Do you know the procedures for caring for someone with an infectious illness such as COVID-19? We do!

Older adults have a significantly higher risk of complications from infectious diseases, such as Covid-19, including death.

As adult children or grandchildren, we want to do our best to protect and care for our elderly loved ones. When it comes to infectious diseases, however, their needs are likely to be beyond the scope of a family caregiver. They require the knowledge of a trained home health care provider.

Providing your elderly loved one with the best in-home care

Seniors require additional measures of care and protection when it comes to infectious diseases, such as Covid-19. This is the case even if their symptoms are mild and they have been advised by their doctor to treat at home rather than going to the hospital.

Providing this care presents family caregivers with certain hazards, such as getting infected themselves or passing the infection to someone else in the family, such as a spouse or child. It’s near impossible to practice physical distancing or isolating when you are the primary caregiver!

In circumstances like these, professional home health care is often the best way to go for all involved.

How professional in-home care helps seniors with Covid-19

Our caregivers and nurses are trained to care for those with infectious diseases, as well as additional challenges that can arise if your loved one is also living with other conditions, such as dementia.

As skilled health care professionals, our staff has been trained in identifying and practicing droplet and contact precautions in various situations. They are also equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to protect themselves and others in the household.

Their training and experience also enables them to recognize any signs of decline in the care recipient’s condition, which can be difficult to catch by an untrained eye. Take respiratory symptoms for example, which can be masked or exacerbated by co-occurring conditions, such as COPD.

Our caregivers are also able to help your loved one maintain a clean environment and proper personal hygiene, which is key when it comes to infectious diseases. They can also ensure that your loved one gets the nutrition and medication they need to help fight the infection and reduce the risk of complications.

Other ways our caregivers can help

We’re here for you with caregivers who are able to provide not only RN-supervised home health care, but also other tasks that can help make life easier for seniors when illness strikes.

Some of the other senior care services we provide include:

  • Contactless shopping and drop-off for groceries, medications, and supplies
  • Chronic disease care for any coexisting conditions, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc.
  • Escorting to medical appointments
  • Companionship to help combat loneliness and isolation
  • Supplementary care in hospitals and other care facilities

Article sources

  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
  • IPAC Recommendations for Use of Personal Protective Equipment for Care of Individuals with Suspect or Confirmed COVID-19. Public Health Ontario. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/updated-ipac-measures-covid-19.pdf?la=en

How to Balance Caring for an Elderly Parent While Working From Home during the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you’re one of the 26 percent of Canadians looking after an elderly parent, chances are your days were already complicated before the coronavirus pandemic changed the way we live. These days, managing work and caregiving – and all your other responsibilities – is likely even more complex.

The added stressors to daily life

The pandemic has changed the way we do just about everything, from the way we work to how we grocery shop and clean our homes.

Juggling senior care duties with work can be challenging enough on “normal” days, but how do you manage now when you’re trying to work from home?

Due to physical distancing, many family caregivers aren’t able to get the outside help from other family and friends that they may have relied on before. How do you work efficiently under the same roof with your elderly parent(s) or in-law(s) who require your care and attention? What if you’re also having to homeschool your children at the same time?

Honestly, it’s not going to be easy, but with some careful planning and a little – okay, a lot – of patience, it can be done.

Tips for working from home while providing senior care for a loved one

Here are some things to consider as you try balance working from home while also caring for an elderly parent.

Set aside time each day to talk with your parent

Your parent may not have the stress of work, childcare, and an endless stream of bleak bad news related to Covid-19 and the economy weighing on them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the stress.

From picking up on your mood and any tension in the home to worrying about your health and wellbeing – as parents do – your elderly parent is probably feeling stressed, too. This stress can manifest in various ways. Your parent may act sad and withdrawn one moment and agitated and needy the next.

Listen to their concerns, remain calm, and explain what’s going on and what the plan is for the day. Just taking a few minutes to connect with your elderly parent before you start working can help set the tone for the rest of the day.

Create a routine for your parent

Consider their pre-pandemic routine, from what time they were having their meals to what TV shows they watched. Try to recreate that predictable routine for them as much as possible, but tweaking as needed to accommodate your own needs and responsibilities, too.

There are things you can do to make the routine easier for both of you. This will limit the number of times your parent may need to interrupt your work and keep them from worrying about being a burden:

  • Prepare meals for a few days in advance.
  • Set timers on the TV for their shows to come on automatically.
  • Leave water, snacks, the remote control, and other items handy so they have access to them.

Establish boundaries

It’s only natural for your elderly parent to want to spend time with you. They love you, after all! Also, depending on when they retired and their own experiences, the concept of working from home may be something they have trouble grasping. This can make it hard for them to understand why you’re home, yet not able to spend extra time with them.

You’ll need to establish clear boundaries if you want to be productive.

To do this:

  • Let them know that your work responsibilities haven’t changed even though you’re working from home.
  • Explain how you will be doing your job and what’s expected of you to help them understand why you can’t be disturbed unless absolutely necessary.
  • Offer clues that you’re not to be interrupted, such as when your home office door is closed or when you’re on the phone or computer.
  • Go over what warrants an interruption, such as help getting up or going to the bathroom if they have mobility issues.

Consider professional home care services

Physical distancing and self-isolation recommendations prevent you from getting help from other family members who live outside of your household, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.

Our caregivers are trained in proper sanitizing and germ control procedures and able to provide safe and effective in-home senior care during the coronavirus pandemic.

A caregiver can come into your home to assist your elderly parent with tasks of daily living, such as hygiene and grooming, dressing, and feeding. They’re also able to take on responsibilities, such as meal preparation and light housekeeping, so that you can work uninterrupted.

We’ve also introduced a new service to assist our clients during this challenging time, called STOP, Drop, and Leave. To help you and your aging parent, a caregiver can pick up groceries, prescriptions, and other supplies and then leave them at your door, eliminating the need to go out in public and minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

RN-supervised home health care is also available for seniors living with chronic illness, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Be honest with your employer and colleagues about your situation

Talking to your employer and colleagues about your child care responsibilities is the norm, but few people discuss elder care responsibilities.

Caring for an elderly loved one is challenging and often unpredictable, especially if your loved one is living with a chronic illness. This can be especially disruptive to your schedule when you’re working from home, making open communication with your employer and coworkers crucial.

Let them know about the challenges you’re facing and how you plan to handle them as they arise. Always take the time to follow up afterwards if something comes up that requires you to step away from your desk or miss a call.

Take care of yourself, too

It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends when you have so much on your plate. Living in uncertain times like these certainly doesn’t help.

Cut yourself some slack and don’t try to do it all alone. Caring for yourself is important and will help you to better care for your loved ones.

Set aside time to unwind even if it means having to enlist respite care for a few hours once a week or hire a caregiver to run errands for your parent to free up some of your time.

These things can help you reduce your stress, avoid caregiver burnout, and improve your productivity.

If you’d like to learn more about our services and how we can help you care for your aging parent during this time, contact us by phone or email anytime.

We’re here for you.

Tel: 1.855.483.CARE (2273)

Email: info@LAServices.ca

Pet Adoptions During This Time: How to find a furry companion while self-isolating

If ever we could use unconditional love, support, and companionship, it’s now and who better to provide it than a pet.

Research has shown time and time again that contact with pets provides numerous benefits for our mental and physical health, including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased happiness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness

For seniors, having a pet has been shown to help older adults cope with isolation. Given the current climate and the recommendation to physical distance and social isolate, there’s no better time to consider adopting a pet.

How to adopt a pet when most of the country is shut down

While there is no better time to share your love with a furry friend, finding a pet to adopt when the country is at a standstill due to the pandemic can make it seem impossible.

Animal shelters, such as local SPCA animal centers are currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, but shelters aren’t the only option for seniors who are looking to adopt a pet.

Many animal rescues are still open to adoptions and have protocols in place to help keep you and their staff safe during this time.

Animal rescues are non-profit organizations run by caring volunteers who take in animals in need and help find them loving forever homes.

Animal rescue groups generally focus on a specific type or breed of companion animals, usually dogs or cats. You can find pets of all ages and breeds in rescues.

An online search or call to a local vet can direct you to pet rescues in your area. On occasion, vet clinics have pets in their care that are in need of a home.

Occasionally, people looking to rehome a pet post on Facebook groups and online classified sites, such as Kijiji.

Things to consider before adopting a pet

Pets make the world a better place. For all that they do for us, they deserve just as much in return. This begins with not taking the decision to adopt lightly and being certain that welcoming a pet into your home is right for you and them.

Here are some things to consider before you adopt a pet:

  • Can you afford it? Along with an adoption fee, which can cost around $250 to $450, there are other expenses to consider. These include food, grooming and/or grooming supplies, and vet bills.
  • Type breed, and age of the pet. The type, breed, and age of a pet will dictate size, energy levels, and exercise needs. It’s important to consider the work involved with the animal before making your choice. The rescuer or a vet can recommend the best options based on your needs and preferences.
  • Your lifestyle. You may be home a lot now, but what about after the pandemic is over and things return to normal? Do you travel a lot? Are you involved in a lot of activities that may make it hard to give a pet the time and attention it needs?
  • Are pets allowed where you live? Many condos and buildings have restrictions when it comes to pets. Some restrict dogs over a certain size or weight, while others don’t allow pets at all. Check with your condo board or landlord before getting a pet.
  • Do you have allergies or an immune condition that could be exacerbated by a pet? Speak to your doctor before getting a pet if you have allergies, a compromised immune system, or any condition that might be negatively affected by a pet.

If you’re ready and able to commit to a pet, be sure to do your due diligence. Get as much information as you can about the organization or person you’re adopting from, as well as about the pet, including its medical history, temperament, and any special needs.

Owning a pet is a forever commitment, so the more prepared you are, the better for you and your future furry companion.

Keeping yourself safe throughout the adoption process

To stay safe from Covid-19, contact with the organization should be mainly conducted virtually; either by phone or internet. When the time comes to meet the pet in person (a MUST to make sure you’re a good fit for each other!), appropriate measures need to be taken so that you can continue to self-isolate.

Be sure to ask the volunteer or rescuer how this can be done. In order to continue your isolation, a family member who lives in your household or a professional in-home care provider can help so that you do not have to come into direct contact with anyone else.

Article sources

Healthy Pets, Healthy People. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html

Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCov outbreak

Children may respond to stress in different ways such as being more clingy, anxious, withdrawing, angry or agitated, bedwetting etc.

Respond to you child’s reactions in a supportive way, listen to their concerns and give them extra love and attention.

Children need adults’ love and attention during difficult times. Give them extra time and attention.

Remember to listen to your children, speak kindly and reassure them.

If possible, make opportunities for the child to play and relax.

Try and keep children close to their parents and family and avoid separating children and their caregivers to the extent possible. If separation occurs (e.g. hospitalization) ensure regular contact (e.g. via phone) and re-assurance.

Keep to regular routines and schedules as much as possible, or help create new ones in a new environment, including school/learning as well as time for safely playing and relaxing.

Provide facts about what has happened, explain what is going on now and give them clear information about how to reduce their risk of being infected by the disease in words that they can understand depending on their age.

This also includes providing information about what could happen in a re-assuring way (e.g. a family member and/or the child may start not feeling well and may have to go to the hospital for sometime so doctors can help them feel better).

STOP, Drop and Leave – A New Service to Help Our Clients

The Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health is urging older adults and those with underlying medical conditions and compromised immune systems to stay home.

To help make it easier for seniors to practice physical distancing and to self-isolate, we are offering a new shopping service. This service allows our clients to get the groceries and other items they need, without having to leave their home or make contact with others, minimizing their risk of exposure to Covid-19.

How it works

Our caregivers will pick up groceries, medications and other supplies, and even dry cleaning so that our clients can stay safe and healthy.

Lists of items for pick-up can be sent to us via email and we will pick up and deliver them to the front door without face-to-face contact.

Our contactless delivery will be carried out by a caregiver who has been trained in proper sanitizing practices.

The caregiver will sanitize their hands before shopping and don gloves and a mask when moving the items from the car to the front door.

There is no need to open the door for the caregiver or to have any contact with them. The client can wait to retrieve the items once the caregiver has stepped away.

We’re here for you

Our priority has always been to provide the best in-home care to enable seniors can live safely in the comfort of their own homes. This has never been more important than it is right now.

This new service is just one more way that we can help keep our clients safe.

If you’d like to learn more about this or our other home care services, give us a call or send us an email.

We’re here for you.

Tel: 1.855.483.CARE (2273)

Email: info@LAServices.ca

How to Talk To Your Aging Parent about Incontinence

Incontinence is one of the topics that adult children find the most difficult to talk with their aging parents about. It’s not surprising, though, when you consider the difficult transition our elderly parents are in. Once the authority figures who took care of us, they are becoming the ones who need care.

To make the situation even more difficult is the embarrassment around incontinence – even though it’s common and affects more than 1 in 5 Canadian seniors.

If you’ve noticed that your parent is struggling with incontinence, you owe it to them to have an honest talk about it and work with them to find a solution. We realize that this is easier said than done, especially if your parent is a proud and private person, so we’ve compiled some tips that may help.

Tips to help you talk to your parent about incontinence

Upholding your parent’s dignity with understanding, patience, and respect is crucial when talking with them about a topic as sensitive as incontinence. Your help may not be well received at first and could be met with emotions ranging from embarrassment to anger, and even sadness.

The following may help make the conversation and easier one for you both:

Refrain from using the word “diaper”

While they are often referred to as “adult diapers”, the word “diaper” is associated with babies who are unable to care for themselves. A parent grappling with a loss of independence is likely to rebel against your treating them like a baby – even if that’s not at all what you’re doing.

Family caregivers and professional in-home caregivers should be urged to refer to these products by other names. Some examples are “disposable underwear” or “adult briefs”.

Tactfully explain that you’ve noticed

Decreased senses of smell and sight are a natural part of aging. As such, some seniors don’t even realize just how noticeable their incontinence is to others.

Many seniors will do their best to manage incontinence on their own and others may simply be in denial and opt to ignore the issue entirely. Letting them know that you’ve noticed an odor or stains may help them realize that it’s time to find a solution.

Be gentle and tactful, and be careful not to use words or a tone that could be perceived as shaming.

Be ready to provide samples

Having samples of incontinence products on hand is a good idea, but gauge their reaction to the situation before you pull them out.

If your parent seems open to your help, then by all means show them samples of some of the different products available so that they can make their own choice.

If, on the other hand, your parent is having a hard time accepting the situation and your help, offer to take them to the store so they can see the options themselves.

Learn why incontinence happens

Do your homework and learn about incontinence before bringing it up to your parent. Rather than implying that it’s just something that happens to “old people”, help them understand that there’s more to it than just getting old and losing control.

Incontinence is not a condition, but a symptom. Perhaps it’s a symptom related to an existing condition, such as diabetes or a neurologic disorder. Often, incontinence in older adults is simply the result of muscles that stretch and weaken over the years, affecting the bladder’s ability to store urine.

An explanation as to why it can happen can help take a lot of the shame and embarrassment out of it.

Enlist outside help

Accepting help or advice from your child isn’t easy, especially for a parent already struggling with the fear of losing their independence. Your parent may be less likely to discredit advice given by a professional, such as their doctor or a home health care provider.

