Senior Loneliness and Isolation – A Growing Health Crisis

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 1.4 elderly people in Canada report feeling lonely. Loneliness and isolation among Canadian seniors is growing and some are calling this a public health crisis.

Loneliness and isolation are caused by a number of factors. As we age, our social network gets smaller as friends and spouses die and adult children have their own lives to manage. It’s important to point out that for many people, this loneliness and isolation can often begin as early as in their 50s, especially in those who are widowed. And with each passing year, the number of risk factors associated with loneliness increases. Risk factors include:

  • Living alone
  • Being 80 or older
  • Having health issues
  • Having no children
  • Having little to no contact with family
  • Changing family structures, such as younger relatives moving away
  • Limited access to transportation
  • Low income

Loneliness Worse Than Obesity and Smoking, According to Reports

Feelings of loneliness are predictors of mortality. According to various reports, social isolation increases your risk of death by an astounding 30 to 60 percent.

Diseases that are worsened or even caused by chronic loneliness include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Obesity
  • Neurodegenerative disorders

In-Home Caregivers Can Help with Senior Isolation and Loneliness

Home care agencies that offer in-home health care services for seniors provide invaluable assistance to seniors at risk of or already dealing with isolation of feelings of loneliness.

Having limited mobility or limited access to transportation to get to and from social activities and medical appointments have been identified as contributors to isolation and declining health in seniors. Our willing and able caregivers are available to help with transportation to appointments, social outings, and more.

Poor medication adherence is another identified risk factor that increases with aging alone or with limited support. Our home health care services also include RN- supervised care, including medication management, pain management, wound care, and more.

Our caregivers are also available to provide companionship. We can schedule regular visits to assist with other in-home care services or companionship, which entail anything from someone to chat with over a cup of tea to playing cards, doing crafts, or going for a walk.

If you or an aging loved one would like to learn more about how our friendly caregivers can help combat loneliness, stay well, and enjoy life to the fullest, give us a call.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources
Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors. https://www.canada.ca/en/national-seniors-council/programs/publications-reports/2014/social-isolation-seniors/page05.html
The Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Seniors (SILAS) Project: Summary of Findings and Recommendations. http://www.vancouverseniorsadvisory.ca/wp-content/uploads/SILAS_review_slides_SAC_Friesen_May_2018_Elmer.pdf

Ways to Finance Home Care

The cost of home care services varies based on the degree of assistance needed. Many people are under the impression that receiving professional care at home is too costly and rely on family caregivers instead. Often times, family caregivers and the recipient come to realize that providing senior care, even very basic care, requires a considerable amount of time and often, out of pocket expenses. Then there is also the income lost if time needs to be taken off of work.

There Are Ways to Offset the Costs of Home Care Services

If you are currently contemplating elderly care for yourself or a loved one or are planning ahead for the future, the following are services and investments that can help offset the cost of in home health care. Utilizing government pensions, tax credits, and other government-funded programs can help make in home senior care services more affordable. Investing in an insurance policy, such as long-term care insurance or critical illness insurance can also help you cover the costs of in home health care if the need arises.

The following are some of the options available to help you pay for home care services, be it basic senior care or companionship, to more advanced home care due to chronic illness or disability.

Tax Credits

Depending on your annual income, you may be eligible for tax credits related to medical expenses, including prescription drugs, assistive devices and medical equipment, and modifications to your home or vehicle. Tax relief on electricity, transportation, and property taxes are also available. Together these credits can go a long way in helping you pay for home care services.

Available tax credits through the Government of Ontario include:

  • Ontario Drug Benefit Program
  • Trillium Drug Program
  • Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
  • Ontario Electricity Support Program
  • Home and Vehicle Modification Program
  • Provincial Land Tax Deferral Program for Low-Income Seniors and Low-Income Persons with Disabilities
  • Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant
  • Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit

Pensions

Seniors living in Ontario can apply for pensions from the provincial and federal governments. It’s worth looking into the eligibility requirements for each as you may be eligible for more than you thought.

