How Companionship Can Play A Crucial Role in Elderly Care

As the Baby Boomers age, their adult children are seeking ways to keep them as healthy and independent as possible. Studies show that seniors do far better when they’re able to remain in their own homes, yet many are unable to do so by themselves. Your elderly parent may need both home care and companionship.

Here are some signs that your aging parent may benefit from having a elderly care/personal support worker:

  • Hospital stay. If the senior has recently been in hospital and has not fully recovered.
  • Hygiene. If the senior is unable to bathe or groom him/herself properly.
  • Housekeeping. If the senior’s home is unclean or in disarray.
  • Health. If physical health is declining, or if the senior is having difficulty taking medication properly.
  • Deficits. If the senior has short-term memory loss or hearing/vision impairment that interferes with daily functioning.
  • Nutrition. If the senior is not eating properly.
    Loneliness. If the senior is unable to get out to social functions, or feels isolated.
What Your Parent Needs

Some self-assessment is useful before you contact a home care agency. What is it that prevents your loved one from eating nutritious meals, for example? Is it because he or she is unwilling or unable to cook balanced meals, or is it because he/she finds it too difficult to shop for groceries? Is your parent isolated because there’s no way for him/her to get out to social events, or is it because hearing loss prevents him/her from joining in group activities? