How Caring for Your Elderly Parent Impacts Your Health

Caring for an aging parent has become more difficult than it once was as we are in the throes of what has been coined the “sandwich generation”.

The term “sandwich generation” refers to a generation of people, usually middle-aged, who care for their aging parents while still supporting their own children.

Elderly Care Usually Falls on the Daughter

According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, women do up to 80 percent of the caregiving. Trying to provide elderly care for a parent(s) while also supporting a child and balancing work and life responsibilities can quickly take a toll on your physical and mental health, as well as your relationships with loved ones and even colleagues.

The Impact of Caring for Loved Ones

Several studies have confirmed links between caregiving and psychological and physical health problems, noting that the intensity of the caregiving greatly impacts the caregiver’s health. Providing home care for your parent becomes even more challenging as they age or when they’re dealing with chronic illness.

A survey by Statistics Canada found that caregivers reported physical and emotional symptoms brought on by the stress of caregiving, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Anger and irritability
  • Feeling alone or isolated
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems

It’s not surprising that the stress of being the one providing elderly care for a parent while also trying to juggle parenting and work leads to more illness, sick days from work, and in some cases an extended leave of absence to deal with medical emergencies and illness.

Meet Jane

Jane is a prime example of the sandwich generation and its effects. When her elderly mother was no longer able to live on her own, there was no question in her mind that the best place for her was at home with Jane, her husband, and two sons. She was sure that she could balance her career, being a mother and wife, and a caregiver. At first, it seemed manageable, but within a couple of months Jane was exhausted. Even though her sons were teenagers, they still required rides to hockey practice and other activities. Her husband did what he could to help with his long hours, but most of the responsibility fell on Jane.

Everyone could see it was all taking a toll on her but she continued to put on a brave face and do it all until recently when she broke down and admitted that she was feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and trapped. You could hear the guilt in her voice when she admitted that she felt like she just wanted to run away from it all.

Getting Help with Home Care

Jane, like many others in her situation, thought that private home care was too expensive or only for those who required very advanced home care because of illness. Fortunately, that’s not at all the case; home care services can be catered to your specific needs and budget. After going through the different senior care services offered, she was able to get help that worked not just for her elderly mother, but her entire family.

Respite care allows Jane to take a break from the stresses of caregiving as little or as often as she needs each week. Jane is now able take her sons to practice and even have a few hours to run errands or unwind over coffee with a friend, all while knowing her mother is in the capable hands of a senior care professional.

She learned that home health care agencies have services that she can adapt with her mother’s changing health so that she always gets the best possible home care.

It may not be easy to hand over some of the responsibility, but getting professional home care assistance has helped Jane balance the challenges of caregiving and her other responsibilities and it can do the same for you.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources:
http://www.cwhn.ca/node/40811
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-006-x/2013001/article/11858-eng.htm

Hearing and Vision Loss as We Age

We rely on our hearing and vision for everything from communicating to navigating the world around us. As we age, these two important senses begin to decline. According to the Canadian Hearing Society, hearing loss is the most prevalent chronic condition affecting older adults and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) reports that age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Canada. Dealing with a decline in either of these can be difficult, and many seniors experience both.

What causes these issues as we age?

Gradual hearing loss as we age is called presbycusis. Approximately 30 to 35 percent of adults between 65 and 75 have hearing loss and the number is estimated at 40 to 50 percent in those over 75. Along with aging, hearing loss can also be caused by genetics, certain medications, ear infections, and medical conditions.

Though age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause, vision loss can also be caused by cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes.

The impact of hearing and vision loss on seniors

Hearing and vision loss can have a several negative social and emotional consequences, such as depression and social isolation. It can also impact a person’s safety and cause mobility limitations. This has been shown to be especially difficult for older adults, often leading to a poor quality of life.

Every day activities can become difficult for someone whose vision or hearing is declining, such as:

  • Cooking and preparing meals
  • Exercising
  • Socializing
  • Medication reminder
  • Attending medical appointments
  • Light Housekeeping

Home care services for those with hearing or vision loss

If you or an aging loved one is living with hearing and/or vision loss and finding certain tasks difficult, a home care provider can help.  Some of the home care services we provide that can be beneficial include:

  • Help with meal preparation
  • Medication reminder
  • Light Housekeeping
  • Accompanying the care recipient to medical or social appointments
  • Shopping
  • Help with correspondence

A caregiver can also help improve household organization and assist in minimizing the risk of falls by tidying up, ensuring the floor is clear of objects, and leaving lights on. And, our services are flexible and easily adapted to suit your changing needs.

One of the main advantages of in home care over assisted living facilities for a person with vision or hearing loss is the ability to remain in surroundings you are familiar with. A qualified caregiver can provide as much or as little help as needed to help you or a loved one continue to enjoy excellent quality of life, with respect and dignity.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources:
https://canadianaudiology.ca/for-the-public/causes-of-hearing-loss/
https://canadianaudiology.ca/for-the-public/causes-of-hearing-loss/
http://www.cnib.ca/en/about/media/vision-loss/pages/default.aspx
http://www.chs.ca/causes-and-types-hearing-loss

What is the Secret to Maintaining Client Loyalty?

You would think that with all the competition in the non-medical home care that somebody out there would be doing things the way Living Assistance Services does…but nobody seems to. It is probably because our Director, David Porter, strives to maintain a system that is personalized, with the emphasis on building relationships.  And not just with our clients, with our caregivers, too.

Many agencies are successful in getting clients but how long do they actually keep them?  Keeping clients is a matter of providing personalized service, not just signing people up. Our track record in keeping clients far surpasses our competitors. They may keep their clients for merely a few days, weeks or months while we keep ours for years.  How do we do it?  “Relationship building”.

Here are some of the key steps taken by Living Assistance Services to ensure strong relationships with clients:

First, we go to the home or hospital with at least two carefully selected caregivers to meet with the client and/or care recipient and their family. This allows the care recipient to personally interview and select the caregiver that they are most comfortable with. Some of our competitors will do the same thing, (if they are pushed to do so by a client), but no one presents this as a standard policy in their literature the way we do.

Perhaps most importantly, we stay in very close contact with our caregivers, clients and/or care recipients via weekly telephone calls, letters or email correspondence. As often as possible, the Director will conduct personal visits to the homes of clients and/or care recipients.  This system seems so simple, yet it is amazing just how many agencies do not bother to do it and, accordingly, fail to discover problems until it is too late.

We have learned that most clients require services for a long time and they will stay with us as long as they know that we will be responsive to their individual needs and that they will always receive top quality service. If a client does not know anyone at an agency on a personal level or if they always reach someone different when telephoning, (as they do with so many of the big agencies), they are going to look elsewhere for assistance.  We make sure that our clients know us and are comfortable calling us anytime, for any reason, instead of feeling like they have to call someone else.

Be sure to ask other agencies how long their average client stays with their agency. Do not accept a “hip-pocket” answer.  Ask if they actually keep these statistics.  If they do not, it will tell you a lot about their priorities. If their answer is “less than a year”, you are not dealing with an agency that truly understands “relationship building”.

Pauline Lyons, CPCA
VP and Director 

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Leaving the Hospital Today?

Planning ahead to have the help you need after surgery is important, but it’s easy to overlook the details when you’re dealing with health issues. Though some notice is certainly better, we are able to arrange help for you within 24 to 48 hours if needed.

How we do it

If you need help with home care after surgery, all it takes is a phone call and we can arrange a complimentary nurse’s assessment for you and an introduction to two caregivers—one of which will start as soon as possible.

Our registered nurse (RN) assesses your needs and we select two caregivers that we feel have the right experience and personality to match your needs, free of charge.  Next, if you wish, we will visit you with the two caregivers so that you can be involved in the selection of the person who will be providing your home health care while you recover.

Home health care services after surgery

Our qualified and compassionate caregivers are able to provide the help that you need after surgery. The services that we can help with include:

  • Personal care, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, etc.
  • Meal preparation, including nutritious meal planning, and storing meals
  • Light housekeeping, such as washing dishes, changing sheets, etc.
  • RN supervised care, including medication administration, wound care and changing dressings, etc.
  • Errands, such as grocery shopping, prescription pickups, escort to medical appointments

There for you at the hospital and at home

We are able to provide supplementary care before you even leave the hospital. If you don’t have someone to accompany you home when you leave the hospital, we can arrange to have your caregiver there. This means having someone to help get you settled in after surgery so you can start focusing on your recovery right away.

We are here for you, whether you’re leaving the hospital soon or are planning for an upcoming surgery. Contact Living Assistance Services to arrange for your free in home health care assessment with our registered nurse.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Father’s Day 2018

Father’s Day is a day to celebrate the most important man in your life, but it can be bittersweet when your father is at a vulnerable age. Seeing your father frailer and unable to do many of the things he was once able to is difficult. He’s always been the rock of the family, after all.

