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


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Five Star Caregivers – How We Honour Our Great Caregivers

Congratulations Five Star and Service Award Winners!

It takes a special person to become a caregiver. Each day in the life of a home care provider is different and some days are especially challenging. At Living Assistance Services, we understand and appreciate what our employees do not only for the company, but for those who they care for. This is why every year at this time we celebrate our Five Star Caregivers with a luncheon and a gift for their outstanding service.

What Makes a Five Star Caregiver

The criteria used for selecting our Five Star Caregivers are:

  • Punctuality
  • Flexibility
  • A good work ethic
  • Praise and good feedback from clients
  • No complaints

These are valuable assets in an employee that are appreciated and expected by us and those who enlist our home care services. Monitoring performance throughout the year and encouraging open communication with both our employees and clients ensures great service and satisfaction to employees and clients alike.

Along with providing excellent service and being model employees, our Five Star Caregivers also possess qualities that go beyond a checklist: they’re wonderful human beings with a genuine heart and deep understanding of the various needs of those they care for. Most importantly, our caregivers possess intangible traits such as loving what they do and having a kind and caring personality.

A home care provider deals with different personalities that are affected by various circumstances and challenges that can change from day to day. As a good home care aid, they understand that those receiving home health care may feel vulnerable or scared and are able to show compassion and kindness particularly when things get challenging. They’re patient and professional, and able to handle even the most difficult situations while remaining calm, which often provides the comfort and reassurance that the care recipient needs.

Our Five Star Caregivers have a natural knack for understanding those they care for and their individual needs and capabilities. They’re respectful and mindful of the need for independence and encourage it, while still providing the support that the person receiving home care requires and allowing them the dignity they deserve.

We encourage those who enlist our home care services to choose their caregiver so that you can be sure that their personality is a good fit. This makes for a great experience all around; ensuring happy clients and employees. A win-win!

David Porter, CPCA


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Grey Divorce and the Value of Home Care for Divorced Seniors

There’s been an increase in the number of “silver separations” and “grey divorces” in Canada. These are terms coined by the media for divorce after the age of 55, which has been on a steady upswing in Canada over the past decade. A 2011 report by Statistics Canada showed that 266,080 Canadians between the ages of 55-59 were divorced and not in a common-law relationship. It’s a pretty safe bet that the numbers are even higher now.

Divorcing later in life is challenging for parents and their grown children. Along with dealing with the sadness that follows the end of a relationship, there’s the reality of facing the golden years alone.

The Challenges of Grey Divorce

When you spend a good part of your adult life as one half of a couple, it can be difficult to adjust to life on your own. It’s not just about getting used to a quiet household and not having your partner to lean on, but for many it’s about handling responsibilities of daily life that you’ve never had to. Think of a woman who was used to the role of the traditional wife who did all the cooking and cleaning and the man who handled all the finances and other “husbandly duties”. It’s not an easy position to be in, especially later in life when you may also be dealing with other issues related to aging and illness.

The Value of Home Care for Divorced Seniors

Home care services can help make the transition from married to single life easier for a senior. While still allowing you to maintain your independence, an in-home senior care provider can provide as much or as little help as you need. Home care services can be catered to meet your needs and fit your budget, whether you need help with something as simple as meal preparation or require more advanced home care because of mobility or health issues.

Some of the home care services offered that can be beneficial to a divorced senior include:

  • Light housekeeping, such as washing dishes, vacuuming, and changing sheets
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Errands, such as shopping and accompanying you to appointments
  • Help with correspondence

Home care providers can also help with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, and hygiene.

The Importance of Companionship

It’s not easy to go from having a constant companion to being on your own. This can be even harder later in life when your children and grandchildren are busy with their own lives and getting together with friends isn’t as easy as it once was. Seniors who live alone face a higher risk of isolation and loneliness, and the fear of being alone is a source of stress for many.

The importance of companionship cannot be stressed enough and this is another service that a home care agency can provide. Home care providers don’t just help with chores and the tasks of daily living, but they can also provide joyful companionship and drop in as little or as often as you like. This can mean stopping in for some conversation over a cup of tea or going for a walk or to the movies. Many who enlist the services of a home care provider go on to develop a strong bond with their caregiver that is often compared to that of a surrogate son or daughter.

Sometimes a friendly face or good chat really can make all the difference.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


Article Resources:
Marital Status: Overview, 2011. Statistics Canada.

Celebrating Easter and Passover with Help

Think that hosting a big family dinner is no longer a possibility as a senior who requires care? Think again! A senior home care provider’s duties are wide-ranging and can include the help you need to pull off a family dinner and help you celebrate Easter and Passover the way you always have.

How a Home Care Aide Can Help

Easter is special time of worship and/or traditions that many spend enjoying with family and friends, whether by hosting a big family dinner or attending church services, or both. As wonderful as the holiday can be, it can also be stressful and tiring, especially if you’re a senior who requires extra care or you’re caring for an aging parent. Fortunately, a professional caregiver can help in more ways than you realize.

