The Benefits of a PSW for a Dementia Sufferer

Dementia is one of the most common conditions affecting seniors in Canada. With the aging of the “Baby Boomer” generation, it’s expected that by 2031, 1.4 million Canadians will suffer from dementia. If a family member has been diagnosed with dementia, you may be worrying about what the future has in store. Medical professionals will be able to advise you regarding the various options available but no matter what you decide, you should consider engaging a Personal Support Worker (PSW). A PSW provides home care and companionship to seniors, allowing them – and their families – to experience a better quality of life.

Benefits of Hiring a Caregiver

Patients with dementia often have difficulty with “activities of daily living,” or ADLs in medical parlance. If your loved one is living at home, you may be providing help with these ADLs. Hiring a home care agency can lighten your workload, and may even provide a more comfortable experience for your spouse or parent. Sometimes having a professional home care agency look after the Care Recipeint’s personal hygiene, for example, is a great relief to family members who find that these duties can affect their previous relationship. A PSW is trained in ways to accomplish these tasks easily and efficiently.

Trained caregivers can help to organize medications, treat wounds, or help with recommended therapies such as pressure stockings. They can also offer housekeeping support, performing tasks like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and tidying. They can drive the client to medical appointments, or escort them out to socialize or shop.

Many agencies provide caregivers, but some of these perform only a limited range of functions in the home setting. Better home care agencies have PSW’s that will provide a wide variety of support and care to your family member in a number of different settings, 24/7. Keep in mind that your loved one’s needs will change over time, so when engaging a PSW it’s best to use a home care agency that offers maximum flexibility. A good caregiver will form a lasting bond with your family and will advocate for your loved one no matter where he or she is living.

Finding the Right PSW

Beware of agencies that send many different PSWs on a rotating basis, as this is unsettling for any Care Recipien and can cause great stress for dementia patients. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a home care agency that puts value on finding one compatible caregiver (and a regular backup) who will be a steady presence in your family’s life. This might include finding a PSW who speaks your loved one’s first language, for example, or one who has the same hobbies or interests. Better home care agencies allow you to interview several candidates and choose the one that’s right for your family.

Make sure that the home care agency you choose hires only caregivers who have completed Personal Support Worker training at a reputable college or learning institution, and that employees are carefully screened, insured, and well paid. A supervisor who is a Registered Nurse is also beneficial.

Finally, select an elderly care agency that does regular “check-ins” to ensure that your family member is receiving exactly the care that they need.

A diagnosis of dementia can be devastating for both the patient and family members, but finding good home care can help to make a challenging situation manageable.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


What Do Great Caregivers Have in Common?

The criteria we used to choose our five-star caregivers were objective and measurable. However, once the group was selected, it was very clear that what distinguishes these caregivers is a set of intrinsic qualities that some human beings possess. It is all about personality and how it fits with the care recipient and his or her family. The following are some of the common traits we identified among our five-star caregivers.

Empathy and Compassion

Whether providing elderly care for someone who is ill or recovering from surgery, understanding and connection are vital. Good caregivers realize that care recipients may feel vulnerable, frightened, confused and uncomfortable. Being able to identify and allay these fears can create a sense of calm and trust for those receiving home care.


People needing home care usually do not have the same priorities or urgency
as those who don’t. They may take an hour to eat a small meal or to put their clothes on, even if they have to be at an appointment. A great caregiver has the patience to adjust to the moods or behavioural changes in the care recipient and to weather his or her bad days.

Emotional Maturity

People receiving home care typically lack the ability to be fully independent and self- sufficient, which can lead to frustration and lashing out. Many seniors are also diagnosed with a form of dementia that can cause behaviour that is often challenging for caregivers to deal with. Good caregivers can separate themselves from potential anger and resentment and avoid taking the situation personally while continuing to provide high-quality service.


Care recipients come to depend upon their caregivers and often grow attached
to them. Caregivers must always be punctual, particularly if they are providing food or administering medical care. Unless there is an emergency, a terrific caregiver shows up on time even during adverse weather conditions.


Very few things in life are stable or constant. With the sick and elderly, needs and priorities change and unexpected events happen, sometimes suddenly.
A good caregiver is prepared to go with the flow and provides quality care consistently as changes occur.

Encouragement with Realistic Expectations

Great caregivers can calm and reassure those they are caring for. They recognize their capabilities and encourage self-sufficiency while still providing the necessary amount of attention to their home care duties. They have realistic expectations about their care recipients’ capabilities and offer individualized and appropriate elderly care while helping care recipients maintain their dignity and independence.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

Memory loss that disrupts everyday life is not part of the normal aging process. It is a symptom of dementia, a gradual and progressive decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder that results in the loss of brain cells.The Alzheimer Society, a national leader in the fight against Alzheimer’s, believes that it is critical for people with dementia and their families to receive information as early as possible. To help family members and health care professionals recognize warning signs, here is a checklist of the top 10 common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease that the Society has developed.

1. Memory Loss

One of the most common early signs of dementia is forgetting recently learned information. While it is normal to forget appointments, names, or telephone numbers, those with dementia will forget such things more often and not remember them later.

2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks

People with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks that are so familiar we usually do not think about how to do them. A person with Alzheimer’s may not know the steps for preparing a meal, using a household appliance, or participating in a lifelong hobby.

3. Problems with language

Everyone has trouble finding the right words sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer’s disease often forgets simple words, making his or her speech or writing hard to understand. If a person with Alzheimer’s is unable to find his or her toothbrush, for example, the individual may ask for “that thing for my mouth.”

4. Disorientation to time and place.

It’s normal to forget the day of the week or where you’re going. But people with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost on their own street, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.

5. Poor or decreased judgment.

No one has perfect judgment all the time. Those with Alzheimer’s may dress without regard to the weather, wearing several shirts or blouses on a warm day or very little clothing in cold weather. Individuals with dementia often show poor judgment about money, giving away large amounts of money to Telemarketers or paying for home repairs or products they don’t need.

6. Problems with abstract thinking.

Balancing a checkbook may be hard when the task is more complicated than usual. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.

7. Misplacing things.

Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or key. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer, a wristwatch in the sugar bowl, or a sandwich under the sofa.

8. Changes in mood or behavior.

Everyone can become sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease can show rapid mood swings, from calm to tears to anger, for no apparent reason.

9. Changes in personality.

People’s personalities ordinarily change somewhat with age. But a person with Alzheimer’s disease can change a lot, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, fearful, or dependent on a family member.

10. Loss of initiative.

It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations at times. The person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual, or not wanting to do usual activities.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


Senior Home Care: What To Look For

Senior Home Care

Access to home care varies greatly throughout Canada. Many rural communities have little or no access to services, while cities may have a large range of choices available. The Greater Toronto Area is one of the best-served regions of the country, with virtually every type of personal home care – including first rate senior home care – available at all times.

However, it’s important to research your home care options carefully. Some home care agencies provide only limited types of services, or can only offer a few hours of assistance per week. If you are dependent on government funding, you may only be eligible to engage caregivers from certain agencies. (More information about funding can be found on government websites, such as this Ontario Ministry of Health site.)

However, if you are able to choose a top-notch agency to provide your home care, you’ll have a wide range of services and times available to you. Premier agencies also provide benefits like choice, 24/7 availability, and certified personnel.

Assessing Your Needs

The first step is to evaluate your own home care needs. Bear in mind that the goal of home care is to help seniors remain as independent as possible. Perhaps very little assistance is needed – a ride to the grocery store once a week, for example, or help getting to medical appointments. Or maybe the care recipient is experiencing difficulty with daily tasks such as bathing and grooming. In these cases, you could hire someone on a regular but limited basis. A few hours one day a week in the first instance, and a daily morning visit in the second case would be sufficient.
On the other hand, it may be that you have been recently released from hospital and are recovering from an illness or operation. In this case you might need round-the-clock home care for a short period of time that tapers off as you get well.

Or, you could be experiencing progression of a debilitating condition, in which case you might want a substantial amount of help that evolves to live-in support as your condition changes.

Finding the Right Care

Good home care agencies will send a registered nurse to perform an initial assessment of their own, and may offer suggestions that will work for you. While some agencies send caregivers from their roster on a rotating basis (as they are available), better agencies provide you with one primary caregiver. Premium agencies will try to match you with a PSW who shares your mother tongue, culture, values, hobbies, or interests. Some home care agencies will send several candidates and allow you to make the final choice and will employ a Registered Nurse as an advisor and supervisor.

When interviewing agencies, make sure the one you choose has a rigorous employee screening process (including police checks and reference checks). Your caregiver should have PSW training and a certificate from a recognized college, general insurance, and coverage under Worker’s Compensation.

Look for flexibility and accountability in the agency’s policies, with regularly scheduled “check-ins” to make sure you are receiving the service you deserve.

A little support from a PSW can help you retain your independence and self-esteem. Contact a premium Living Assistance Agency in your area today and learn more about how home care can add to your quality of life!

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care