This is often just as difficult for a father. As the rock of the family and the one always expected to be “strong”, the challenges that come with aging can be difficult to accept. Even more difficult is accepting help, especially when it comes to personal care. Assistance with personal hygiene is something that many consider demeaning. Fathers often find receiving this type of care from their children especially hard after a lifetime of being the protector and caregiver.

Honouring Who He Was and Who He Is

Regardless of the changes that come with aging or illness, it’s important to remember that your father is still the parent and should be treated as such. It may seem as the sort of thing that should go without saying, but it can be easy to forget when the roles are reversed and you’re caring for them much the way they did for you as a child.

On Father’s Day and every day, it’s important to treat him with respect and be mindful of preserving his dignity. Aging and illness may have caused some changes, but regardless of these changes, your dad—the rock of your family—is still there.

The Gift of Elder Care

Professional elder care can make this vulnerable time easier on dad and the family. In-home care allows your father to age with dignity and maintains as much independence as possible. Our elder care services are vast and versatile, and easily adapted to suit dad’s needs.

Our qualified caregivers are able to take over the tasks that you or your father might find uncomfortable, such as dressing, bathing, and other types of personal care. We know that you’d do anything for your father and that helping with these tasks is an act of love and nothing to be embarrassed about. Even still, many men have trouble with this and often find it easier and more acceptable to receive this type of help from a professional rather than their own son or daughter.

An important part of preserving your aging parent’s dignity is allowing them to have a say in their care and continue to make their own decisions. This is why we’re proud to allow the care recipient the opportunity to choose their own elder care professional. Choosing someone that they feel comfortable with and having control over their care can make it easier to accept help with personal care.

This Father’s Day, celebrate and honour the man your father was and who he still is.

Happy Father’s Day!

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Seniors’ Month – June 2018

June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario. Throughout the month, different communities will be holding events to celebrate seniors and all that they contribute. This year’s theme is “Now’s the time to start something new”. The theme highlights that you’re never too old to start something new and that aging doesn’t prevent us from leading fulfilling lives.

At Living Assistance Services, we’re especially excited about this year’s theme because everything we do is to help seniors continue to live fulfilling lives by providing the help they need to do so, regardless of any challenges they face.

In honor of Senior’s Month in Ontario, we want to showcase a few of our awe-inspiring clients who embody this theme in every way.

Meet some of our inspiring seniors

Gert, 93

Gertrude has been using our in-home care services since her hip replacement surgery almost 7 years ago. While she can’t get around as easily as she once did, that hasn’t stopped her from trying new things. Since becoming our client, Gertrude has joined a senior’s fitness group, taken a workshop to learn how to use an iPad, and recently, with the help of her caregiver, who is “just like a daughter to her”, organized a ladies bridge group that meets every week! Age is certainly not slowing her down and we’re happy to do our part so that she can keep on doing her thing.

Paul, 76

Paul has been one of our clients since he became a widower 2 years ago. Like a lot of people who have spent most of their lives as a part of a couple, Paul admitted to feeling lost when his wife passed away and “not even knowing how to use an ATM or make a meal”. Every single day since starting this phase of his life has been an example of how you can always start something new. We have watched him not only learn to use that ATM, but Paul also enrolled in cooking classes at the local grocery store where he’s learned to make several exotic dishes—a few of which his home care professional has had the pleasure of tasting on her visits! It turns out he has recently started something new again, this time with a lovely woman he met in cooking class! We continue to be inspired by Paul and other seniors who find themselves navigating this season of their lives with gusto.

Janice, 84

With all of her family living outside of the GTA, Janice enlisted our help being diagnosed with a chronic medical condition in 2013. Her health issues require regular in-home health care services, but rather than seeing that as a hindrance, Janice has embraced this new phase of her life. She calls her caregiver her “partner in crime” because of all the things they do together. Janice admitted that she threw herself “a bit of a pity party” when her health began to decline and she realized that she needed home care. She beams now when she talks about what a “godsend” her caregiver has been. With her help, Janice has been able to attend fundraising events at her church and even started baking cookies for their bake sales and making crafts for their holiday bazaars.  They enjoy weekly lunches out and play cards on the balcony when the weather turns warm—something she just learned to do recently having never played cards before!

Thank you for letting us be a part of your lives and adventures

Living Assistance Services began with desire to help people grow older in their own homes safely and independently. Every day we are honoured to be able to do this by offering flexible services provided by outstanding senior care professionals who embody what we stand for.

We want to thank all of our senior clients for the wisdom, experiences, and inspiration they share with us each and every day. We have spent the past 18 years providing senior care in the GTA and have had the pleasure of meeting many amazing seniors who continue to inspire us to provide the best care we can.

This month and every month, we celebrate you and all you do.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Why Women Live Longer Than Men

According to the most recent information from Statistics Canada, women are living 4 years longer on average than men. Researchers have found reasons why women may live longer than men. While genetics may play a small role in women’s longevity, lifestyle has a lot to do with it.

Oh How Things Have Changed!

An American study published in 1976 listed several reasons why men had a 60 percent higher mortality rate than women. Men were more likely to die from heart disease, emphysema, and lung cancer because they were smoking more than women. They also had higher death rates of accidents, suicide, and cirrhosis of the liver, which the researchers attributed to men engaging in behaviours that were encouraged or accepted more in men than women in society, such as being adventurous, acting unafraid, drinking alcohol, and using guns.

Well, times have changed. But while women may be more “adventurous” or “unafraid” than they were 40+ years ago, they are still outliving men in Canada and most of the world. Why? Because women take better care of themselves:

  • They eat better
  • They get more exercise
  • They socialize more
  • They see the doctor more often
  • They’re more sensitive to bodily discomforts
  • They’re more willing to report health issues

All of these are preventative behaviours that result in better physical and emotional health.

How Home Health Care Services Can Help You Live Healthier and Longer

Regardless of your sex, enlisting home care services can help you enjoy a healthier lifestyle in every way. Our senior care givers can ensure that you eat nutritious and delicious meals with meal planning and preparation. They’re also able to accompany you to doctor’s appointments and even social engagements. Our friendly senior care givers are also available for joyful companionship, which means having someone to socialize with even when you’re far away from family and friends or unable to get out much due to illness. Never underestimate the benefits of social engagement when it comes to your health!

All of those preventative behaviours that are helping women live longer than men are things that a qualified home care professional can help you with—and all in the comfort of your home.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources:
https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2014012/article/14127-eng.htm
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0097840X.1976.9936063

Making Mother’s Day 2018 a Day to Remember

Any mother will tell you that the best Mother’s Day present you can give is simply being present.

Mother’s Day, or any day really, can be difficult for adult children whose roles have shifted as the result of aging or illness. Taking on the role of caregiver for the woman who always cared for you isn’t easy and even less so when you’re feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility or just saddened by the challenges that come with aging. This day can also be difficult for those who don’t have children to celebrate with or those who are unable to spend the day with their children because of distance or other challenges.

Making Mother’s Day Special: How a Caregiver Can Help

Though not a son or daughter by blood, professional caregivers often take on the role of a son or daughter. It’s not surprising given the amount of time that a home health care provider spends with the care recipient. The role often entails more than just providing home health care; many provide companionship as well. All of these things lead to a meaningful bond built on compassion, trust, and respect.

Whether it’s attending a Mother’s Day brunch at a favourite restaurant or just spending time together playing cards and enjoying a cup of tea; a caregiver can be there to help make the day special in the absence of a son or daughter to celebrate with.

For children who have taken on the role of their mother’s caregiver, finding the time or energy to make the day special can be hard, especially if there are mobility issues or illness involved. Home health care workers offer respite care and other services that provide the family caregiver with the help they need to celebrate the day free of stress. From help with getting your mother to and from a restaurant or other outing, to help preparing a special meal, a caregiver can help you give your mother the best present of all this Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day from Living Assistance Services.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

The Growing Burden of Unpaid Senior Care in Canada

Seniors now outnumber children in Canada and with the baby boomer population booming, there are more seniors than ever requiring care. While Canada certainly offers some options for senior care, more and more family members and friends are taking on the responsibilities of caregiving, often whether they’re financially or emotionally able to or not.

Family Caregivers in Ontario – The Surprising Stats

There’s nothing most people wouldn’t do for their loved ones and many are happy to step up to the plate to look after their aging parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, few realize the financial and emotional burden of providing elderly care for a family member.

The following are some eye-opening statistics from the most recent General Social Survey by Statistics Canada:

  • Approximately 3.3 million Ontarians are family caregivers.
  • 5 million caregivers are juggling caregiving and paid employment
  • 29 percent of those balancing work and caregiving have missed an average of 6 days and 30 percent have been late or had to leave work early because of caregiving duties.
  • 15 percent of family caregivers had to cut down work hours to accommodate the caregiving needs of a loved one.
  • Almost 3 in 10 family caregivers perform medical treatments, such as injections, tube feedings, and wound care.
  • 1 percent (33, 000) left their jobs voluntarily or involuntarily because of caregiving duties.

