The Future of Retirement in Canada

Retirement is evolving and how retirement in Canada looks has changed drastically in the past few years. This is mainly because people are living longer – a whopping 28 years past retirement for most.

Living longer and remaining active for longer than ever before also means people are living at home longer and well past retirement. That’s just fine with most Canadian seniors based on a number of surveys that found that the majority of Canadian seniors prefer to remain at home for as long as possible.

Aging in place isn’t just the preference, but also the answer given the changing needs of seniors and retirement plans that don’t afford most the ability to pay for quality long-term care facilities. And even those that can afford assisted living facilities don’t feel they can justify the cost of these facilities when they’re still reasonably active and don’t require ‘round-the-clock care.

To make this work, people are thinking outside the box and utilizing in-home care services and some other creative arrangements to make aging in the comfort of home possible.

Multigenerational Housing

Multigenerational housing isn’t a new idea. Adult children taking in and looking after their aging parents is fairly common and in some cultures it’s expected. What has changed is that it’s no longer just seniors who are unable to live on their own that move in with their children. Many active and independent retirees choose this alternative because it’s more affordable than a mortgage or rent, or the high cost of a retirement community. This frees up funds that can be used to supplement the cost of in-home care services to take some of the burden off of adult children who are also juggling work and kids.

Student renters from other parts of the country/overseas

Many seniors are renting rooms to students from out of town or even the country.  This mutually beneficial arrangement is appealing to students who are offered low rent in exchange for help with chores like minor home maintenance and repairs and taking out the garbage.

Not only can this provide extra income during retirement, it also makes in-home care services more affordable because chores can split between the student and a professional caregiver.

Young Professional Renters

Many young professionals find themselves having to move to a new city or town for jobs and unable to afford the high cost of rentals—if they can even find one. With so many empty nesters having empty rooms collecting dust, renting to a young professional offers mutual benefits. It provides the an affordable housing solution that helps a young person get on their feet while providing a senior with supplementary income that can contribute to in-home care services when the need arises.

Senior roommates

The Golden Girls were onto something! Taking in other seniors as roommates is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to retirement homes and helping seniors age more comfortably. Seniors who live together can share the cost of hiring a caregiver to assist with the tasks of daily living, basic housekeeping, and other in-home care services.

For those who want to age in place, these alternatives make retirement affordable so you can continue to live on your terms. These options are also wonderful ways to stave-off senior loneliness and remain social, which can help keep you healthier and happier, according to various studies.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Don’t Let Caring for an Aging Parent Destroy Your Family Relationships

When the time comes to make plans for the care of an aging parent, children focus on figuring out what the parent needs and how to help them, but few think about how important the care plan will be for family relationships.

Looking after an aging parent puts a lot of strain on family relationships, especially sibling relationships. And yes, it even happens to close-knit families that have always gotten along.

It sounds easy enough to divide up the responsibilities associated with elderly care amongst family members, but the reality is that even if all the siblings want to be involved, it may not be possible. Work, distance, and their own children to look after can make it harder for one sibling than another. What often ends up happening is that the sibling who lives closer or is seemingly less busy is often expected to shoulder more of the responsibility. As practical a solution as this may seem, it’s not necessarily fair and will ultimately cause resentment.

How to Avoid Straining Family Relationships When it comes to Elderly Care

It’s a proven fact that one family member often ends up taking on most of a parent’s elderly care responsibilities. Most often this falls on the daughter, whether she has chosen to take on the primary caregiver role or not. Caregiver burden has been linked to burnout, which has a very serious impact on the caregiver’s mental and physical health.

When it comes time to plan for senior home care for an elderly parent, keep the following in mind to help avoid resentment and sibling rivalry:

  • Having a flexible job or childcare commitments doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is able to take on more of the elderly care duties.
  • Living closer may make it easier for one sibling to take on more of the care, but that isn’t necessarily fair and shouldn’t just be assumed or expected.
  • Caring for an aging loved one can take a toll and that toll worsens as the parent’s health declines. Be there for each other as much as possible and especially for the sibling who is shouldering most of the burden.
  • Communication is everything. Talk openly and honestly with each other about what elderly care responsibilities are needed and how the needs will be met.
  • Professional home care assistance can help take some of the burden off of siblings and make it easier to divide the responsibilities in a way that is fair and realistic. A professional senior care provider can take on duties that children are often not comfortable with, such as personal hygiene, or home care medical duties, such as administering medications and injections.

It won’t always be easy or even peaceful, but elderly care for your parent doesn’t need to cause strain if you work together with your siblings. The goal is to do your best to ensure your parents get the care they deserve and need.

Be respectful of your parent’s wishes and each other, and be realistic about what elderly care entails. Take on what you can and consider professional senior home care services from an agency like Living Assistance Services, to help balance the responsibilities. Avoiding having one sibling take on the majority of the burden can make all the difference and help you avoid damaging your family relationships.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

It Takes A Village: A look at the types of caregivers, their qualifications, and how they help you

Senior care involves the skills of different types of caregivers. Many people don’t know the different qualifications of the various types of caregivers and what they offer.

The following is an overview of each type of caregiver employed by Living Assistance Services and what they do for our clients.

Caregiver

Our caregivers have at least two years of Canadian experience working in home care or with the elderly population. They provide a number of home care services related to day-to-day living, including:

  • Personal care, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Light housekeeping, such as washing dishes, changing bedding, vacuuming, etc.
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Shopping and errands, such as medical appointments, dining out, and church
  • Convalescence and respite care, providing visits as needed to give family members a break from caregiving
  • Companionship, which includes assisting with day-to-day activities, crafts, reading, playing cards, and other activities to help combat senior loneliness

Personal Support Worker (PSW)

Our personal support workers have successfully completed the Ontario PSW Training Program through an accredited college or not-for-profit organization.

Our PSWs, who must have a minimum of two years of work experience, have the training and experience to take on a number of home healthcare responsibilities. In addition to the services provided by caregivers, PSWs also:

  • Check and record vitals, including blood pressure, temperature, and pulse
  • Assists other members of the healthcare team if the client is hospitalized, such as mobilization and physical lifts
  • Collects urine, stool, and sputum samples
  • Assists the care recipient with monitoring blood glucose levels
  • Assists with range of motion exercises and other duties related to rehabilitation
  • Observes and reports behavioral changes, medication side effects, changes in existing conditions
  • Provides the care recipient and their family with emotional and social support services
  • Provides supportive care at end of life

Registered Practical Nurse (RPN)

All RPNs practicing in Ontario are members of the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). To meet the requirements for registration, they must be a graduate from a college diploma program in practical nursing from a college approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario.

Our RPNs work under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) and provide various medical and home healthcare services to patients who are medically stable, including:

  • Wound care
  • Administering medications, such as injections, oxygen, and oral and topical medications
  • Personal medical care, such as nail trimming and foot care, and oral cavity suctioning
  • Ostomy and catheter care
  • Post-operative care

Registered Nurse (RN)

An RN undergoes longer and more complex training than an RPN. All RNs in Ontario must have either a baccalaureate obtained through collaborative college-university nursing program or a four-year university nursing program. RNs are trained to look after people with medically complex needs whose condition is unpredictable.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Caregiver as a Personal Assistant

It’s a common misconception that in-home care is for people who are very ill, immobilized and unable to do anything for themselves.  In-home care agencies provide more than just advanced home care for those in dire medical condition. Many of the home care services we offer are the same responsibilities that a lot of people do for their aging parents.

If your parent is still in reasonably good health and living on their own, you may both struggle with the idea of enlisting outside help. It can be hard to justify the expense or “fuss” of home care services for someone who is still mobile and fairly independent. This is very common. Unfortunately, what often ends up happening is that the person who takes on the caregiver role quickly realizes how time-consuming even basic assistance—like grocery shopping, hairdresser appointments, and taking mom to church—can be when also trying to juggle a job, children, and their own household.

To give you an idea of what a typical week looks like for a personal assistant, below is the calendar for a  senior care recipient who does not have a chronic illness or require advanced home health care. Most of the tasks look more like those of a personal assistant than a home healthcare provider, but these are tasks that a home care agency can help with.

They include:

  • Grocery shopping and errands, such as picking up prescriptions, dry cleaning, etc.
  • Meal planning, preparation, and storage
  • Transportation to and from appointments and activities, such as church, social functions, etc.
  • Joyful companionship, such as playing cards, going for walks or to the movies, correspondence, etc.

A broad range of services to choose from and the flexibility to enlist the amount of help that best suits your needs makes caregiving easier on you and the entire family.

 

David Porter, CPCA,
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

The Shortage of Personal Support Workers in Canada – Is There A Solution?

With Canada’s aging population growing at record speed, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a shortage of Personal Support Workers to keep up. Baby Boomers are aging and many had fewer or no children. This not only means more seniors in need of care without children to care for them, but also fewer people of caregiving age to provide professional elderly care services in hospitals, senior care facilities, and at home.

According to Stats Canada, approximately 6 million Canadians are over 65 and the number of Canadians receiving some type of home healthcare sits at around 8 percent of the country’s total population. The estimated number of seniors requiring health care services is expected to double over the next 20 years, according to the Canadian Institute for Health.

These numbers aren’t just affecting seniors looking for private home care, but also those utilizing home healthcare services through the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). Created by the provincial government just two years ago, a client would receive their first home care visit within 10 days. That number jumped to a whopping 77 days in 2017. Though new funding from the government helped drop those wait times, they are rising steadily again with clients currently waiting an average of 28 days for service.

Making It Better

There will always be a need for caregivers and that need has already passed the breaking point.

The federal government recognizes this and has been making an effort to recruit more foreign caregivers through increased funding, incentives, and raising compensation rates. A 5-year pilot program made becoming a caregiver more appealing to those from outside of Canada by offering caregivers the opportunity to apply for permanent residency by securing and maintaining employment for two years.

Canada’s program appears to be the only one in the world that provides access to permanent residency to foreign caregivers. This incentive was put in place to make up for the less-than-desirable realities of the job, such as low pay and unpleasant, and sometimes even abusive or exploitative work conditions.

Unfortunately, many caregivers are finding out that they may not be eligible for permanent residency after being apart from their families and spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on applications, language assessments, and other requirements. The program is set to expire in November 2019 and caregivers who have not completed two years of caregiving work by that date will no longer be eligible to apply. This includes caregivers who have been here for several years, but haven’t been able to accumulate two years’ worth of work experience for reasons beyond their control, such as being let go by employers who no longer need or want care, or having to leave a toxic work environment. If a caregiver is let go or chooses to switch employers, they need to apply for a new work permit—a process that can take close to a year to complete and puts them a step closer to missing the application cut-off.

While the government has introduced new pathways to permanent residency, the requirements for eligibility have created significant new obstacles for caregivers, further adding to the shortage we’re facing now. With a job that can be unpleasant at times, low-paying, and without the guarantee of permanent status, there is little incentive for foreign caregivers to leave their families behind to come work in Canada.

Living Assistance Services takes pride in our high standards when it comes to recruiting PSWs and we maintain this quality with regular performance monitoring and ongoing training from our Registered Nurse. We offer our caregivers compensation that is reflective of the important job they do. We recognize that it takes a special person to care for others and value their commitment to a job that can be quite challenging at times. We also demonstrate our appreciation with an annual luncheon to honor our five-star caregivers and we hold them in the highest regard.

While we wait for the government to (hopefully) implement a permanent solution to this ongoing and likely permanent need for caregivers, we will continue to do our part to make it better.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources
Seniors in Transition: Exploring Pathways Across the Care Continuum. https://www.cihi.ca/en/seniors-in-transition-exploring-pathways-across-the-care-continuum
Live-in Caregiver Program. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/permit/caregiver-program.html
Home and community care. https://www.ontario.ca/page/homecare-seniors
Caregiver Program. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/results-by-topic.asp?top=28

Going solo – you don’t have to

Your spouse has died, your children live far away, and most of your close friends are already in assisted living facilities. This is the reality for many seniors who want to continue to live at home but find themselves alone and wondering how they will manage.

Many people who get to this stage think that moving out of their home and into an assisted living community or with family is the only option, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We can help!

Hiring a Caregiver is Not a Sign of Inability

Hiring in-home care can actually enhance your life and help you live independently longer. It’s not in any way a sign of defeat or a person’s inability to do things, but rather a conscious choice to continue to live life on your terms.

An in-home caregiver can provide home health care services, if needed, but they can also be hired to help you simplify chores. Hiring a caregiver just 4 hours per day, twice per week can help keep your home organized and easier to manage. It’s a way to stay on top of chores and errands so that you can focus on other things.

It’s a common misconception that in-home care services are for people with extensive health or mobility issues. The truth is that in-home care services encompass a broad range of services and tasks designed to give you as much or as little help as you need.

Some of the things that an in-home caregiver can help you with include:

  • Housekeeping
  • Shopping
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Errands
  • Transportation to and from appointments

Hiring a professional to help you with these things doesn’t make you a failure—it makes you a better planner and keeps you in control of your life and independence. Speaking of planning, these services can be modified to help you navigate any bumps in the road, such as an injury or illness. This gives the added peace of mind of having extra help should you need it.

In-home care is help on your terms, based on your needs so that you can live life your way.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Stroke – Effects, Limitations, and After-Care

More than 62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year and approximately 405,000 people in the country are living with the effects of stroke, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

A stroke happens when blood flow to any part of the brain is stopped. Strokes can range in size and the effects depend on the extent of the damage and the part of the brain affected.

The risk of stroke increases significantly after the age of 55. Other risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation (Afib)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity

Limitations Immediately After a Stroke

A stroke can affect various parts of your body and cause a number of limitations, some temporary and others permanent. It often affects your physical, emotional, and cognitive functioning and limits your ability to do many things, including daily tasks that were once easy.

Some of the limitations that are common right after a stroke include:

  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Trouble communicating
  • Trouble walking due to foot drop, muscle weakness in the leg and foot, or paralysis
  • Trouble using an arm or hand because of paralysis or muscle weakness
  • Difficulty controlling your bladder and bowels
  • Inability to drive

Fortunately, many of these things improve with time rehabilitation. In the meantime, the effects of a stroke can affect your ability to live independently.

Type of care required

The limitations placed on a person following a stroke can be difficult to accept and cause frustration, anger, and even depression. It’s important to remember that things will improve. Getting the right type of care after a stroke can make these challenges easier to manage so that the patient can focus on their recovery.

Rehabilitation is the first step and its goal is to get a person back to living as independently as possible. This may take some time, but rehabilitation can help a person learn new skills or relearn old ones, and also includes learning to adapt to any new limitations caused by stroke.

Getting back to your community and living as normally as possible is a key component of stroke after-care, so getting in-home help, whether through the help of family, a professional home care agency, or a combination of both is important.

Some of the care required after stroke may include:

  • Personal care, such as bathing, dressing, and other grooming and hygiene
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Medication administration and management
  • Help making and keeping the environment safe and free of obstacles
  • Housekeeping
  • Escorting to and from physical therapy and other medical appointments
  • Help walking and getting around the home

How the caregiver makes life better

Having a professional caregiver can make life after a stroke better in many ways and take a lot of the stress and frustration off of the patient and family members. Stroke can have a big impact on your relationships. Family members who take on a caregiver role often face significant emotional, financial, and even physical costs when trying to juggle their lives and your care. Enlisting the help of a home care agency can help a person get the best care while providing loved ones with much-needed support.

Professional in-home caregivers can provide all the home care services a person needs after a stroke to help them on their road to recovery in the familiar surroundings of home—which is especially important for those whose memory has been affected.

An in-home care provider doesn’t just perform daily living tasks, but can also provide companionship, which can help reduce the risk of isolation, loneliness, and depression. A warm smile and friendly conversation can do a world of good following something as traumatic as a stroke.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources
2018 Stroke Report. https://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/canada/stroke-report/strokereport2018.ashx
Stroke in Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/stroke-in-canada.html
Recovery and support. https://www.heartandstroke.ca/stroke/recovery-and-support

Caregivers do no harm – Debunking Common Myths

It’s understandable to have some reservations about hiring an in home care provider given that you are inviting a virtual stranger into your home or a loved one’s home. If you or your aging loved one are ill and in an especially vulnerable place, the idea of entrusting a stranger with your/their care can be even harder. Add to this some of the myths about caregivers and the idea of hiring a home care agency can feel like a big risk that you’re not sure is worth taking.

While the odd case of mistreatment in long-term care facilities has made the headlines, the myths about in-home care providers are simply that: myths.

Let’s clarify some of these myths about professional caregivers.

Myth: They’re strangers who cannot be trusted.

Reality: We introduce you and your loved ones to a couple of caregivers so that you can be sure that your caregiver’s experience and personality are a great fit.  Also, because we are a relatively small organization, we are able to take the time to and care to select and screen all potential caregivers. Our hiring process involves thorough interviews and a meticulous references check. Our extensive background check also includes a police clearance certificate, which is a background check completed by the police. Choosing only kind, trustworthy, and experienced caregivers is something we take great pride in.

Myth: They’ll snoop through my things and spy on me or my loved one.

Reality: In-home care providers are extensively trained and part of this training includes discretion. They are trained to be discreet in every way and don’t look at or go where they are not asked to. They provide services with the utmost respect for the care recipient and their family.

Myth: They participate in family quarrels and take sides.

Reality: Caregivers focus on the best outcomes for the client and do not get involved in family quarrels. Caregiving is much more than just a job to our personal support workers (PSWs). They genuinely care about the client and their focus is always on their care.

We understand that making the decision to bring in outside help is not always easy and that many people have misgivings about inviting a caregiver into the home. If you are contemplating in-home care, feel free to get in touch with any questions or concerns. We’re happy to answer your questions candidly so that you can make an informed decision to ensure that you and your loved ones are completely comfortable with.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Co-housing for older adults

Regardless of your age or situation when Golden Girls hit the airwaves, chances are that you, like so many others, thought that their living arrangement seemed like a good deal. Certainly better than Shady Pines, like Sophia often joked about!

Co-housing for older adults, also often called “home sharing for seniors”, is when two or more single, widowed, or divorced seniors move in together as roommates. This trend in housing for seniors is actually an old concept that’s long been practiced in Europe and finally catching on in North America.

The Benefits of a Co-Sharing for Seniors

The thought of living alone as we age can be a bit daunting when you consider financial challenges, health issues, and a shrinking social and support network that often accompanies aging. Loneliness and isolation are also a very real problem for many seniors. The majority of seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible rather than going into a senior care facility and moving in with their children isn’t always possible or even desirable. Taking on a housemate can remedy all of these things.

By sharing your home with another senior, you enjoy companionship, which has been shown to have a number of mental and physical health benefits. Seniors who live with others tend to be healthier, happier because they have friendship and support, eat better, and exercise more.

It Makes Home Care More Affordable

Home care services help seniors continue to live at home longer by helping with tasks that become difficult or by providing advanced home healthcare when a person has health issues. When two or more seniors decide to live together, home care becomes more affordable because they are able to split the costs.

Professional caregivers can come in and help with chores such as housekeeping, grocery shopping, and meal preparation that both parties can benefit from. It also eliminates the need to battle out who’s going to get stuck with what chore! Home care services can also be modified to include home health care should one or both seniors require them due to an injury, illness, or recovering from surgery.

Living with another person provides the comfort of safety and independence. Splitting the cost of professional home care can help you both enjoy safety and independence even longer, regardless of any health challenges that may come up.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

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
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources
Back Pain. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-619-m/2006003/4053542-eng.htm
Degenerative Back Conditions. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16912-degenerative-back-conditions?_ga=2.128921988.947820902.1543350927-1001412253.1542995090
Osteoarthritis. https://www.arthritis.ca/about-arthritis/arthritis-types-(a-z)/types/osteoarthritis