The different government pensions available include:

  • Canada Pension
  • Old Age Security pension
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement
  • Disability Pension

Veterans and their loved ones should also look into pensions and benefits for veterans available through:

  • Veteran Affairs Canada
  • Ontario’s Soldiers’ Aid Commission
  • War Veterans Allowance

Insurance

If you’re planning ahead to your future, there are insurance policies, such as long-term care insurance and critical illness insurance that may help pay the costs of in home care services. Insurance can be expensive and premiums increase as you age. Speaking to a financial planner at your bank can be helpful in finding ways to afford paying your monthly premium if finances are tight.

Look into the different policies offered by different insurance providers, as they can vary greatly in cost and coverage.

Government-Funded Home Care and Community Services

Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) handle all government-funded services for people living at home. This was formerly handled by Community Care Access Centres (CCAC).  They can determine if you are eligible for home care services, such as personal care, homemaking, and other in home care, or family-managed home care, which provides you with direct funding to pay for home care services.

Contact your local LHIN for more information and eligibility.

Reverse mortgage

A reverse mortgage is a loan for senior homeowners that allows borrowers to access a portion of the equity in their home using the home as collateral.  In general, the mortgage does not have to be repaid until the borrower permanently moves out of the property or passes away.  This type of loan is a good source of revenue to assist with the cost of home care services.

How We Can Help

Living Assistance Services provides a broad range of in-home care services that can be adapted to give you or your loved one as much or as little assistance as needed on your schedule. Speak to us about our services and how they can be catered to suit your needs and budget.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources:
Seniors: manage your finances. https://www.ontario.ca/page/seniors-manage-your-finances
Tax credits and benefits for people. https://www.ontario.ca/page/tax-credits-and-benefits-people
Veterans Affairs Canada: After an illness or injury. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/services/after-injury
Home and community care. https://www.ontario.ca/page/homecare-seniors#section-3

Home Care at the End of Life

It’s not easy watching a loved one reach the end of life, even if their life has been a long and happy one. The end of life can bring many changes for not just the person dying, but for the family, too. The goal of care changes from cure to comfort, decisions and arrangements need to be made, and with all of this, you also need to prepare for the changes your dying loved will experience as the end approaches. It’s a lot for even the strongest and most prepared person.

How Professional Home Care Providers Help the Dying and Their Loved Ones

Professional home care providers aren’t just there to help the elderly live in comfort and with dignity, but are also able to provide these things at the end of life as well.

An elderly care professional has been trained to observe changes in a person’s level of pain and emotional state, and spot signs of other types of distress. This enables the caregiver to assist with pain management and change the level or type of care so that the patient gets exactly what he or she needs.

Having a professional with experience in palliative and end of life care can be very comforting for the family as well as the person dying. They are able to provide information about the stages and process of dying, which can help you better prepare for what’s to come. This also helps alleviate some of the fear and anxiety that is common during this time. They understand that visiting with a dying loved one is emotionally challenging and are able to provide support as needed to the entire family.

A PSW can also assist with many of the practicalities of end of life which can allow the family members more quality time with their loved one. This includes everything from basic housekeeping meal prep for you and the patient, to helping you have conversations about death and dying—something many find extremely difficult. They are there to listen and answer questions while respecting your comfort level.

Providing At Home Care or Assistance in Hospital

Our caregivers are available to provide in home care services, as well as help in a hospital. Regardless of where the care services are being provided, you can rest assured that their goal is give your loved one the peace and unconditional regard they deserve, even providing companionship at the very end.

Many struggle with trying to manage the responsibilities of work and home when their parent or loved one is nearing the end of life. You want to be there around the clock and worry about your loved one being alone, but this isn’t always possible and can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Having a private home care professional assist with end of life care can be very comforting for the dying and their family. They are able to provide as much companionship as possible and eliminate the worry that the person will die alone.

Along with companionship, a PSW can also provide regular updates to the family and take over some of the care duties from hospital staff. This ensures that your loved one gets the personal care and attention that you want for them, right to the very end.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care