Many think that the job of senior home care worker is limited to personal and home health care, when in actuality; a professional caregiver can take on many roles and assist with many of the tasks related to celebrating Easter and other holidays.

Some of the tasks that you can hire senior care provider to take on this Easter include:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking
  • Party planning
  • Decorating
  • Cleaning
  • Running errands

A senior personal support worker can also escort the care recipient or accompany them and their family to church, parties and dinners, and other celebrations so that this special time can be spent enjoying each other’s company and the festivities without the added stress and pressure of doing it all.

Senior Caregivers – There when it Matters Most

Holidays can be an especially lonely time for seniors whose family and friends aren’t close by or those who don’t get out much because of mobility and health issues. One of the most important roles that a senior care helper takes on is that of companion and friend. If spending Easter with loved ones isn’t possible, you can enlist the help of a senior home care provider to prepare a special meal and share this special time with. Joyful companionship allows you or your aging parent to enjoy friendly conversation, a home cooked meal, and other special Easter traditions, like reading from the bible or even painting Easter eggs.

Celebrating Easter and Passover at home or out and about doesn’t need to be difficult thanks to the many wonderful roles of a senior home care provider.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Hit the road! It’s Spring! Activities for seniors and their Caregivers

Spring is here and with the warmer weather our thoughts turn to Spring Break, vacations, and just getting out and enjoying the beauty of the season. Unfortunately, for those with elderly parents, planning trips of any length can be stressful or even seem impossible.

Mom and dad don’t need to be stuck in the house just because they require home care—you can take elderly care on the road! With the help of a qualified caregiver, your parents can continue to enjoy outings, whether a day trip or even a vacation in Florida.

Taking Elderly Care on the Road

Home care services for seniors can be catered to meet your elderly parents’ needs at home or away so that they can continue to get out of the house and travel as they please. Hiring an elderly care provider can also make it possible for you to take family vacations together. This means being able to make memories together as a family that you will all cherish forever thanks to qualified senior care that takes the pressure off so you can focus on enjoying each other.

Having a senior care provider accompany your parents on a trip, whether they’re travelling with or without you, will allow them to continue to receive the same assisted living care while away from home. This includes help with day to day tasks like bathing and medications, as well as assistance with things like airline or hotel check-ins and getting out and exploring.

Are you your parent’s primary caregiver? Even if you provide all of their care and aren’t using professional home care services, you can still hire a caregiver to help during a family trip. Vacations are a time for relaxation and hiring an elderly care provider will give you a well-deserved break so no one has to miss out on any of the fun.

Fun Outings for Seniors

Mobility and health issues don’t need to stop your aging parents from getting out and enjoying the beauty of springtime. By planning ahead and ensuring that a place is accessible or senior-friendly and hiring a qualified senior care provider to accompany your parents, local and distant travel is possible.

Here are some fun outings for seniors to consider this spring:

  • Road trips
  • Family picnics at a park or conservation area
  • Outdoor concerts
  • Winery tours
  • Visiting friends/family in other towns, provinces or countries
  • Vacations/travel
  • Organized tours for seniors

With some planning and the help of a qualified elderly care provider, your aging parents’ travelling days don’t have to be over. New adventures and memories are waiting!

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day With Limited Mobility

You don’t need to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day! While many people are looking forward to pub crawls and green beer, seniors who face mobility issues may feel that this fun holiday just isn’t something they can enjoy any longer. Fortunately, that’s not the case at all! You don’t need the luck of the Irish; just a little help from an experienced caregiver!

How a Caregiver Can Put the Fun Back into St. Paddy’s Day

No longer having a driver’s licence, living alone, and having mobility issues are all things that can take the enjoyment out of holidays and celebrations for seniors. An elderly care agency can help make days like St. Patrick’s Day fun again for seniors who may find it hard to get around.

A professional home care assistant can help with everything from getting to and from an event to accompanying a senior to various community festivities. Not the party animal type? No worries because you can enlist an in home caregiver to pop by and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day with you or your aging loved one at home with a special meal or St. Paddy’s Day themed board games. The flexibility of home care services makes it easy to celebrate how you want!

Fun St. Patrick’s Day Activities for seniors with Mobility Issues

With the assistance of one of our home care staff, seniors with mobility issues can enjoy just about any St. Patrick’s Day celebration and chances are there are loads of fun events planned in your community for this holiday.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade
  • Have lunch at the local senior’s community center
  • Invite friends over for games and snacks with a St. Patrick’s theme
  • Catch a movie at the Irish Film Festival (If you’re not in Toronto, check your local theatre)
  • Enjoy an afternoon or Irish music or dance at the many events in your community

Home care services can be catered to suit every need and budget. There’s no reason to spend this fun holiday alone or stuck inside when an assisted living caregiver can help with everything from transportation to and from events to shopping and meal preparation for a fun celebration at home.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

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


Article Resources:

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


Article Resources:

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


Article Resources:

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


Article Resources: