Choosing the Right Home Care Provider

Home health care agencies are a dime a dozen. A quick search online will give you hundreds of options to choose from. But how do you know which home care agencies or independent home care aides are right for you and your family?

When choosing a home care provider, there are some key things to look for. You’re letting a stranger into your home or the home of an aging loved one, after all. Here’s a list of tips to help you choose the right home care provider for your needs.

What to look for in a home care agency

A fancy website can make any home care agency look impressive and professional online, but an attractive website doesn’t mean professional and reliable service! Look for the following things when choosing your home care provider.

Transparency

The address, local phone number, and the owner’s details should be readily available. Many home care agencies provide only an “800” number with no local contact details to be found. You should be able to call or find the home care agency closest to you without any trouble or confusion.

Long-term employees

If a home care agency has a high turnover when it comes to their staff, then chances are their employees are not happy. The last thing you want is a caregiver who is unhappy in their role. An agency that values their employees and rewards them for great service will have long-term employees. This is important when building a rapport and bonding with your caregiver. Familiarity can make all the difference when the time comes to accept at home care.

Thorough hiring process

Hiring a PSW should entail more than a quick look at a certificate. A reputable home care agency should have an intense screening process that looks at a potential employee’s background, credentials, and personality. Some home care agencies rely on their own training programs rather than hiring qualified caregivers who possess a community college Personal Support Worker certificate or equivalent. An extensive screening process is a must, because anything less could be putting you or your loved one at risk.

Caregivers with at least 2 years’ experience

Along with proper training in the field, you should ensure that a home care agency’s caregivers have at least 2 years of professional experience. A qualified and experienced caregiver has a better understanding of a recipient’s needs and how to best provide it.

A registered nurse on staff

Even if your or your loved ones home care needs are more about help with daily chores rather than medical needs, the home care agency you choose should have a registered nurse on staff. A registered nurse should be available to assess health and caregiving needs so that you get the best possible care.

Flexibility

We never know what tomorrow will bring, but whether it’s an illness or surgery, changes in mobility, or just a change in scheduled appointments or commitments; your home care provider should be flexible enough to accommodate those changes. They should offer a wide range of home care services and offer the flexibility to change your services as needed. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all service when it comes to senior care. Your home care agency should be able to cater your care to your individual needs.

If you have any questions about how to choose the right home care provider or would like to know more about our varied home care services and qualified and personable caregivers, give us a call. We’re here to help.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

My Dad Does Not Want to Give Up His Independence

After a lifetime spent being the “man of the house” and looking after himself and others, it’s not surprising that your father may be struggling with giving up his independence and accepting help. Chances are that he’s got the same misgivings about senior care that many have and is envisioning a complete loss of freedom and having no say in what he does and how he does it. So what’s a son or daughter to do when dad is in need of home care but just isn’t having it?

Here are some ideas.

Ease him into it

You can start off slow  by having a caregiver show up for short periods to help with odd jobs—preferably the jobs that your dad would be happy to pass off! Our caregivers are able to do odd jobs, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, or driving. We offer the flexibility to enlist as little or as much home care as you need to help your father ease into receiving senior care. You can gradually increase the hours of caregiving he receives to suit his comfort level.

Give him options

If your father fears giving up his independence, the last thing you should do is confirm his fears and misconceptions of what elderly care means by not giving him a choice. Rather than telling him how things are going to be, give him some options to choose from. For example, let him know what types of tasks a senior care professional can take on with and let him choose those he wouldn’t mind help with. We also allow our clients to choose their caregiver, so be sure he knows that he gets a say in who will be in his home and providing home care services. This shows your dad that his opinions still matter and that he has the freedom to make choices.

Let him know he can continue to do things he loves

Even if his age or health has limited his mobility or ability to do certain things on his own, it doesn’t necessarily mean that his days of doing what he enjoys are over. Our caregivers can provide joyful companionship. This means that they can be there as companions, not as wardens restricting what he does and where he goes. Whether it’s getting across town for dinner with friends, a walk in the park, or catching the latest action movie; our senior care providers can be there to do the things that he enjoys.

Listen to his concerns

Ask your father what things about receiving home care concern him. Let him know that you’re listening and taking his feelings into account. Understanding what it is that he’s most upset about can help you decide how to best proceed when arranging home care services. Common concerns that many seniors have about elderly care include:

  • lack of privacy
  • cost
  • having a stranger in the house
  • losing their freedom

Listen to him, be empathetic, and offer solutions and reassurance.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us with any questions and concerns. Sometimes, hearing it from a professional can make all the difference. We’re happy to help!

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

An Inactive Lifestyle Takes 8 Years off Your Lifespan

While slowing down a little is a natural part of aging, it’s no excuse for being inactive. As a matter of fact, researchers continue to find evidence that an inactive lifestyle will actually make you age faster. A study published just last year that focused on elderly women found that those with a sedentary lifestyle had cells that were biologically older than their actual age—8 years older.

Why Even a Little Exercise is Important for Senior Care

Physical activity is important at every age and becomes even more important as you get older. The benefits of exercise for your health and quality of life, especially in old age are innumerable. Here are just a few of the benefits that make physical activity such an important part of senior care:

  • It helps you stay independent longer
  • It improves your balance
  • It reduces your risk of falls and injuries
  • It helps prevent disease, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes
  • It lowers your risk of premature death

Getting out and enjoying activities has also been shown to improve mood and lower the risk of depression—something many seniors are at risk of.

Getting Active as You Age

Aches and pains, chronic illness, and other realities of aging can zap anyone’s motivation to get out and move, but this doesn’t make it any less important. You don’t need to get an expensive gym membership or participate in intense exercise to reap all the health benefits. Just getting out for a walk every day, attending a soft aerobics class, or even participating in seated exercises for 30 minutes each day can make all the difference.

If you or your aging parent isn’t getting enough exercise because of physical challenges or difficulty getting out and about, a professional senior care provider can help in a few ways. A senior caregiver can accompany you on walks or to and from exercise classes and other activities. The time you spend being active either in a group environment, such as classes at a senior’s community center, or just out for a walk with your senior care provider, is also time that you’re being social. It’s a win-win for your body and mind!

Some ideas to get you moving:

  • Take a walk
  • Join a mall walking program
  • Take a dance class
  • Take a senior’s fitness class at a community center
  • Participate in a seated exercise/chair exercise class if you have mobility issues
  • Do a workout video at home using a DVD or computer

Every step counts. Even if you’re not active now, adding just a few minutes of physical activity to your day is a step in the right direction. Give us a call to learn more about how one of our qualified senior care specialists can help ensure that you get out and get active for better health.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article sources:
Associations of Accelerometer-Measured and Self-Reported Sedentary Time With Leukocyte Telomere Length in Older Women. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/185/3/172/2915786
Physical activity tips for older adults (65 years and older). https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/healthy-living/physical-activity/physical-activity-tips-older-adults-65-years-older.html

Sundowning – How to Reduce Late-Day Confusion

If a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you may have noticed that their agitation and disorientation seems to worsen as the day goes on. This late-day confusion is referred to as sundowning and is more common in mid-stage or advanced dementia.

The symptoms of sundowning can be managed with a few steps. Here are some things that you can do:

    • Create and stick to a schedule. Stress, anger, and confusion are common reactions to unfamiliar places and activities. They are also reactions that play a role in sundowning. Avoid altering routines and try to adhere to the same schedule every day. If changes need to be made, make them gradually. If you’re considering senior care, having the same caregiver provide their care each day is important in maintaining consistency.
    • Keep them active. Staying active throughout the day can help your loved one avoid daytime dozing. Inactivity and dozing on and off during the day can make it hard to sleep at night. Go for a walk together or hire a professional senior care provider to accompany your loved one on walks or other daily outings if your schedule doesn’t allow you to do it. Not only does staying active improve sleep and help with downing—it’s great for their health all around. Exercise is also a proven way to lower stress and anxiety.
    • Adjust the lighting at home. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends turning up the lights and brightening the room when a person with dementia is agitated or confused. Placing a full-spectrum fluorescent light one meter or so away from your loved one for a couple of hours each morning may also help, based on research on light therapy.
    • Minimize stress. Reducing stress late in the day and in the evening can help with the symptoms of sundowning. Encourage simple activities that are less likely to cause frustration, such as listening to soft music or spending time cuddling a pet.
    • Create comfortable and familiar surroundings. For a loved one with dementia, creating a familiar and comforting environment is important. Fill their space with cherished belongings from their past, especially if they’re in a hospital or assisted living facility. Enlisting in-home care services can allow your loved one to remain in the comfort and familiar surroundings of home while getting the care they need. Familiarity and comfort can help reduce sundowning symptoms.
    • Track your loved one’s behaviour. Tracking your loved one’s triggers can help you better manage sundowning. Use a journal or smartphone app to track his or her daily activities, environments, and behaviours to help identify and avoid triggers.

Along with these tips, ensuring that your loved one eats well and gets a good night’s sleep is important. And don’t forget about yourself! Caring for a loved one and dealing with the symptoms of sundowning can take a toll on you, too. Take care of yourself and ask for help, either from family and friends, or by hiring professional home health care services to provide respite care so that you can get a break.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Senior Intimacy – Why You Need to Talk to Your Parents about Sex

Still cringe at the thought of your parents being intimate even though you’re well into adulthood? You’re not alone. Seeing our parents as virile beings can make even the most open-minded adult go “ick”, but getting over the ick factor is important when it comes time to consider senior care and the best options for your parents.

Stats Show That Seniors Are Getting’ Busy More than Ever

Better health, a longer lifespan, and the invention of drugs like Viagra have all contributed to better sex lives for seniors. Data from the 2015 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), found that 31 percent of women and 54 percent of men over 70 were still sexually active and a third of them were having frequent sex. This is comparable to data from an earlier study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This focus on sex in the older population has also brought to light issues faced by seniors when it comes to sexual health, including a lack of conversations about sex and also the impact of the lack of privacy faced by those in assisted living facilities.

Let’s Talk About Sex

As uncomfortable as it may feel to talk to your parents about sex; an active sex life has many benefits on a person’s physical and emotional well-being and is something that needs to be considered when planning care for the elderly.

The American study I mentioned covered the negative impact that living in assisted living facilities has on the sex lives of residents because of practices such as bedroom checks, reporting resident’s sex lives to their relatives, and unlocking doors without permission. This stresses the need for open conversation about intimacy with your aging parents because it is an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of elderly care.

In-Home Care Is the Better Choice for Sexually Active Seniors

While some seniors may have medical issues that require the care offered by assisted living facilities, most are able to get the care they need, including advanced home care / medical home care, so that they can continue living in the comfort of home.

Home care providers offer the discretion that is lacking in many assisted living facilities. Staying in your own home and enjoying the privacy you always have promotes intimacy. Seniors can get the care that they need without sacrificing their privacy and the ability to be intimate when the mood strikes.

Some Health Benefits of Sex

Still feeling weird about talking to your parents about sex? Perhaps some insight into how sex can keep your parents happy and healthy will be the incentive you need to get over your embarrassment and have “the talk” with your aging parents.

The following are just some of the proven health benefits of sex:

  • better heart health
  • lower blood pressure
  • a stronger immune system
  • better sleep
  • improved mood and emotional health
  • more energy
  • improved bladder control in women
  • better memory
  • lower risk of depression and loneliness
  • longer lifespan

One uncomfortable conversation could help ensure that the best possible choice is made for your parent’s when it comes to elderly care, so go ahead and have the talk. You’ll all be glad you did.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources:
Sexuality and Intimacy in Assisted Living: Residents’ Perspectives and Experiences. (2015). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4283937/
A Study of Sexuality and Health among Older Adults in the United States. (2008). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2426743/
Sexual health and wellbeing among older men and women in England. (2015). https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/30110830/POST-PEER-REVIEW-NON-PUBLISHERS.PDF

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