For many, providing elderly care for loved ones means having to deal with significant additional stress, change their jobs, turndown promotions, or even forget about pursuing other opportunities because of caregiving. Sadly, one million of those surveyed admitted that they felt they had no choice in taking on the role of caregiver. So, along with the obvious financial implications comes the emotional toll and inevitable resentment of being in this position. It’s not in any way a reflection of how they feel about their loved ones, of course; is simply not an easy position to be in no matter how much you love someone.

For the person receiving care, feeling as if you’re burdening your child or grandchild isn’t easy either. This is why enlisting home care assistance is so important for you and for them.

Some of Our Clients Get Personal

The following are examples of the burden of family caregiving at play provided by some of our clients.

Muffy R. (Daughter)

“Even as a single father, dad made sure I always had everything I needed growing up, even working two jobs to pay for university and teacher’s college.  His heart attack in my second year teaching really slowed him down. I took time off to help him recover from surgery, but he hasn’t been the same. Three years of trying to juggle teaching and caring for dad resulted in having to turn down a promotion to Vice Principle at my school and eventually stress leave for me. My dad didn’t want to go to any of the living assisted facilities near me and I didn’t think his pension and my pay would be enough to cover private home care. I’m so glad I called Living Assistance Services on a whim after an especially stressful day! Being able to pick only the home care services he actually needs and occasional respite care for me to attend work functions has given me my life back. I’m so grateful.”

Todd S. (Grandson)

“My Papa helped raise me when my dad left and when he got older and sick I had to take turns with my mom and sister taking care of him. I don’t mind doing it most of the time because I love him so much and I don’t complain because he always took care of me, but this year it’s been hard. Hockey is my life and I was supposed to go away to All Star hockey camp for March Break and was so excited, but when we were trying to plan it all out, my mom told me there was no way I could go because she couldn’t take more time off work to take care of Papa and my sister couldn’t do it all alone. I know it’s not his fault but I was so upset with him for a while. Now that mom has your caregiver coming to help it’s been so much easier for us. We’re already planning how she can help next year so I can go to hockey camp and even Papa seems happier. Thank you so much from my mom, sister, Papa and me.”

Give us a call to learn more about the home care services we offer. Home health care services and respite care for the caregiver can ease the burden of family home care.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources:
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-652-x/89-652-x2013001-eng.htm#a17

 

IT PAYS TO PLAN AHEAD!

If you ask a retired person what surprised them most about retirement, most will tell you it was the unexpected costs. Contrary to popular belief, OHIP is not universal health care by any stretch; there’s no such thing as universal health care.

It’s easy to see how one can be misled with doctor visits and hospital stays being covered throughout the first part of our lives, but as the years move on our health care requirements change. The risk of chronic illness increases significantly after 50, leading to a need for more prescriptions, assisted living devices like canes and walkers, and other expenses that are not entirely covered by OHIP, if at all.

What Does OHIP Cover for Seniors?

What OHIP covers for seniors depends on several factors, such as your income and whether or not you have private insurance. These things determine what will be covered and whether fully or partially.

The Ontario Drug Benefit program covers the cost of most of the drugs listed on the Ontario Drug Benefit formulary. In 2014, the average senior household was paying $500 out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each year.

Other expenses that are not fully covered, if at all, by OHIP include:

  • Transportation
  • Assistive devices
  • Medical supplies
  • Accessibility modifications
  • Physiotherapy

With costs increasing and private and public resources being steadily reduced, planning for your senior care has never been more crucial.

A Home Care Agency vs. LHIN Home Care

A common misconception is that home health care services are covered by our government. The reality is that only very basic home care services are covered and may only be partially covered, if at all, depending on your circumstances.

Home care services are a necessity, not a luxury, and worth planning for.

Professional home care services offer more flexibility than the home care provided by LHIN (Local Health Integration Network). You and your family can chose as much or as little help as you need and make changes as needed along the way when you enlist the services of a home care agency. We also encourage you to choose your caregiver. Having the same caregiver allows you to build trust and develop a genuine friendship with your caregiver, making for a more pleasant experience all around. Also, the consistency makes it easier for your caregiver to provide you with exactly the care you need. There is no guarantee that you will get the same PSW every visit when LHIN is coordinating your care and the services covered are minimal and often limited to very basic home health care even if you require more. For many, getting the absolute minimum elderly care needed requires dealing not only with LHIN, but other community services and organizations.

The home care services we offer include many of the tasks that are not offered by LHIN, including:

  • Transportation
  • Escorting to appointments
  • Shopping and other errands
  • Light housekeeping
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • RN supervised care
  • Joyful companionship

It’s important to plan ahead and do your homework about the many unexpected costs that many seniors face.

We’re here to help.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

 

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care