The,Old,Woman,Prays,At,Home

What Does Spiritual Health Look Like In Aged Care?

For the elderly, spiritual health is an important aspect of providing quality care. In an aged care setting, spiritual needs are also catered for to promote holistic health and maintain an individual’s identity. As a Catholic organisation, we understand the role religion and spirituality plays in the lives of others when it comes to personal identity, especially for those with higher care needs like individuals in palliative care.

 

Spiritual health and wellbeing is a significant part of providing care as it helps individuals to:

• Reduce stress

• Find inner peace

• Transcend pain and suffering

• Discover meaning & purpose

• Maintain Identity

 

Meaningful Ageing Australia (https://meaningfulageing.org.au) segments spiritual care into five areas:

  1. Organisational leadership and alignment – Embedding and practising spiritual care at all levels through the organisation
  2. Relationship and connectedness – Providing care in the context of mutual, respectful and genuine relationships
  3. Identifying and meeting spiritual needs – Recognising choices, preferences and needs of older people, to be identified, documented and shared by the care team
  4. Ethical context of spiritual care – Ethical framework to ensure spiritual care is offered in a way that respects and upholds the rights of older people
  5. Enabling spiritual expression – Individualised activities and interventions to encourage the finding of meaning, purpose, connectedness and hope.

 

Both seeking and expressing spirituality your way is highly important as at all stages of life as it’s the core of who we are. Scalabrini’s mission is to provide high quality and meaningful aged care, which includes accommodating for all spiritual and religious needs. We have religious sisters who live onsite at all of our villages who are available to provide pastoral care to assist in improving the quality of life of our residents through spiritual care.

 

If you have any questions about how Scalabrini accommodates spiritual health for our residents, please don’t hesitate to call our friendly staff today at 1800 722 522 or enquire by email at enquiries@scalabrini.com.au

Help the elderly in COVID-19

We’re all in this together: How to help the elderly in the COVID-19 pandemic

While we may currently be separated by distance, it’s more important than ever for us to all come together as Australians. 

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, we all share a responsibility to look out for and protect the highest-risk members of our community — our elderly. 

A big part of this is maintaining distance, so as to not potentially spread the virus if you are unknowingly carrying it. But, just because you may not be able to physically spend time with the older people in your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t help support them through these difficult times.

Here are 4 simple ways you can look out for the elderly during the COVID-19 outbreak, whether that’s your parents, grandparents, neighbours or other relatives 

Volunteer to run errands 

People over the age of 60 have been instructed by the Australian government to stay home. While this is for the best, it can present new challenges to seniors who may be used to being able to pop out and get their groceries or send off their mail. 

One great way you can help the older people in your community is by offering to run their errands for them. This could mean taking their shopping list and doing a grocery run for them, or ordering online on their behalf. You could also offer to take their laundry to the laundromat, or pick up their medication (so long as they can arrange to give their pharmacist authority for you to do so). 

Some local councils have been handing out slips you can slide under your neighbour’s door, with a box they can check if they need assistance. Otherwise, you could make your own, or simply pick up the phone and ask if they need a hand. This simple gesture could make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Help them get connected

For many older people, social activities or community outings are the highlights of their week. The good news is, there are a few different online social activities they can do to help combat feelings of loneliness and boredom. These include everything from chat rooms for seniors to online concerts and church services.

One great way you can help the seniors in your life is by assisting in getting them set up with the tech to use these services. This might be a case of giving them instructions over the phone, or taking their laptop to set it up for them and recording a short, step-by-step video.

For more tips in helping seniors get connected, check out this article.

Check up on them regularly 

Sometimes, just knowing that somebody cares can be enough to completely brighten someone’s day. So, one way you can help is by simply checking up on them often to see how they’re going. 

This could be tapping on your neighbour’s window every few days for a quick chat, or picking up the phone. 

At Scalabrini, we have our residents set up with iPads with video chat capabilities. So, if your loved one lives at a Scalabrini village, feel free to organise to do video calls with them to let them know you care. You can book in your video chat here.

You could also record a lovely, heartfelt video message that they can play. We see first-hand what a smile this puts on our residents’ faces!

Lend a friendly ear

Unfortunately, not every older person has someone in their life who will check up on them often. The good news is, you can still make a difference in the life of someone you don’t even know. 

Organisations like the Red Cross run volunteer programs where you do daily phone call check-ins with older and disabled people to check that they’re ok — and just to have a chat! Have a search and see if there are any opportunities for telecross volunteering in your area. 

At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. By making a conscious effort to look out for our elders, we can help take care of their physical and mental health in these challenging times.

Blog Post

Missing Nana or Grandpa? How to answer kids’ questions about the Coronavirus

The COVID-19 outbreak can be scary and overwhelming for anybody, but this is especially true for children. 

Kids, particularly those on the younger side, may find it difficult to understand why they can’t leave the house, or why they’re not allowed to go see Nana and Pop anymore. This can cause feelings of confusion, sadness and even anger.

It can be challenging to find the right balance between scaring children with Coronavirus facts, and helping them to understand the situation at hand. But by using the tips below, you will be able to answer questions have about COVID-19 with tact, and alleviate some of their fears.

Acknowledge their questions

First and foremost, it’s important that children feel heard and that their questions aren’t silly. Be sure to listen intently, and avoid interrupting until they have finished speaking.  

Then, you can tell them that their worries are normal and that you’re here to help them through it.

You can also ask them what they already know about the situation and how they are feeling about it, so you can address any concerns or misconceptions they might have.  

Remain calm 

Children often pick up on our behaviour more than we realise, and this influences their own moods and emotions. When they see a parent or other adult worrying, they may see this as their cue to worry too.

So, be sure to address your own concerns and anxieties about the situation before you sit down to talk to a child. Model calmness during your conversation and they will likely follow your lead. 

Learn the facts

There is such an overload of information out there about COVID-19 that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. 

It’s important to familiarise yourself with current information about the Coronavirus from reputable sources such as the World Health Organisation or Australian Government’s health alert.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to alarm your child with information like the most recent death toll. But it will arm you with the confidence that you know what you’re talking about.

Be honest

Although it may be tempting to say whatever will put their little mind at ease, white lies or unnecessary sugar coating can do more harm than good. 

With children having such easy access to the information these days, it can break trust or leave them feeling more confused if they hear contrasting information from another source.

Try to avoid saying things like “it’s no big deal” or promising that nobody they know will contract the virus, as unfortunately that’s out of your control.

Instead, be honest with them about the situation, but keep the focus on things that are within control. 

For example, you could say something like “yes, there is a higher risk if the elderly catching the virus, but Nan and Pop are doing all the right things to stay safe.” 

Give age-appropriate answers

It’s also important to tailor your language, based on the age of the child. 

For younger children (for example, under 10) you might explain that COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new germ or bug, and that germs are organisations that are so tiny that we can’t see them, but they can make us sick if they get into our bodies. 

For older children or teenagers, you may choose to delve a little deeper into the science — especially if they’ve shown an interest in it. Understanding the ‘why’ can help unveil some of the mystery around it and make it feel that little less scary. 

Not quite sure how to put it all into words? Red Cross has some great examples of phrases you can use when talking to young people about COVID-19 that you can use as a starting point.

Focus on the positives

It may feel as though silver linings are few and far in between at the moment. However, there are some positives you can focus on to remind children that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

For example, it can be helpful to remind children that there have been many pandemics throughout history and that the experts know exactly what to do — it will just take some time. 

You could also focus on the fact that China has already been through what we are experiencing, and are beginning to come out the other side. 

If all else fails, remind them that the world will keep spinning, the sun will come up tomorrow, and that you have each other!

Help them find solutions 

In such tumultuous times, it’s important to help kids regain a sense of control. Rather than focusing on the uncertainty of the situation, focus on what they can do to keep themselves and the community safe. 

Teach them proper hand-washing technique and remind them to stay away from others if they do leave the home.

You can also help them play a proactive role in communicating with loved ones like grandparents.  

For example, you could encourage them to schedule a weekly phone or video chat at the same time each week.  Staying in regular contact with Grandma and Grandpa will also help reassure them that they are okay. 

By following these simple tips, you can help your kids or grandkids navigate this uncharted territory and take a weight off their little shoulders. 

Thoughtful elderly man sitting alone at home with his walking cane

Tips to Help Aging Parents deal with Loneliness

We all get lonely sometimes, but the elderly are more vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness than most people. While it’s normal to occasionally feel lonely, long periods of loneliness can lead to depression.

If you have aging parents, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs that they’re feeling lonely and to have a strategy in place in the event that they begin to struggle with loneliness. This is because people who are lonely are more likely to die prematurely. Statistics show that loneliness is about as deadly as smoking and more dangerous to our health than obesity.

So what exactly is loneliness? The Encyclopedia of Human Relationships describes loneliness as ‘Distress resulting from discrepancies between perceived and ideal social relationships.’ This is why it’s possible for people to have a large group of friends and acquaintances and still feel lonely.

According to Psychology Today, there are many factors that impact how people respond to loneliness, and different people will respond to loneliness differently. However, there are a few key signs to look out for if you’re concerned about an elderly parent.

Your parent may be feeling lonely if you notice any of these signs:

They’re Shopping ’til They Drop

One study found that people who are lonely will often feel the need to accumulate possessions in an attempt to use material things to try to fill a void. Shopping will often provide a temporary happiness ‘boost,’ which can mask the symptoms of loneliness.

They’re Sleeping Poorly

Another study has linked feelings of anxiety and isolation to fragmented sleeping habits. If your parent seems to be more tired than they usually are, or are continually sleeping poorly, it may be a good idea to check if they’re getting enough social interaction during their day.

They’re Constantly Sick

Have you noticed that your parent constantly seems to be sick? A study from UCLA found that people who are lonely and socially isolated are more likely to have a weakened immune system than people who are getting enough social stimulation. That’s because the immune system begins to focus on bacteria, making it more likely that someone suffering from loneliness will pick up a virus.

They Keep Losing Weight

If your parent is beginning to look thinner, they may not be eating well. When they’re only cooking for one, it can seem like there’s little point in cooking a full meal- especially if they have also had changes in their appetite.

They’re Taking More Showers and Baths

Interestingly, a series of studies found that people who are lonely are more likely to take long, hot baths and showers to help themselves feel better. It turns out that there is a connection between loneliness and warmth, and humans feel lonelier when they’re cold.

They’re Watching a lot of TV

While people who are retired will naturally watch a little more TV than the rest of us, the University of Texas found that there’s a link between loneliness and binge-watching TV series. This is because TV can help us ‘switch off’ our bad feelings and it’s a good distraction from feelings of depression and loneliness. If you’ve noticed that your parent is spending more time than usually watching TV, they may be feeling lonely.

Helping Parents Deal with Loneliness

Social isolation and loneliness are strongly linked with depression, and studies have found that depression and loneliness tend to go hand-in-hand. That’s why it’s important to spot the signs that your parent is feeling lonely and nip it in the bud as soon as you can.

Here are a few ways you can help your parents fight loneliness:

Stay in Touch

This may seem obvious, but maintaining communication with your parents is a great way to help them beat loneliness. Of course, it’s easy to get busy with day-to-day life, so you may want to schedule a weekly call to catch up and let them know they’re important to you.

Encourage Socialisation

It can be easy to fall into a rut when you’re retired, especially if you haven’t been going out much. Encourage your parents to socialise and meet new people- or even sign up for some new hobbies or activities.

Learn Technology

Your parent may never have used a computer in their lives, but the internet is a wonderful way for them to meet new, like-minded people. Not only can Google and Facebook help them to find new meetups and classes in their area, but they can also use forums to chat with other people about a variety of interests and topics.

Talk to them about internet safety and the importance of not giving out any private information online. If you’re busy, your children may be available to help teach them the basics.

Introduce Volunteering

There are thousands of people who need a helping hand, and people who are dealing with loneliness will often find that volunteering is a great way to meet people. Not only does volunteering help them feel gratitude for their own situation, but they will get to share their own life experience and skills with their community.

Are your parents dealing with loneliness? They’ll have the opportunity to make friends and social connections at Scalabrini. Get in touch today to learn more.

Nutrition Tips

Nutrition Tips for Seniors

After the age of 50, we gradually begin to lose muscle mass – a process known as sarcopenia. Since muscle makes up to 60% of body mass, it’s easy to see how this process can contribute to a number of health issues, like fatigue and loss of strength and stamina which in turn can impair balance and increase the  risk of falls. Two of the main causes of sarcopenia include nutritional deficiencies and a decline in activity.

People tend to move less as they age, which means their muscle mass naturally begins to decrease and they burn fewer calories. This often contributes to a reduced appetite, which in turn can lead to lower energy and less exercise.

Appetite is also influenced by hormonal changes. People in the 75+ age group, in particular, are less likely to respond to hormones like cholecystokinin and ghrelin which are appetite regulators.

Unfortunately, changes in appetite can lead to nutrient deficiencies. And a nutrient-rich diet is one of the best ways to stay healthy as you grow older. If you’re aged 65+, or you’re caring for someone in this age bracket, you may have noticed a change in appetite. This can make it challenging to get all the nutrients needed each day. Luckily, we have a few senior nutrition tips that can help:

Focus on protein

After we hit 30, we lose between 3 and 8% of our muscle mass each decade. This loss contributes to decreased muscle strength, which increases the risk of balance problems and falls. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. One study found that elderly people who ate the least amount of protein daily lost 40% more muscle compared to the people who ate the most.

A diet rich in protein, combined with resistance exercise is one of the most effective ways to fight sarcopenia. New research has suggested that seniors should eat approximately 1g of protein per kg. So for someone weighing 70kg, a range of 60-70 grams of protein per day is ideal.

Consider nutrition density

One of the biggest challenges of elderly nutrition? Getting all the nutrients needed in the same or fewer calories.

Since there is less room for ‘wasted’ calories, consider foods that give the biggest bang for your nutrient buck. These include foods that are high in vitamin D and calcium for bone health, like milk and dairy products, canned fish, dark green vegetables, and fortified cereals.

B12 is also important, and you’ll find this in seafood, lean meat, and some cereals.

Many seniors are at risk of high blood pressure, and increased potassium and reduced sodium can help. Potassium can be found in beans, vegetables, and fruits, while you can increase flavour in your foods with spices and herbs (and skip the salt).

Stock up on fats

Trans fats and saturated fats can increase blood pressure, cholesterol, and your risk or heart disease. However healthy fats from nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, fatty fish, and avocado are super important. That’s because your body can’t create these essential fatty acids and your cells and organs need them to function efficiently.

Eat plenty of fibre

Constipation is common for seniors, often due to a lower fluid intake, decreased appetite, and less activity. You can stay regular by incorporating plenty of fibre in your diet. You’ll find fibre in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Fibre also helps prevent diabetes and it’s great for your heart.

How to prepare nutrient-rich meals

It’s easier than you might think to follow the above tips and create healthy, nutritious meals. Here are some great options:

Smoothies

Smoothies are an excellent breakfast option but you can also make them any time of the day. Simply throw some of the below foods in a blender and you’ll have a healthy meal that’s easy to eat even when you don’t feel hungry:

  • Banana
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Frozen fruit (berries, mango, and other fruit can be found in the frozen section of the supermarket)
  • Nut butter
  • Green vegetables like spinach (you won’t taste them)
  • Flax meal
  • Coconut water

Smoothies are great nutritional drinks for elderly people since you can play with many different ingredients until you find a few combinations you love. You can also pre-assemble the ingredients you need and keep them in the freezer so all you need to do is blend them together.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches can be eaten for lunch or dinner, and they’re easy to throw together. Grab some chicken or turkey from the deli and add lettuce, avocado, tomato, cheese, and wholegrain bread for an easy, nutritious meal.

Soups

Soups are particularly great in winter, and you can make a large batch and freeze individual portions to eat later. These can often be made in a slow cooker so they’re cooking while you get on with your day.

Soups are also a good option for seniors who have difficulty swallowing and chewing. Use a low-sodium stock and incorporate plenty of fresh herbs and spices to add a flavour kick.

Nutrition for older adults is critical for an excellent quality of life. By following the above tips, you’ll boost your immune system, reduce your risk of heart disease, and fight sarcopenia.

Are you looking for aged care accommodation? Get in touch today to learn about your options.