Teenagers as Caregivers: The consequences of caregiving at a young age

The trend of waiting to start a family is no longer a trend, but the norm with most couples having their first child in their 30s. You might be surprised to learn that the number of women giving birth after the age of 40 is also rising and has risen steadily over the past decade, according to Statistics Canada. This explains why more and more adolescents and teens are finding themselves taking on the caregiver role for their parents, whether they’re ready or not.

The impact of being a teen caregiver

The number of adolescents and teens in a caregiving role is rising, but what is the impact of caring for a sick or aging parent when you still need care yourself?

The Adolescent Health Survey by the McCreary Centre Society in Vancouver found that 20 percent of the 30,000 respondents who were high school students said they were caregivers. Their duties included helping a parent or other family member bathe and eat, keeping them company, and more. The survey found that young caregivers were twice as likely to have attempted suicide in the previous year and were more likely to be bullied than those without caregiving duties.

Other research on young caregivers shows that adolescents and teens are having to perform complex caregiving duties, such as administering medication and cleaning and dressing wounds. For those looking after an aging parent with a condition such as Alzheimer’s, the demands and impact are even more profound.

Not surprisingly, taking on this role has been shown to negatively impact almost every aspect of a young person’s life.

Adolescent and teen caregivers have been shown to struggle with:

  • Poor academic performance due to trouble staying awake and focusing
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Stress
  • Mental health issues
  • Decline in physical well-being

How to help a young caregiver

No parent wants to burden their children with the duties of caregiving at any age, let alone in their adolescence or teens. Unfortunately, it’s not always avoidable, depending on variables like finances, family dynamics, and even cultural traditions and expectations. It’s also natural for a child at any age to want to care for their parent even if it’s at the cost of their own well-being.

For those who find themselves in this position or facing the possibility of being in this type of situation in the future, there are ways to help take some of the burden off teen caregivers.

With some outside-the-box thinking and a little planning, you can help a teen caregiver manage caregiving, as well as their own academic and social activities, and their mental wellbeing.

Some things that can help:

  • Have other family members and close friends share caregiving duties while the youth is at school.
  • Ask a family member or trusted friend to be there for the young caregiver so they have someone to talk to.
  • Speak to teachers and guidance counselors about the situation at home as they may be able to offer support and flexibility to help the teen succeed at school.
  • Ask your doctor or local hospital to refer you to a social worker who can help you look into financial assistance for in-home care and emotional support resources.
  • Hire a home care agency come in and help with some of the duties, such as personal care, errands, and housekeeping to free up more time for the teen to just be a teen.
  • Arrange regular respite care so the teen can take regular breaks from caregiving duties and avoid caregiver burnout.
  • Hire a home care agency to take on the more advanced home care duties that can be especially difficult for a teen, such as chronic disease care and palliative care.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care




Article Resources
Fertility: Overview, 2012 to 2016. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/91-209-x/2018001/article/54956-eng.htm
BC Adolescent Health Survey. McCreary Centre Society. https://www.mcs.bc.ca/ahs_reports#2015

Retired and No Longer on a Health Plan: Here are your out-of-pocket expenses not covered by OHIP

Having enough money to cover unexpected costs is a common worry for Canadians planning retirement. We worry about having enough to cover groceries, housing, and the leisure activities we dream of enjoying once we retire. But what about medical expenses?

It turns out that many Canadians are confused about what’s covered by OHIP after retirement. Retirees are often shocked by hidden healthcare costs. And if you were fortunate enough to have a good health plan through your employer, the sticker shock of medical expenses not covered may be especially alarming.

The amount of out-of-pocket medical expenses faced by seniors and their caregivers this year averaged around $5,800, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Costs will continue to rise per capita and are expected to reach at least $8,000 by the year 2035.

What’s not covered by OHIP

As Canadians, we are fortunate to have much of our medical care covered. Even with long wait times and sometimes limited access to doctors, depending where you live, OHIP covers visits to the doctor or nurse practitioner and hospital visits and stays.

Government programs are also available to qualifying seniors to help cover some of the cost of prescriptions and assistive devices. Unfortunately, this doesn’t go very far, especially on a limited income or when living with a chronic disease or disability:

Things not covered by OHIP:

  • vision care, such as glasses, contact lenses, and eye surgery
  • hearing care
  • certain drugs administered outside of hospital, such as certain costly cancer drugs
  • ambulance transportation services that are not deemed medically necessary
  • dental services, except for complex dental surgeries performed in a hospital
  • physiotherapy, unless you’re over 65 or meet certain criteria
  • private or semi-private hospital rooms

Other out-of-pocket medical expenses to consider:

  • Non-prescription medications, such as over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Partial cost of prescriptions unless you’re over 65 or meet the eligibility criteria for ODB if under 65
  • Partial cost of assistive devices, such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and hearing aids
  • Most of the cost of home and car modifications made to accommodate a disability
  • Part of the cost for a nursing home or other type of residential care facility
  • Part of the cost of home care services, such as personal support workers or health care aides

Medical expenses not covered by OHIP can leave you blindsided even if you’ve been diligent about saving for retirement and creating financial security for your golden years. Even if you’re fit as a fiddle, it’s important to factor the cost of long-term care when planning your retirement. Doing so can help you maintain your quality of life and ability perform everyday activities as you age or if injury or illness makes it challenging for an extended period.

Educate yourself on available government tax credits and programs for seniors and private health insurance plans to help offset medical costs. Also consider looking into home care services, including free assessment with our registered nurse who can review and assess your health and caregiving needs.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources
Measures to Better Support Seniors and Their Caregivers. The Conference Board of Canada. (2019). https://www.cma.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/health-advocacy/Measures-to-better-support-seniors-and-their-caregivers-e.pdf
Get coverage for prescription drugs. Government of Ontario. (2019). https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-coverage-prescription-drugs#section-0
What OHIP Covers. Government of Ontario. (2019). https://www.ontario.ca/page/what-ohip-covers

Renovating Your Home To Comfortably Age In Place – You’ll Need More Than Just a Grab Bar!

The majority of older Canadians want to age in place. This is not all that surprising – home is where the heart is, after all! But if home is where you want to remain for as long as possible, you’ll need to plan for it.

A Closer Look at Elder Care Renovations

When people think about home modifications for seniors, they often imagine installing a grab bar or two, but there’s more to it than that.

Older Canadians are in better physical shape than ever before, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to plan for what you may think are “old people problems”. Mobility issues and vision changes are common. The risk of chronic conditions also increases with age.

When you’re planning your future, you’ll want to factor in the cost of renovating your home to accommodate these challenges. Did you just hear a cha-ching? While renovations can be expensive, they’re not as costly as retirement homes and assisted living facilities, which cost from $2000 to $6000 per month, according to the Government of Ontario.

Here are examples of some elder care renovations that can help make aging in place easier and safer:

  • Wider doorways and hallways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs
  • Slip-resistant flooring, such as vinyl which provides better a level surface traction than stone to prevent falls
  • A ramp to at least one entrance to eliminate the need to navigate stairs to get in and out of the home
  • A curbless shower with a wide entry or a walk-in bathtub
  • A bath seat in the shower
  • Flat transition flooring and strips between rooms to minimize the risk of falls
  • Chair lift or elevator if you have stairs in your home
  • Lower kitchen counters to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter
  • Grab bars next to the toilet and shower

You may be entitled to some $$$

You can apply for a home accessibility credit to help pay for your renovations if you:

  • are eligible for the disability tax creditfor the year
  • are 65 years of age or older

Renovations or alterations that qualify are those that allow you to access your home and move around and function within it, and those that reduce harm when inside or gaining access to the home.

Other tips for aging in place

Here are a few other tips for aging in place:

  • Talk to your doctor. If either you or your partner is living with a chronic condition, your doctor may be able to tell you what types of challenges you can anticipate down the road.
  • Home care. Reputable home care agencies have registered nurses on staff who can assess your care needs and make recommendations for in-home care services that best suit you and your circumstances.
  • Consider your neighbourhood. You may love your home, but where it’s located matters. Is it safe? Is it close to family? Will you have easy access to a hospital, groceries, and your medical appointments?
  • Do your homework. When it comes time to choose a contractor, ask family or friends for recommendations. Be sure to ask for credentials and references, and try to choose a contractor familiar with elder care renovations.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care




Article Resources
Find a retirement home. Government of Ontario. (2019). https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-retirement-home#section-4
Line 398 – Home Accessibility Expenses. Government of Canada. (2018). https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/line-398-home-accessibility-expenses.html
Long-term care accommodation costs and subsidy. Government of Ontario. (2019). https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-help-paying-long-term-care

Caring For Seniors with Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada and November 14th is World Diabetes Day. There’s no better time to address the care issues faced by thousands of Canadians, the majority of which are seniors.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body uses blood sugar. It has the potential to cause serious complications when not properly controlled. Unfortunately, seniors – the most affected population – often have trouble managing diabetes on their own.

Aging and diabetes

Managing diabetes often involves a combination of medication and a diet and exercise. The condition often goes hand-in-hand with other conditions, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol – both of which also require medication and a healthy lifestyle to manage. Diabetes also raises the risk of depression and cognitive impairment – something many older adults already struggle with.

Controlling diabetes can become increasingly difficult as we get older. Age-related memory issues can make it difficult to remember to take diabetes medication or insulin. Mobility issues, lack of exercise, and menopause can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, which can also worsen diabetes.

Caring for your parent with diabetes

Some people make managing their diabetes seem effortless. Perhaps your parent has spent years living a very healthy and active life with little to no mention of their condition. The reality is that controlling diabetes gets more difficult as the years go on and it needs to be considered when planning senior care.

The following are some things to consider when caring for a senior with diabetes:

  • Blood glucose monitoring
  • Meal planning to ensure healthy, consistent meals to avoid hypoglycemia
  • Medication, such as metformin
  • Administering of insulin injections
  • Medical appointments to check for eye problems, circulatory issues, and other diabetes complications
  • Weight management
  • Dental checkups (diabetes can worsen dental health)

Talking to your parent

Talking to your aging parent about their diabetes is important. It can help you understand what their care routine involves. It’s also a good way to gauge how well they’re managing their diabetes and spot red flags, like irritability and low energy.

Look for signs that taking care of their diabetes is becoming more difficult, like trouble holding their hands steady for a blood glucose test or insulin shot, forgetting to take their medication, or not eating as well as they should be.

Have an honest discussion with your parent about their condition and care requirements. Be realistic about what you’re able to do as far as caregiving. Keep in mind your other responsibilities, the amount of time and energy needed to care for a senior with diabetes, and even whether or not you think you’ll be able to do things like administer an insulin injection or perform a finger prick. Not everyone has the stomach for it and that’s okay!

In-home care for diabetes

The right care can help keep your parent’s diabetes well-controlled and minimize the risk of life-altering complications. It also allows seniors with diabetes and other health issues to age in the comfort of their own home, which can also have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

A professional senior care provider can assist with:

  • healthy meal planning and preparation
  • medication, including insulin injections
  • blood glucose monitoring
  • medical appointments
  • exercise
  • other errands, such as groceries, picking up prescriptions, etc.

In-home care providers are also act as another set of eyes so that can catch changes in your parent’s condition when you’re not able to be there.

Talk to your parent about their needs and work together on a care plan that you’re all comfortable with. Good planning and the right help can make all the difference.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care




Article Resources
Diabetes Awareness Month Canada 2019. Canadian Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-awareness-month
Diabetes, 2017. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2018001/article/54982-eng.htm
Diabetes in Canada. (2017). https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/diabetes-canada-highlights-chronic-disease-surveillance-system.html

How Caring for Your Elderly Parent Is Affecting Your Job

News articles and statistics on caregiving and employment often focus on the losses suffered by companies when adult children take time off to care for their elderly loved ones. But what about the impact that caregiving has on the employee who’s trying to take care of work and their aging parent?

The Impact of Caregiving on Your Employment

It’s long been known that people who care for an aging parent deal with increased stress and can suffer from caregiver burnout. Poor sleep, anxiety, and less “me” time to pursue personal interests are just some of the issues that caregivers face. For working Canadians, the demands of caregiving are even worse and have a domino effect on the workplace. The result is more time off work and reduced productivity.

A recent Ryerson University study focused on the impact that caring for an aging parent has on workers. It looked at two groups of people in a caregiver role – those with senior care responsibilities and those in the sandwich generation who are juggling both childcare and senior care responsibilities.  The results of the study were somewhat surprising. The group with only senior care demands was more overwhelmed that the group juggling both. They reported more difficulty with work-life balance and were more negatively impacted overall.

Work and Caring for Your Aging Loved One

If you have children, chances are you’ve had to skip out of work early or take time off to look after your child, be it for an illness or injury, or a medical appointment. If you don’t have children, you’ve likely had a co-worker miss time for these same reasons. Most employers are understanding of parents and their childcare responsibilities. Many companies even offer assistance for parents, such as onsite daycare or paid family responsibility days. Unfortunately, people who don’t have kids often don’t get the same compassion or support when the needs of their aging loved one interferes with work.

The hope is that employers will use the information from this and other studies when considering benefits for employees in a family caregiver role. A better understanding of the profound impact that looking after an aging parent has on an employee and how it can affect their job may help foster a more family-friendly culture that offers the same consideration and assistance to those in a senior care role.

What to Do In The Meantime

While some employers are supportive of those with familial responsibilities outside of just childcare, we still have a long way to go. Where does that leave you if you have a job and an older parent in need of care? Fortunately, you have options.

Here are some ideas to make work-life balance easier so that adult children and their aging loved one gets the care they need:

  • Speak to your employer about your situation so they are aware of your caregiving obligations; being honest may help reduce job-related anxieties.
  • Look into any support that your employer may offer, such as flexible work arrangements, employee assistance programs, etc.
  • Share the responsibilities with other family members and friends – you don’t need to do it alone.
  • Find a caregiver support group online or in your area.
  • Take care of yourself – it’s critical to balancing your work and caregiving demands.
  • Hire a home care agency – home care services can be adjusted to fit your needs whether that’s occasional respite care, so you get a break or ongoing home care services.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources
Halinski M, Duxbury L, Higgins C. (2018). Working While Caring for Mom, Dad, and Junior Too: Exploring the Impact of Employees’ Caregiving Situation on Demands, Control, and Perceived Stress. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0192513X18777839
Government of Canada. (2016). Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities, tips for employed caregivers of family or friends. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/tips-caregivers.html#h2.5

Getting Around – One of the Biggest Challenges for Canadian Seniors

Of all the senior issues that make the news, there’s one big one that gets little attention. We’re talking about transportation.

This Non-Issue is Actually a Big Issue

When thinking about senior care, the focus is often on making sure seniors have a comfortable place to live, food on the table, and the medical care they need. Transportation is often considered a secondary issue, but not having access to transportation can prevent a senior from getting even the most basic care.

Not having easy and affordable access to transportation can:

  • prevent a senior from attending crucial medical appointments for chronic illness or after being discharged from a hospital
  • lead to isolation and loneliness (statistics show that seniors who don’t drive are considerably less likely to participate in social activities)
  • place added stress on seniors who may already be dealing with other issues, such as poverty and loneliness
  • make it difficult to get groceries, contributing to poor nutrition and health

This isn’t only a problem for seniors, but all Canadians and our healthcare system. Inability to get to an appointment is one the most common reasons given for medical appointment no-shows. Not only does the senior miss out on being seen by the doctor, but when they don’t show up, another patient suffers if sufficient time isn’t given to fill the open slot. In Canada, the patient no-show rate is estimated to be between 10 and 30 percent.

Limited Options

Chronic health issues, loss of driver’s license, and neighborhoods with limited access to public transportation are just some of the things preventing seniors from getting around. Cost is also a factor for many seniors.

While some Canadian cities are looking for better options geared at seniors, the problem is far from resolved. In the United States, ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft are contracting with healthcare agencies and insurance companies to set up patients with rides. Slowly, but surely, similar partnerships are being considered here. Unfortunately, many older adults shy away from using ride-hailing services because they don’t know how to use the digital interface to order a ride, be it on their smartphone or computer. Also, because you’re required to enter payment information into the app, fear of senior scams and data breaches are other reasons seniors don’t take advantage of this option.

So What Are Seniors to Do?

The inability to get around is often the driving force behind seniors having to move into assisted living facilities. With the majority of Canadians preferring to age in place, finding alternative transportation is crucial.

Here are some alternative transportation options for seniors:

  • Ride-hailing services – These provide an alternative to taxis and are sometimes the only option for getting around, depending where you live. You don’t need to be a computer wiz to use technology like your smartphone or or computer to order a ride, but basic skills are needed. Many senior centers offer workshops geared at teaching seniors the basics – helpful not just for transportation, but also for access to medical records and other services.
  • Volunteer driving programs – Some communities have organizations that provide driving services for seniors. Some are free, while others charge a fee. You can find information about these services in your area by dialing 211 from any phone in Ontario or visiting 211ontario.ca.
  • Public transit – If you live in a city, chances are you have a public transit system. The majority of municipal transit systems offer discounted rates for seniors. Information about fares and schedules are available online, by phone, or at your local bus or train station.
  • Para-transit – This is a shared ride, door to door service for people unable to use regular public transit because of a physical or functional disability. Para-transit programs vary depending where you live. In some communities, service is provided directly by the municipality or their transit commission, in others it’s contracted out.
  • Community shuttles – Some hospitals, medical centers, and community centers offer shuttle services for patients and seniors. Speak to staff at your healthcare facility or community center to find out what transportation assistance is available.
  • Senior care companions – Transportation and escort services are part of the home care services that we offer. The service can be catered to meet your individual needs. For instance, if you require more assistance than just a pick up or drop-off, our caregiver companions can help. This includes help preparing for an appointment, accompanying you to your visit, and even taking notes at important medical appointments for you and your family. Our caregiver can be there to help before, during, and after your appointment or outing, no matter how long that may take. If you or your loved one also requires help getting dressed for appointments and settled back in after, we can help with that, too.

Canada has a long way to go when it comes to ensuring that seniors have access to reliable and affordable transportation. We hope that this information makes getting around a little easier in the meantime.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care




Article Resources
Access to Travel. Government of Canada. (2013). https://www.accesstotravel.gc.ca/1.aspx?lang=en
Profile of seniors’ transportation habits. Statistics Canada. (2015). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-008-x/2012001/article/11619-eng.htm
The use of transportation by seniors in Canada. Statistics Canada. (2015). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/16-002-x/2010004/part-partie3-eng.htm
Seniors Get Around. Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility. (2019). https://www.ontario.ca/page/seniors-get-around
The Para-Transit Programs. Ontario Human Rights Commission. http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/whether-para-transit-services-provided-public-transit-services-cities-toronto-hamilton-london-and/para-transit-programs

Aging in Place: Things to Consider

Aging in place seems easy enough, in theory, but there’s more to it than just living in your home for the rest of your life.

Aging brings inevitable changes – some more challenging than others. More seniors want to stay at home and understandably so. Along with remaining in the comfort and familiarity of home, you also save a considerable amount of money each year.

Ponder this;

There are a few issues to consider when making the decision to age in place rather than moving to a senior care home:

  • If aging in place is your goal, you’ll need to consider your finances and the costs associated with remaining at home versus your income. If your only income will be coming from CPP, keeping up with home-related costs like mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance may not be easy. Will you be able to keep up and have money to cover any unexpected costs, like a leaky roof or broken water heater?
  • Getting around. Not all seniors are able or even want to drive for the rest of their lives. When the time comes to stop driving, you lose a lot of your independence. Consider how you will get around. Do you live near public transportation or have the budget to pay for taxis or car services? Do you have a strong support network close by in your family and friends who can get you where you need to go?
  • Your social network. Speaking of family and friends, socializing is one of the most important things to consider if you prefer to age at home. Socializing is pretty much built-in to daily life in most assisted living communities; there’s always someone there. Senior isolation is major issue in Canada and the rest of the world. Feelings of loneliness and the risk of depression, a worsening of physical and mental health, and even early death are known risks of senior isolation.
  • Your health. Even if you’re fit as a fiddle now, your future health needs to be considered if you want to remain in your home as you age. Consider any existing medical conditions and how they will change and affect you as you get older. Are your doctors close by and easy to get to? Is there a hospital nearby? Speak to your doctor about how your health is likely to change and any measures you can take now to keep you healthy enough to age in place.
  • Your home. Your home may work for you now, but will it be practical for you when you’re older? You need to consider the safety of your home and decide if it’s going to work for you in the future. Does your home have a lot of stairs? Do you have a shower that’s easy to get in and out of safely? Is your floor level and free of tripping hazards? Will you be able to access your laundry easily?

Things to Do to Prepare for Aging in Place

Along with the factors to consider that we just covered, here are some other things that you can do to help you prepare for aging in place:

  • Talk to your family. Talk to your adult children or other close family members about your plans to age in place. If possible, do it when you’re all together. This can help avoid confusion or tension should things change quickly, such as in the case of a crisis. The earlier you can discuss your plans and wishes with your loved ones, the better. Be frank about your wants and expectations, your finances, and other details that factor into your future. If you don’t have children or other family, consider a trusted friend or advisor, such as an attorney, who can help put your plans in place.
  • Prepare your home. Seniors and concerned family members often make the hasty decision to move to another home or an assisted living facility when health or mobility changes. An elderly care specialist or occupational therapist may be able to conduct a home safety inspection and make suggestions that can help you age in place safely. A few minor tweaks may be all that’s needed to make your home work for you, such as installing railings or a stair lift. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having the right tools to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as grabbers or adaptive clothing and shoes. If significant changes are needed, the sooner you know, the better you can prepare.
  • Learn about in-home care options. May people are surprised to learn that home care services aren’t limited to advanced home care assistance for seniors who are very ill or bedridden. The services offered by home care agencies cater to different needs and budgets. A professional caregiver can provide as much or as little assistance as you need with ADLs, such as meals, personal care, and housekeeping. They can also provide transportation to and from appointments or social activities and provide companionship to those who don’t have family or friends nearby to help prevent isolation.

With some advance consideration and planning, aging in place is possible even when life throws a few curveballs along the way.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Going south? Check out changes to OHIP for travellers

Contributed by Shehnaz Hussain, Intuitive Financial Solutions

Summer is over, and mature travellers are planning their winter getaways.  A recent Conference Board of Canada report reveals that although travel tends to decline with age, now Canadians over 74 are healthier, wealthier and more mobile than ever and this will continue to positively influence travel in the future.

Understand the ins and outs of your provincial health plan and travel insurance

Note: As of January 2020, Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) will no longer provide any coverage if a traveller gets sick or injured outside of their home province.

Make sure you know how long you can travel outside of your home province

Travellers can only leave their home provinces for a certain number of days per year and still maintain provincial health benefits—this varies by province.

Currently, residents of Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, BC, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland/Labrador can travel out of province up to 212 days. Residents of all other provinces and territories max out at 182 days.

If you stay out of province beyond the specified time period, you may have to deal with a waiting period to re-establish residency and get your benefits back.

Ensure you get the best travel insurance for your trip

The Conference Board report also states that in 2018, the volume of leisure trips to overseas destinations increased for the 5th year in a row, while travel to the US remained modest. As well, mature travellers taking more trips has created more opportunities for multi-generational travel and promoted a shift in the number of Canadians taking multiple trips in a year.

If you are skipping the US on your next trip, know that you can get Excluding USA Emergency Medical travel insurance. It’s less expensive than policies that include travel to the US.

If you are taking more than one trip in a year, a Multi Trip Annual Emergency Medical plan may be the most economical option. To save even more, you can buy a Multi Trip plan for the shortest trip in the year and add an extension if you take a longer trip.

Source: Conference Board of Canada, Outbound Canada, Travel Outlook: Caribbean & Mexico 2019-2023.  Share these articles to help your customers understand the importance of travel insurance.

  • Travel Outside Canada: How Provincial Health Plans Cover You Abroad
  • The Benefits of Multi Trip Annual Travel Insurance
  • Travel Medical Insurance for Seniors

Are Mobility Devices Covered? You Have Options

Mobility devices are crucial in helping seniors maintain their independence and they make it possible for a caregiver to assist them to move around in their homes. Without access to mobility devices, elderly persons risk a complete lack of independence and often, isolation which has been proven to significantly impact mental and physical well being, and mortality.

Seniors with mobility issues have special needs, and agencies like Living Assistance Services, provide caregivers who are knowledgeable in their use.

These devices can be costly, but fortunately, government-funded programs and private insurance can help cover most or all of the cost of devices.

The Assistive Devices Program (ADP)

Subject to a required application for a funding assessment that must be completed by an Authorized Registered Occupational Therapist (ADP), Ontario residents with a valid health card and a disability that requires the use of a mobility aid for six months or longer can get help paying for mobility devices. Upon approval of the application for funding by ADP, the program covers 75 percent of the cost of the device, so you only pay 25 percent.

If you receive financial support from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), ADP will cover 100 percent of the cost.

Devices that are covered by the program include:

  • manual and power wheelchairs
  • power scooters
  • wheeled walkers
  • power add-on devices that can be added to an existing manual wheelchair
  • positioning devices, such as head and back supports, cushions, etc.
  • forearm-crutches
  • replacements if your device is worn-out, your needs have changed, or you no longer fit

You can find out how to apply at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/mobility-aids

Private Insurance Plans

Some seniors opt to supplement their OHIP coverage with private insurance. While plans and health insurance providers vary in what is covered and how much of the cost is covered, many do offer partial coverage for the cost of mobility aids.

Check your insurance policy or contact your provider to find out which devices are covered by your plan.

If You Can’t Afford to Cover Your Share of the Cost

If you’re not able to afford to pay your portion of the cost for a mobility device, there are a number of volunteer and non-profit organizations in Ontario that may be able to help with financial assistance or by providing a mobility device free of charge. Some of these include:

  • March of Dimes Canada
  • Lions Clubs
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Royal Canadian Legion

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Article Resources:
Assistive Devices Program – Mobility Aids. https://www.ontario.ca/page/mobility-aids
Seniors and Aging – Assistive Devices. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/lifestyles/seniors-aging-assistive-devices.html

Sleep and Aging – Improving Sleep Quality in Older Adults

You would think that not needing to get up at the crack of dawn or lose sleep over work stress would be one of the biggest perks of being a senior. Unfortunately, poor sleep and sleep disorders are common in older adults.

Numerous studies have found that sleep patterns change as we age. Sleep becomes fragmented and many older adults find themselves up too early even though they feel tired. Certain medications, chronic pain, medical conditions, and mental health issues, such as depression, contribute to poor sleep. A person’s lifestyle and sleep environment can also make a good night’s sleep hard to come by.

Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just make you feel lousy, but it’s also been shown to have a negative impact on health. It can trigger or worsen feelings of sadness and anxiety, lead to cognitive decline, and increase the risk of serious medical conditions and early death. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to improve sleep quality and help you or your aging loved one wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Proven Ways to Improve Sleep without Pills

Before turning to sleeping pills, which have side effects, increase the risk of falls, and don’t address the cause of poor sleep, consider medication-free remedies for better sleep.

There are all kinds of natural remedies and lifestyle changes that have been proven to improve sleep, such as exercise and warm baths.

While our caregivers are able to provide home health care services when needed, they provide non-medical home care, too. This includes helping with all of these proven sleep remedies and other activities known to improve sleep.

How In-Home Care Can Help a Senior Get their ZZZs

Establishing a regular sleep schedule is an important part of sleep health. Part of that involves keeping active and resisting the urge to spend time in bed or sleeping during the day. For a senior who spends most of their time alone, this can be easier said than done.  A caregiver can help with this and more, including helping seniors:

  • stay active by accompanying them on walks or to other physical activities such as fitness classes
  • remain social and engage with others by escorting them on visits with friends or to social outings, or by offering regular companionship, such as playing games or going to a movie
  • ensure healthy meals are prepared and eaten 2 or 3 hours before bedtime so as not to interfere with sleep
  • help create a sleep-friendly environment, such as making sure bedding is clean, elevating your feet, blinds are drawn, and the room temperature is comfortable for sleep
  • assist with a soothing bedtime routine, such as a warm bath or a sponge bath or reading
  • get out in the sunlight, which helps with melatonin production and improves mood and the sleep-wake cycle
  • watching for side effects of medication that may be interfering with sleep

If you’re a senior who’s having trouble getting a good night’s rest or have noticed aging parent or loved one puttering about in the wee hours of the morning, an in-home caregiver may be able to help.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Article Resources
Jean-Philippe Chaput, Suzy L. Wong, Isabelle Michaud. Duration and quality of sleep among Canadians aged 18 to 79. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2017009/article/54857-eng.htm
Suzuki, Keisuke et al. “Sleep disorders in the elderly: Diagnosis and management.” Journal of general and family medicine, vol. 18,2 61-71. 30 Mar. 2017. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgf2.27
Jonathan Desaulniers, Sophie Desjardins, Sylvie Lapierre, and Alain Desgagné, “Sleep Environment and Insomnia in Elderly Persons Living at Home,Journal of Aging Research, vol. 2018, Article ID 8053696, 7 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8053696.