Back Pain – Causes, Limitations, and More

According to Statistics Canada, back problems are one of the most common chronic conditions in Canada—low back pain especially.

Back pain can range in severity from mild to severe and can be a dull ache or a shooting or stabbing pain. When bad enough, it can impact your ability to perform even simple daily tasks.

It’s often accompanied by other symptoms, which can include:

  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Numbness in tingling in a leg or foot
  • Pain that worsens when you bend, walk, or lift
  • Depression when back pain is chronic or limits mobility

Causes of Back Pain

Aging is one of the most common causes of back pain. Over time, everyday wear and tear causes the discs between your vertebrae to become thinner and more brittle. This leads to common back conditions, including:

  • Osteoarthritis, which results from the breakdown of the disc and cartridge in the joints
  • Spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal cord
  • Spondylolisthesis, in which one vertebra slips forward onto another
  • Bulging or ruptured disks

Physical inactivity and osteoporosis are also common causes of back pain in seniors.

Activities to Avoid That a Caregiver Can Help With

Acute back pain can last from days to weeks and can sometimes become chronic, lasting months or even years. Depending on your age and overall health, you may be required to avoid certain activities for some time while your back heals.

Depending on how severe your pain, you may need to avoid activities such as:

  • Lifting
  • Sitting for long periods
  • Raising your arms or reaching
  • Bending over
  • Walking
  • Driving

As you can see, back pain and recovery can be quite limiting and make it difficult—if not impossible—to perform a number of daily tasks. This can make life challenging for you and your loved ones.

Our in-home caregivers are able to help with these tasks and do the things you’re not able to while you’re recovering from back pain. They can be there to help day or night, and offer live-in or live-out home health care services, depending on your needs.

Some of the things they can help you with include:

  • Personal care, such as dressing and bathing
  • Grocery shopping and errands
  • Transportation to and from medical appointments
  • Medication administration
  • Meal preparation
  • Housekeeping

If your doctor has recommended walking to help loosen stiff muscles and joints, our caregivers can also provide companionship and accompany you on walks and outings so that you can remain mobile.

If back pain is interfering with your ability to carry out certain activities and you’d like to know more about our in-home care services, give us a call.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources
Back Pain.
Degenerative Back Conditions.

Social workers and their role in senior care in Ontario

Those of us lucky enough to live in Ontario have access to amazing social workers and other support personnel to help when crisis strikes. Whether for a broken hip or a serious medical condition, all of the professionals working within the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) work together to help seniors return home after a hospital stay.

Their philosophy focuses on keeping seniors safe in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible with community supports. At Living Assistance Services, we share the same philosophy and understand the importance of being home for recovery.

The Discharge Process

Seniors who live alone or have a limited support network and require extra help after a hospital stay are kept in hospital until LHIN staff is able to arrange the support services needed. This is no small task, when you consider the increasing aging population. They help more than 637,000 people each year and this number is expected to continue to rise.

Unfortunately, an overburdened network means that many seniors are forced to remain in hospitals even after it’s no longer a medical necessity. For the patient, this results in an increased risk of hospital-associated complications, ranging from a decline in physical functioning to infections. It also means tying up acute care beds, which remain in short supply.

Hospital social workers and LHIN staff do what they can to support patients to return home. A big part of this is providing the patient and family—if any—with advice and information on how to help the patient manage at home. Much of this relies on family members being able to help and take on as much of the caregiving as possible, with some outside support. Finding sufficient care at home for seniors who don’t have family, whose family live far away, or are busy with their own lives is especially difficult. This often results in a longer hospital stay while other home care services are arranged.

Private Home Care Agencies Offer an Alternative to Get Seniors Home Sooner

LHINs have their hands full when it comes to the number of seniors in hospitals requiring home care before their discharge. This can be just as frustrating for them as it is for patients. Private home care agencies like ours provide an alternative for seniors who require extra home health care services so they can return home after a hospital stay.

Our highly experienced caregivers can be there from discharge through recovery.

Our registered nurse reviews and assesses caregiving needs free of charge. Our caregivers don’t just provide home health care services, but are also available to provide supplementary care in the hospital, if needed.

We offer RN-supervised support, such as administering medication and injections, wound care, pain management, and much more. Our caregivers can also help with all aspects of personal care, housekeeping and meal preparation, and even errands. Chronic disease and palliative care are also available.

Our wide range of home care services are catered to the senior’s specific needs so they get as much or as little care as needed while they make the transition from hospital back to home for recovery. And because we’re able to arrange home care quickly— with as little as 24 to 48 hours notice in some cases—patients can return to the comfort of home much sooner.

If you or an aging loved one is in need of support once you leave the hospital, give us a call to learn more about how we can help you during your recovery.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources
Facts about Local Health Integration Network Home and Community Care Services.
Supporting Seniors Return Home from Hospital.

Safety For Seniors at Home – Making Your Loved One’s Home Safe

What may not constitute an obstacle to you may be to your elder loved one. There are actually areas of the home that should be addressed to better suit the mobility and agility limitations we can all expect to experience as we age.

Take a Walk Through The House

  • Keep all areas of the home, including hallways and stairs, well-lit but free from glare.
  • Remove scatter rugs or attach a nonskid backing to them.
  • Reduce the risk of falling on uncarpeted floors by ensuring they are not slippery. Do not use any gloss polish.
  • Use night lights in the bedroom, hallways, kitchen and the bathroom.
  • Remove all newspapers and magazines from the kitchen counter areas.
  • Inspect electrical cords for fraying or cracking; be sure they are placed away from walking paths, but not under a carpet or furniture, where they could present a fire hazard.
  • Set the hot water heater/tank temperature to 115 degrees (Fahrenheit) or 46 degrees (Celsius) – or less.
  • Use slop-resistant decals or non-skid mats in the tub or shower.
  • Install grab bars in the bathtub and near the toilet; be sure the screws go directly into the wall studs, so that they remain securely in place.
  • Check to be sure that extension cords are not overloaded and are clear of walkways.
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of the house and test them monthly.
  • Destroy out-of-date medications and those which are no longer being used.
  • Place a telephone in the bedroom. Post emergency numbers by all telephones.
  • Keep space heaters away from flammable materials and be sure the room is well ventilated.
  • A three-pronged plug should be used in a three hole outlet or an adapter should be used.
  • Always turn off heating pads before an older person goes to sleep.

Have a Plan

Have an emergency exit plan and an alternative plan in case of fire. If the older person has a disability, call the local fire department and have them give you some stickers for the windows.

You may want to review some of these issues with your loved one and call Living Assistance Services to assist you in making your loved one’s home safer and happier.

Making the home safer makes your life easier!

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Smart Technology for seniors – Can it replace the Human Touch?

With our senior population growing faster than ever, so are smart technologies geared at improving the lives of seniors. Smart technology—or gerantechnology—devices include things like telecare and telehealth, robotics, and various information and communication devices, from smartphones to health trackers. With all of these products available to do anything from control lighting and appliances with one swipe to sensors to track movements and remind you that it’s time to move or take a medication, the jury is still out on how many seniors will use these products.

Gerantechnology devices are available across the world and promise seniors healthier and more independent and active lives. While this appears to be the wave of the future for seniors, those who require extra help right now are less likely to use these devices and many prefer good old fashioned human care.

Number of Seniors Using Smart Technology in Canada

While the number of seniors using the internet has increased in recent years, this isn’t the case for smart phones or other connected devices. More than 76 percent of Canadians own a smartphone, according to Statistics Canada, but this number drops significantly in the senior population, primarily for those over 75. Only 18 percent of Canadians over 75 own a connected device.

The trend continues when it comes to those who believe that smart technology has or can improve their lives. Only 38 percent of Canadians over 75 believe their lives are better or report improvement because of smart technology.

Smart Technologies vs In-Home Care

There’s no doubt that some smart technology can help make life easier for seniors, especially those who live alone. Technology that monitors the comfort, safety, and security of home or wearables that can alert emergency services to a fall or medical emergency can provide peace of mind not only for the elderly, but also their loved ones.

Many of the other smart technology devices available are likely to be a hard sell for seniors who are not tech-savvy or are living on a limited income. Trusting a device to take the place of human care is also something that many seniors are not comfortable with.

The cost of some of these devices and the monitoring to use them can be expensive. And even with online tutorials and detailed manuals, there’s always the worry that the user will have difficulty using the features properly or to their full potential. This is especially the case for those cognitive issues that accompany aging and illness.

In-home care services can help seniors age with dignity and independence in the comfort of home. Medication reminders, regular visits, errands, and transportation are just some of the in-home care services we offer.

This isn’t to say that some of the available technology isn’t worth considering, of course. Smart phones or tablets that allow seniors to stay connected with friends and loved ones who live far away or when mobility is an issue are wonderful. Fitness trackers that remind you to get up and move around are great for those who are able to do so safely on their own.

As amazing as these technologies are, it’s comforting to know that the human connection is still available for seniors who need or simply prefer assistance from a real, live human who has been trained to provide care and companionship.

Pauline Lyons, CPCA
Director of Community Relations

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

More Women Are Living Longer and Making It Work – You Can Too

You’ve likely noticed that when it comes to older people, more women seem to live alone than older men. The Canadian government has noticed this, too. According to Statistics Canada, women over 65 are almost twice more likely to live alone than senior men and this includes 31 percent of women over the age of 90.

It’s not surprising given that women have a longer life expectancy than men—explaining the two women for every man aged 85 and older reported by Statistics Canada in 2016! That ratio increases to five to one for centenarians!

The tendency to form partnerships/marry men who are slightly older also contributes to this. It’s also a known fact that older women aren’t as interested in finding a partner later in life and more prefer to go it alone than men, who are more likely to seek companionship regardless of age—often with a younger woman.

Help for Senior Women Living Alone

Regardless of how capable and independent a woman is, living alone as health and care needs change isn’t always easy. The size of our family and social networks decrease with age, especially for women living alone, many of whom report having fewer people they feel close to. As much as they may enjoy their independence, many women who alone report missing having people around and worry about the potential vulnerabilities they face as they age. Even those who enjoy financial stability and good health know that these circumstances can change quickly. Having a limited number of family and close friends means not having a potential caregiver to help when the need arises.

Finding Support

A lack of a support system to help with senior care needs isn’t the only issue for older women who find themselves without a social or family network. Loneliness is a real struggle that has mental and physical health implications and has been found to be a serious problem among seniors, especially those living alone.

Community is important and building connections and a support system is crucial, even if you’re enjoying single life as a senior. This can help combat loneliness and ensure that you have help when you need it.

Some ways to find support:

  • Meet and get to know your neighbours
  • Join social clubs
  • Attend events in your community
  • Stay in contact with any friends and family
  • Take an exercise class
  • Engage a companion or Personal Support Worker (PSW)

For those who are computer-savvy, the internet is a great place to find community groups and social clubs in your neighbourhood, including many geared at seniors. Senior centers also offer a variety of classes, workshops, and social events.

Enlisting professional home care services can also help for those who need assistance with things like household chores or getting to medical appointments. Home care agencies also have caregivers who can help with transportation to get you to and from social activities and community events, as well as joyful companionship if you spend a lot of time alone because of a limited social or family network.

Women are living longer and thriving well into their senior years. With a little extra support, you can continue to enjoy your independence and do the things you love, for longer and on your terms in a location where most seniors wish to be … at home.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources
Living arrangements of seniors.
Senior Women.

Senior Loneliness and Isolation – A Growing Health Crisis

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 1.4 elderly people in Canada report feeling lonely. Loneliness and isolation among Canadian seniors is growing and some are calling this a public health crisis.

Loneliness and isolation are caused by a number of factors. As we age, our social network gets smaller as friends and spouses die and adult children have their own lives to manage. It’s important to point out that for many people, this loneliness and isolation can often begin as early as in their 50s, especially in those who are widowed. And with each passing year, the number of risk factors associated with loneliness increases. Risk factors include:

  • Living alone
  • Being 80 or older
  • Having health issues
  • Having no children
  • Having little to no contact with family
  • Changing family structures, such as younger relatives moving away
  • Limited access to transportation
  • Low income

Loneliness Worse Than Obesity and Smoking, According to Reports

Feelings of loneliness are predictors of mortality. According to various reports, social isolation increases your risk of death by an astounding 30 to 60 percent.

Diseases that are worsened or even caused by chronic loneliness include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Obesity
  • Neurodegenerative disorders

In-Home Caregivers Can Help with Senior Isolation and Loneliness

Home care agencies that offer in-home health care services for seniors provide invaluable assistance to seniors at risk of or already dealing with isolation of feelings of loneliness.

Having limited mobility or limited access to transportation to get to and from social activities and medical appointments have been identified as contributors to isolation and declining health in seniors. Our willing and able caregivers are available to help with transportation to appointments, social outings, and more.

Poor medication adherence is another identified risk factor that increases with aging alone or with limited support. Our home health care services also include RN- supervised care, including medication management, pain management, wound care, and more.

Our caregivers are also available to provide companionship. We can schedule regular visits to assist with other in-home care services or companionship, which entail anything from someone to chat with over a cup of tea to playing cards, doing crafts, or going for a walk.

If you or an aging loved one would like to learn more about how our friendly caregivers can help combat loneliness, stay well, and enjoy life to the fullest, give us a call.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources
Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors.
The Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Seniors (SILAS) Project: Summary of Findings and Recommendations.

Ways to Finance Home Care

The cost of home care services varies based on the degree of assistance needed. Many people are under the impression that receiving professional care at home is too costly and rely on family caregivers instead. Often times, family caregivers and the recipient come to realize that providing senior care, even very basic care, requires a considerable amount of time and often, out of pocket expenses. Then there is also the income lost if time needs to be taken off of work.

There Are Ways to Offset the Costs of Home Care Services

If you are currently contemplating elderly care for yourself or a loved one or are planning ahead for the future, the following are services and investments that can help offset the cost of in home health care. Utilizing government pensions, tax credits, and other government-funded programs can help make in home senior care services more affordable. Investing in an insurance policy, such as long-term care insurance or critical illness insurance can also help you cover the costs of in home health care if the need arises.

The following are some of the options available to help you pay for home care services, be it basic senior care or companionship, to more advanced home care due to chronic illness or disability.

Tax Credits

Depending on your annual income, you may be eligible for tax credits related to medical expenses, including prescription drugs, assistive devices and medical equipment, and modifications to your home or vehicle. Tax relief on electricity, transportation, and property taxes are also available. Together these credits can go a long way in helping you pay for home care services.

Available tax credits through the Government of Ontario include:

  • Ontario Drug Benefit Program
  • Trillium Drug Program
  • Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)
  • Ontario Electricity Support Program
  • Home and Vehicle Modification Program
  • Provincial Land Tax Deferral Program for Low-Income Seniors and Low-Income Persons with Disabilities
  • Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant
  • Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit


Seniors living in Ontario can apply for pensions from the provincial and federal governments. It’s worth looking into the eligibility requirements for each as you may be eligible for more than you thought.

The different government pensions available include:

  • Canada Pension
  • Old Age Security pension
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement
  • Disability Pension

Veterans and their loved ones should also look into pensions and benefits for veterans available through:

  • Veteran Affairs Canada
  • Ontario’s Soldiers’ Aid Commission
  • War Veterans Allowance


If you’re planning ahead to your future, there are insurance policies, such as long-term care insurance and critical illness insurance that may help pay the costs of in home care services. Insurance can be expensive and premiums increase as you age. Speaking to a financial planner at your bank can be helpful in finding ways to afford paying your monthly premium if finances are tight.

Look into the different policies offered by different insurance providers, as they can vary greatly in cost and coverage.

Government-Funded Home Care and Community Services

Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) handle all government-funded services for people living at home. This was formerly handled by Community Care Access Centres (CCAC).  They can determine if you are eligible for home care services, such as personal care, homemaking, and other in home care, or family-managed home care, which provides you with direct funding to pay for home care services.

Contact your local LHIN for more information and eligibility.

Reverse mortgage

A reverse mortgage is a loan for senior homeowners that allows borrowers to access a portion of the equity in their home using the home as collateral.  In general, the mortgage does not have to be repaid until the borrower permanently moves out of the property or passes away.  This type of loan is a good source of revenue to assist with the cost of home care services.

How We Can Help

Living Assistance Services provides a broad range of in-home care services that can be adapted to give you or your loved one as much or as little assistance as needed on your schedule. Speak to us about our services and how they can be catered to suit your needs and budget.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


Article Resources:
Seniors: manage your finances.
Tax credits and benefits for people.
Veterans Affairs Canada: After an illness or injury.
Home and community care.

Home Care at the End of Life

It’s not easy watching a loved one reach the end of life, even if their life has been a long and happy one. The end of life can bring many changes for not just the person dying, but for the family, too. The goal of care changes from cure to comfort, decisions and arrangements need to be made, and with all of this, you also need to prepare for the changes your dying loved will experience as the end approaches. It’s a lot for even the strongest and most prepared person.

How Professional Home Care Providers Help the Dying and Their Loved Ones

Professional home care providers aren’t just there to help the elderly live in comfort and with dignity, but are also able to provide these things at the end of life as well.

An elderly care professional has been trained to observe changes in a person’s level of pain and emotional state, and spot signs of other types of distress. This enables the caregiver to assist with pain management and change the level or type of care so that the patient gets exactly what he or she needs.

Having a professional with experience in palliative and end of life care can be very comforting for the family as well as the person dying. They are able to provide information about the stages and process of dying, which can help you better prepare for what’s to come. This also helps alleviate some of the fear and anxiety that is common during this time. They understand that visiting with a dying loved one is emotionally challenging and are able to provide support as needed to the entire family.

A PSW can also assist with many of the practicalities of end of life which can allow the family members more quality time with their loved one. This includes everything from basic housekeeping meal prep for you and the patient, to helping you have conversations about death and dying—something many find extremely difficult. They are there to listen and answer questions while respecting your comfort level.

Providing At Home Care or Assistance in Hospital

Our caregivers are available to provide in home care services, as well as help in a hospital. Regardless of where the care services are being provided, you can rest assured that their goal is give your loved one the peace and unconditional regard they deserve, even providing companionship at the very end.

Many struggle with trying to manage the responsibilities of work and home when their parent or loved one is nearing the end of life. You want to be there around the clock and worry about your loved one being alone, but this isn’t always possible and can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Having a private home care professional assist with end of life care can be very comforting for the dying and their family. They are able to provide as much companionship as possible and eliminate the worry that the person will die alone.

Along with companionship, a PSW can also provide regular updates to the family and take over some of the care duties from hospital staff. This ensures that your loved one gets the personal care and attention that you want for them, right to the very end.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

The Dangers of Poor Medication Management by Seniors

Drug abuse and misuse in the elderly is a worsening problem in Canada and other parts of the world. A big part of the problem is the number of medications that many seniors take. According to the IIRP Study published in 2017, approximately 66 percent of seniors are taking anywhere from 5 to 10 prescription medications. Many seniors are also taking supplements and herbal remedies, which contrary to popular belief, can interact with drugs, resulting in serious effects.

A Serious Problem

Managing multiple medications and supplements isn’t easy at any age, but it becomes increasingly difficult—and more dangerous—as a person ages. This is partly because of cognitive changes that happen naturally over the years. Forgetting to take a dose and forgetting that a medication has already been taken, resulting in doubling up, is very common. Taking a medication at the wrong time or while also taking supplements and herbal remedies can also lead to problems, including overdose.

In-Home Senior Care and Medication Management

Seniors who live on their own or with a spouse have a higher risk of misusing medication. The role of managing medications often falls on the elderly spouse, which is also just as risky. Senior couples often forget doses and sometimes accidentally take the prescription belonging to the other person.

A benefit of having an in-home senior care provider come in to help with medication is having an extra set of eyes to notice things such as side effects from a new medication or supplement or adverse drug reactions. Medications not properly supervised can cause reactions such as:

  • Confusion
  • Unsteadiness
  • Delirium
  • Depression
  • Dependence

Adult children and spouses often believe that simply leaving instructions written down or using a dated pillbox is sufficient for keeping track of medication and doses, but the harsh reality is that many seniors don’t have the cognitive capacity to keep track of or retain the information they once did. According to the IIRP Study, seniors are 5 times more likely than younger Canadians to be hospitalized for adverse drug reactions. The number rises significantly when a senior gets into their eighties.

Our senior care staff includes professional caregivers, registered practical nurses (RPNs) to help with medication management. Our Director of Care, who is also a registered nurse (RN), oversees both our nurses and Personal Support Workers. Together, they help ensure that your elderly parents or loved ones are taking the right dose, at the right time.

Medication is tracked by our caregivers who keep a diary of the medication, dose, and times for you so that you can be sure your loved one is not at risk of complications, including overdose, caused by misuse.

Talk to us about our in-home care services and how we can help.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources:
IRPP Study – Improving Prescription Drug Safety for Canadian Seniors. (2017).
Common Herbal Dietary Supplement–Drug Interactions. (2017).

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 Personal Support Wokers (PSW’s) 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.


The address, local phone number, and the owner’s details should be readily available online and/or in their brochure. 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.


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

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care