Senior Isolation – Is Your Parent At Risk?

The topic of senior isolation and loneliness is in the news regularly, but that doesn’t apply to your aging parent, right? Even though they live alone they have you and your family who call regularly and visit as often as you can. Unfortunately, senior isolation is very real and not just limited to seniors who have no children or family; any senior who lives alone is at risk.

A report on the social isolation of seniors confirms that there are several risk factors that increase the possibility of seniors becoming isolated. Living alone topped the list of risk factors, which also included:

  • Death of a spouse
  • Retirement
  • Being age 80 or older
  • Having health issues
  • Lacking access to transportation/losing their driver’s licence
  • Changing family structures

It was found that the more of these that apply, the higher the likelihood of isolation and the risks associated with isolation, such as depression and anxiety, cognitive decline, dementia, and early death.

How Hiring Home Care Can Help Prevent Isolation

Even if your elderly parent is in good health and not in need of home health care or medical services, enlisting the services of a home care agency can help prevent isolation and loneliness. Joyful companionship is one of the types of home care services available that can greatly improve the quality of life for your widowed or single parent. Joyful companionship allows a caregiver to visit your parent and engage them in activities they enjoy, such as:

  • Playing board games
  • Participating in an exercise routine or going for walks
  • Accompanying them to the movies or a play
  • Escorting them to social functions and to visit friends

The frequency and length of visits can be adapted to suit your parent’s needs and home care services can include a combination of companionship and help with the practicalities of everyday life, like shopping, doctor’s appointments, and running errands. This type of flexible home care can make all the difference to a senior who is recently widowed and at risk of isolation or loneliness, or for an elderly parent who values their independence but may be struggling to do everything on their own.

Whether just a weekly visit to check in and have a chat over a cup of tea or getting them out of the house for social activities multiple times a week; a caregiver can bring joy into your aging parent’s life and provide you with peace of mind.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


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Family Day: The Special Bond between seniors and Their Caregivers

With Family Day upon us again, it’s only fitting that we discuss a very important relationship, which while not family by blood, is one worth celebrating: The relationship between the caregiver and the care recipient.

The bond between a home health care provider and the person receiving care is one of trust, admiration, and respect. This bond is even more important when a senior doesn’t have family close by, which can be especially difficult during family-centered holidays.

It’s About More Than Home Care Services

Home health care providers provide so much more than just home care services. They’re a daily fixture in the person’s life and in a position to fill the void of the son or daughter who is not able to be there.

As caregivers, they often make a significant impact on the life of the person receiving elderly care. Not only are they there to help with activities of daily living or provide home care medical services, but they also greatly improve the person’s quality of life by making daily tasks easier and providing social stimulation—something that many seniors, unfortunately lack.

The Proof is in the Pudding

A 2009 study led by John Hopkins and Utah State University found that Alzheimer’s patients who had close relationships with their caregivers had a slower decline in their mind and brain function. The beneficial effect of an emotional bond with their caregiver was found to be on par with some of the drugs that are used to treat the disease. While the study mainly focused on family members in the role of caregiver, the benefits of having an in-home care provider that they trust and feel close to are undeniable.

Home Care Providers Are Good for the Entire Family

Holidays aren’t just difficult for the elderly, but also their children and other family members who may not be able to see their aging loved one. It’s heartbreaking to think of your elderly parent spending a holiday, especially “Family Day” without a family member in sight. Elderly home care providers can ease some of that sadness and guilt by being there and caring for them when you can’t.

They may not be related, but they are able to be there to make life easier by providing quality home care, as well as companionship, whether by reading to them, playing cards with them or just listening.

With the right home care provider, they never have to feel alone.

Happy Family Day!

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


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Unqualified Senior Caregivers = Risky Business!

Regardless of our income or spending habits, we’re always happy to score a deal and get things for less. This is no different when it comes to services, including home care. Turning to an unqualified senior caregiver or hiring someone inexperienced to provide residential home care for you or an aging parent may seem like a good deal, but doing so comes with great deal of risk.

The Risks of Hiring Unqualified Home Care Providers

Whether you hire an unqualified home care worker or a friend or family member who has no professional experience in home care jobs, many of the risks are the same. You need to consider the following before choosing an unqualified caregiver:

  • Inadequate skills and training: There is specialized training required to become a certified Personal Support Worker (PSW) and most accredited home care agencies such as Living Assistance Services provide ongoing training to improve skills in elderly care. A person who has not undergone advanced home care training is unlikely to be able to meet the needs of the elderly. You also need to consider who will fill in for the caregiver if they’re unable to come in for some reason.  Professional home health care agencies have other staff available for such circumstances and also often have a complimentary registered nurse on staff to handle medical issues.
  • Theft and abuse: Home care agencies adhere to strict screening guidelines when hiring people to fill home care jobs; checking credentials, references, and even performing a criminal background check. They also insure their staff for dishonesty. If you choose to hire an unqualified senior care provider, you’re responsible for screening. Failing to do so puts you at a higher risk of theft of valuables, identity theft, abuse, and more.
  • Liability and Worker’s Compensation Board Insurance (WSIB): Private home care providers aren’t insured, which makes you liable should they get injured while in your home. Even a minor injury can result in lost wages and medical expenses that you would be responsible for.
  • Tax implications: When you hire an unqualified caregiver, you are legally their employer. This makes you responsible for deducting Canada Pension Plan contributions, Employment Insurance, vacation pay, health tax and income tax and then remitting it to the Canada Revenue Agency. Not filing properly or paying “under the table” to save money can result in fines and other penalties, and even criminal charges.

Reducing the Risk When Choosing Senior Care Services

When choosing senior care services, you want to ensure that you’ll have access to all of the home care services you or your loved one need and that they are being provided by a competent, trained, and insured caregiver. Home health care services can be chosen to suit your needs and budget so that you don’t need to take risks with unqualified or inexperienced caregivers.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


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Parkinson’s disease: Signs and Symptoms, Home Care, and More

According to Stats Canada, Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s. This progressive disease often develops gradually with very subtle symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s

A very slight hand tremor is often the first sign a person may notice. Other early symptoms of Parkinson’s are the same as those that we’re quick to brush off as a normal part of aging, such stiffness or moving slower when walking or getting up from a chair. As the disease progresses, symptoms worsen.

Other signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s include:

  • Balance problems, such as stooping or trouble maintaining balance when standing or walking
  • Speech changes, such as slurring words or hesitating before speaking
  • Impairment of movements that we make without thinking, such as smiling, blinking, or arms swinging when walking

Parkinson’s causes changes that can make even simple daily tasks difficult, which can be scary and frustrating. It’s not uncommon for a person with Parkinson’s to lash out or experience mood swings, especially as the disease progresses and begins to affect sleep and the ability to think clearly.

Caring for Someone with Parkinson’s

As the disease can come on very gradually, your loved one may be able to maintain their independence for some time, but as it progresses, it will become more difficult for them to manage, even with loving family home care. It’s not easy to watch your loved one lose the ability to do the things they used to, and being unable to give them the care they require can be difficult to accept.  Fortunately, with the right type of senior care, a person with Parkinson’s can continue to maintain some independence while continuing to live in the comfort of home.

Access to a variety of home care services that can be adapted as the disease worsens and brings new challenges is crucial. It’s difficult to think about the later stages of this degenerative condition, but the reality is that there will come a time when you won’t be able to provide much of the help that your loved one needs. This is why planning ahead and choosing the right assisted living service is so important; so you will have the right type of help when the time comes.

You’ll want to consider home health care agencies that offer varied and flexible services ranging from help with basic care at home to advanced home care, such as RN supervised care. A home care agency with staff trained in caring for those with chronic diseases, such as Parkinson’s is also important.

Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself

Caring for a person with a chronic illness is overwhelming and takes a toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing.  A 2012 survey by Stats Canada found that among caregivers who spent at least 2 hours each week—34% helping a spouse and 21% who helped their parents—reported feeling depressed. Caregiver burnout is quite common, but can be avoided when you take steps to look after yourself.

When considering enlisting home care assistance, remember to also think of the services that give you what you need, such as respite care so that you can get a break when you need it with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is in good hands.

The right type of home care can make all the difference for you and the person with Parkinson’s.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


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Long Term Care Facility or Home Care?

As an agency which provides home care assistance to seniors and others in their own homes, we frequently receive calls from family members who have a loved one currently in hospital and the family has just recently been advised that their loved one is being discharged… “tomorrow”!

Traditionally, a loved one requiring hospitalization results in a great deal of family stress and often a short notice of discharge compounds the problems and stress levels.

With an aging demographic, the number of Canadians 75 and over is expected to rise from 875,000 to 2.2 million by 2036, it behooves any family having an aging loved-one to consider their options in advance.

Many families ask who will care for their loved one after discharge and frequently the answer is a Long-Term Care (LTC) facility. Unfortunately, many these facilities have lengthy waiting lists often with wait times of weeks in a location not desirable by the family or their loved one.

Jane Meadus, in an article published by the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly with the title of “Discharge from Hospital to Long-Term Care: Issues in Ontario”, writes;

Families are told that they must comply with the hospital policy. “These policies may “require” the patient or substitute decision-maker (SDM) to select possible LTC homes from a “short list” where a bed is or will soon be available. If they do not comply with the policy, the hospital threatens to charge the uninsured daily rate which ranges anywhere from $500.00 to $1,500.00 or more per day.”

Living Assistance Services, an Ontario home care agency, is one of the options available to care recipients and their families and we are ready, willing and able to help on a full or part time basis.

We welcome your call, if only for advice, going forward.

David Porter, CPCA


Living Assistance Services – Home Care for Seniors