A professional can explain the potential health issues that can arise from poor hygiene, such as the risk of skin and urinary tract infections. Sure, you can explain it, too, but sometimes hearing it from a professional can make all the difference.

Speaking of professionals…

While incontinence is common in older adults, it’s important that your parent see a doctor about any new or worsening trouble holding their urine. A doctor can rule out a serious underlying medical condition and may be able to spot lifestyle habits that may be contributing to urinary incontinence.

Things like drinking too much at once, certain types of beverages, or not getting enough fiber and ending up constipated can make it hard to hold your bladder.

A professional caregiver can often spot these things, as well. In-home senior care can also assist with personal hygiene and bathing, dressing, and more.

Heather Goba, RN, BScN
Director of Care

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

 

Article Resources
Seniors and Aging – Bladder Control Problems (Incontinence). Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/medical-information/seniors-aging-bladder-control-problems-incontinence.html

Top 10 Ailments to qualify for a disability Tax Credit

The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit meant to help people with disabilities or their caregivers.

If you qualify, you can receive up to $8,416 per year (2019 amount), but according to many, figuring out whether or not you’re eligible isn’t that easy. Only roughly 40 percent of Canadians who qualify receive it.

The eligibility criteria can be a bit confusing for people applying, as well as the medical practitioners who have to certify that a person may be eligible. In fact, this has been the topic of many news stories in the past few years.

To help make things a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of 10 conditions that qualify for the DTC.

First, the DTC eligibility requirements

To be eligible, the person must meet one of the following criteria:

  • be blind
  • be markedly restricted in at least one of the basic activities of daily living, such as hearing, feeding, speaking, or dressing
  • be significantly restricted in two or more or the basic activities of daily living (can include a vision impairment)
  • need life-sustaining therapy

The person’s impairment must also meet all of the following criteria:

  • be prolonged, which means the impairment has lasted, or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months
  • be present all or substantially all the time (at least 90 percent of the time)

10 Conditions that likely qualify

Every person’s situation is unique and no two people have the exact same experience, even if they have the same condition or injury.

So while this isn’t a guaranteed or even a complete list by any means, these are among the most commonly approved ailments:

  1. Blindness
  2. Severe hearing impairment
  3. Stroke
  4. Alzheimer’s disease
  5. Parkinson’s disease
  6. Kidney failure
  7. Diabetes
  8. Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  9. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  10. Arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, etc.)

More information on the DTC and eligibility requirements is available on the Government of Canada website.

If you qualify

The DTC can help fund the costs associated with a disability, such as home improvements to accommodate mobility issues. It can also offset the cost of in-home care services to assist with tasks such as bathing, dressing, cooking, and escorting to medical appointments – just to name a few.

If you have an ailment that affects your ability to function, it’s worth applying for the DTC.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources
Disability Tax Credit (DTC). Government of Canada. (2020). https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/segments/tax-credits-deductions-persons-disabilities/disability-tax-credit.html
The CRA makes it so hard to get the disability tax credit, many don’t even try. E Alini – Global News. (2018). https://globalnews.ca/news/3956042/cra-disability-tax-credit-canada/

Study Shows Seniors Are Happier With Their Lives than Young People

Have you heard the old line about youth being wasted on the young? According to the most recent life satisfaction study, there’s more truth to that line than you’d expect.

Looks like in this day and age, Canadian seniors are happier than their younger counterparts.

What the study says

Based on the study released by the Statistics Canada in 2018, people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s had higher life satisfaction scores than people aged 20 to 59. Even better is that among seniors, life satisfaction increases with age!

The study examined nine different areas of life. Seniors were most satisfied with:

  • their personal relationships
  • their safety
  • the quality of their local environment

The study also found that – contrary to popular belief – income was not really associated with life satisfaction. And, 8 out of 10 seniors said that they usually had someone they could depend on for help when they really needed it.

Of all the domains examined, the one that seniors were least satisfied with was their own health. While Canadian seniors are healthier and more active than ever before, the risk of chronic illness and injuries does increase as we get older.

How caregivers can help seniors maintain and improve life satisfaction

Most of the study is good news for seniors and their loved ones. To keep this momentum going and enjoy the best quality of life possible for as long as possible, a safe and comfortable environment, a strong social network, and staying on top of health are key.

In-home care services can help with all of these things and more.

A caregiver provides a senior with someone they can depend on when family and friends live far away or are unable to help due to other commitments. Companionship can help combat senior loneliness and isolation through regular visits or outings. If mobility issues make it difficult for you or your loved one to get out, a caregiver can help with transportation to social functions, church, or appointments.

Home care services can also include home health care that ranges from basic needs to more advanced RN-supervised home care medical services.

Some of these include:

  • healthy meals
  • medication reminders
  • regular exercise
  • wound care
  • pain management
  • chronic disease care for cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other conditions

Some other tips for staying healthy and happy

Here are a few other things that seniors can do to stay healthy and happy, longer:

  • Talk to others – never underestimate the power of a friendly chat!
  • Stay active, even if it’s just taking a short walk or doing some chair exercises.
  • Eat healthy to keep your immune system strong – not to mention your bowels regular!
  • Find a hobby that brings you joy and don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Get a good night’s sleep to maintain good mental and physical health.
  • Try to get outside every day.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

 

 

Article Resources
Life satisfaction among Canadian seniors. (2018). Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2018001/article/54977-eng.htm

Here’s why having a spouse is good for your health

It may take everything in you to keep from putting a pillow over his head to stop his snoring and her nagging may drive you batty, but there’s still no one else you’d rather be with. So, in honour of National Spouses Day, January 26th, let’s celebrate your union and all the wonderfulness that comes with being married.

Being married is good for the heart

We’re not just talking about the warm fuzzies you get from being with the one you love, but actual cardiovascular benefits!

Studies have shown that married people have fewer heart attacks and strokes compared with those who are single.

In 2016, a large-scale study found that married people more 14 percent more likely to survive a heart attack and get out of the hospital a couple days sooner than single people having a heart attack.

Other health benefits of having a spouse

The health perks of marriage don’t just stop at your heart. People who are married are less likely to develop mental health issues, including depression. Married seniors are also less likely to suffer loneliness and isolation, which has become an epidemic among the older population.

Research shows that married people also:

  • enjoy better sleep
  • have lower stress levels
  • are physically fitter over the age of 60
  • survive major surgery more often
  • are less likely to engage in risky behavior, such as substance abuse or drunk driving
  • live longer

Staying healthy and happy, longer

Together is definitely better, especially in our later years. In-home care is one way to help ensure that you can stay together and enjoy the perks of marriage, longer.

Senior couples are among the best candidates for in-home care because it allows you to continue to live together, even if mobility issues and chronic illness arise.

A caregiver can take on some of the pressures of caregiving so that you and your spouse can age in the comfort and privacy of home. While we’re on the subject of privacy, it’s a lot easier – not to mention more enjoyable – to enjoy your private time together at home than when one or both of you is in a retirement facility.

A caregiver can help with tasks like shopping and errands, light housekeeping, and meal preparation freeing up more time for you to enjoy together.

If you’re struggling to care for each other due to illness or simply the natural changes that occur with aging, our caregivers can assist with more advanced home health care needs, too.

Oh! And another perk of having a spouse: home care is also more affordable when you’re sharing!

Happy Spouses Day!

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources
The health advantages of marriage. (2016). Robert H. Shmerling, MD. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-health-advantages-of-marriage-2016113010667
Natasha Wood, Anne McMunn, Elizabeth Webb, Mai Stafford. (2019). Marriage and physical capability at mid to later life in England and the USA. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0209388
Wiley/Science Daily. (2016). Being married may help prolong survival in cancer patients: Varying effects by race and place of birth. sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160411101111.htm

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
Director

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