Why You Should Consider Elderly Care for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

As Canada’s population ages, the prevalence of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, macular degeneration, and type 2 diabetes is increasing. Parkinson’s disease, a chronic, progressive neurological disorder, is also on the rise. Nearly 100,000 Canadians have Parkinson’s disease, and approximately 5,500 new cases are diagnosed each year. Treatment for Parkinson’s may include working with a family physician, a neurologist, a Parkinson’s nurse specialist, a pharmacist, an occupational therapist, and a physiotherapist. In addition, patients may need to consult with a social worker or a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, and a dietician.

If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, each of these professionals will have something valuable to offer. However, one of the most important members of the team you will put together can be the home care professional or Personal Support Worker (PSW.)

What To Expect

Any time one is diagnosed with a life-changing illness, the patient and his/her family experience shock and anxiety about the future. Although there are treatments for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, there is currently no cure. The most common symptoms include tremors, impaired balance, and rigidity of the muscles. Other symptoms may include fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive ailment, it’s important that patients and their families put supports in place as soon as these become necessary.

There are many home care agencies that provide caregivers. Some of these home care agencies offer a limited number of services, delivered by a rotating roster of PSWs. This results in care that can be less than optimal, and inevitably leads to frustration for patients and their families. A far better option is to seek out a home care agency that will match you or your loved one with a specific caregiver on the basis of compatibility. It’s best to interview candidates and choose a home health care PSW who is a good “fit” for the client. This might include complementary temperaments, a similar sense of humour, a common mother tongue, or shared interests and hobbies.

Support for Daily Living

Make sure to select an assisted living agency that hires qualified and experienced personnel. Any caregiver you engage should have a PSW certificate from a respected college or learning institution, and should be properly screened and insured. He or she should have at least one year of experience in the field and should be knowledgeable about Parkinson’s in particular.

You’ll want to consider the fact that your family’s situation may evolve, so choosing a home care agency that provides flexibility regarding hours and locations is a good move.

Also make sure that the home care agency’s personnel provide a wide variety of services. You’ll want a PSW who can provide whatever is best for your family, and that can include everything from administering medication, driving the client to a dinner party, doing laundry, or playing cards.

Finally, look for an agency that is able to provide plenty of references from former and current home care clients. A caregiver can become an integral part of your family’s plan for coping with Parkinson’s disease, and the right PSW can make a tremendous difference to your quality of life.

In fact, a good caregiver can be one of your greatest assets in facing the challenges that living with Parkinson’s can bring.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


What to Look Out For When Visiting Your Elderly Parents Over the Holidays

The holiday season is one for festivities, and for many of us, it is also a time for visiting with our parents. While visiting with your parents, you noticed that things with them are not quite the same. Perhaps you have noticed:

How do you know when your parents need help?
  • Difficulty with or inability to perform routine activities, such as dressing.
  • Physiological changes, such as gaining or losing weight or sleeping too much or too little.
  • Certain physical clues around your parents’ home, such as unopened mail or an unusually untidy environment.
  • Abnormal behaviour, such as aggression or lack of motivation.
  • New or worsening health problems.
  • Decreasing socialising or leisure activities
  • Forgetting the names of household items
  • Decreased judgment regarding finances e.g. overspending

However, it is important to note that you are looking for any obvious signs of change, says Opal Rowe of Living Assistance Services from the Richmond Hill office, and that you do not confuse the stress of the holiday preparation with signs of dementia and other self-diagnosed illness. If you have concluded that there is clearly a pattern of decline in your parents, but you are unsure what to do next, one thing is certain: it is never too early to start planning for what might come.

How to Plan for your Parents’ Care
  1. Talk with your parents about your concerns. However it is best to avoid the conversation until after the holidays unless there are safety concerns for your parents. When you are having the conversation, begin by mentioning what is worrying you, and then suggest measures, such as home care, that you can take to make things better.
  2. Discuss the idea of having a health assessment done by their primary care physician.
  3. Determine if your loved ones have some legal questions and would benefit from making an appointment with an attorney – preferably one who specializes in elder law.
  4. Have a family meeting. This is essential, especially if you have siblings.
  5. Your parents may need help with house cleaning or bill paying.
  6. Ask how they would feel about having a home care specialist visit a couple times a week.
  7. In-home care is a logical first step for those who need help for a few hours a day. You may be able to convince your parents of this by reminding them that keeping them healthy and safe would allow them to continue living in their home.
  8. Plan for health emergencies. Keep a record of your parents’ doctors, medications, etc. Know where they keep their important documents.
  9. Identify people that can be your eyes and ears when you go back home, such as neighbours, family and friends. Make sure everyone on your list has your contact information in case of an emergency.
  10. Learn about resources and services available in your loved ones’ community.

The more systems you have in place, the more your parents will be kept independent and safe in their own home, giving you some peace of mind as you return from your holiday.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


11 Tried and True Caregiver Survival Tips

Are you a caregiver to one or both of your parents, or likely to become one? The best way to survive what is sure to be a task filled with challenges is to take care of yourself, and knowing what to expect, so that you can better care for them.

Caregiving can be a stressful an demanding endeavour.

Based on Elaine K Sanchez’s book, Letters from Madelyn: Chronicles of a Caregiver, here are 11 tried and true survival tips:

1. Set aside some time each day for yourself.

Set aside some time each day for yourself. Having something to look forward to will help ease your stress.

2. Get the right equipment.

Get the right equipment. As with any job, having the right tools will protect you from unnecessary strain or injury.

3. Go outside.

Go outside. Let the sights, sounds, and smells of nature lift your spirits.

4. Learn something new.

Learn something new. Even if you are confined physically, there is no limit to how far your mind can go.

5. Stay socially active.

Stay socially active. Participating in respite care programs and visiting with friends and family can help prevent depression and illness brought on by isolation.

6. Look for humour in absurd situations and redefine fun.

Look for humour in absurd situations and redefine fun. When faced with something that is difficult or frustrating, ask yourself, “Is there anything funny about this?” Also, seek new ways to bring joy and interest into your life.

7. Savour happy memories.

Savour happy memories. Recall a specific occasion when you were happy and focus on recapturing the positive, loving feelings it evokes.

8. Find a safe release for negative emotions.

Find a safe release for negative emotions. Accept that you will not always feel and act as loving and kind as you would like. When experiencing extreme stress, get active—exercise, breathe deeply, write a rant, listen to music, call a friend, or scream into a pillow. Letting off a little steam can be a very good thing.

9. Accept help.

Accept help. It is often much easier to give than to receive. If someone offers home care help, understand that he/she is giving you a gift. Accept it graciously.

10. Develop your spiritual side.

Develop your spiritual side. You may find comfort in faith. You may find it in music, meditation, or nature. If there is something that ignites your spirit, explore it, embrace it and let your soul soar.

11. Accept that death is a part of life.

Accept that death is a part of life. Talking openly about death can help relieve your fear and allow you to tell your loved one everything you want him or her to know. Then when the end comes, you will grieve the loss, but you will not have regrets about things left unsaid.

Let us know your comments. Do you have any tips to add to the list?


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care