sizes. These support groups were created to offer a sense of community to caregivers who spend so much time separated away from the rest of the world with their ailing parents or patients. These support groups are meant to help with emotions of isolation and frustration—and to create a place of openness and a nonjudgmental place for a caregiver to reach out for help without feeling any scrutiny.
Finding a support group in your area should be easy. You would want to try any organization that has the mandate to educate and share specific knowledge on a certain health issue, like the Heart and Stroke Foundation or Parkinson’s Society. Also, you could ask a local religious group, other caregivers, hospital discharge planners, or social workers in your area about possible recommendations.
New caregivers tend to use the support group seminars for the workshops and to gather new insights, while experienced caregivers tend to know better the issues they need resolved and find the smaller support group settings to fulfill those needs the best.
Ben Friedman knows that no matter your motivation to attend, caregiver groups offer an incredible support system that gets us in touch with others who may be suffering from the same issues and put caregivers together simply to remind one another that they are not alone and that there are people who understand the roller-coaster ride that it is to be a professional or personal caregiver.
For more information or to reach out to professionals to answer more questions, go to Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization or CanAge at www.canage.ca.
BEN FRIEDMAN BIOGRAPHY
Ben Friedman was born in Los Angeles, California where his father and grandfather owned and ran a long-term care facility to care for the elderly in their community. Friedman lost his father early in life, but the dream of one day running his very own long-term care facility was made a reality about 12 years ago with the creation of Rykka Care Centres. Rykka Care Centres owns and operates long-term care facilities in and around the General Toronto Area. Ben Friedman has devoted much of his professional life to the care and management of these facilities in order to do as his father did and give the elderly in those communities a place in which they can safely and enjoyably spend their golden years.
Ben Friedman, along with his family, is known for his charitable giving to many different organizations all over Canada. Ben and his family believe that offering not only their money but their time to communal affairs and efforts is the most important thing that they could do with their extra time.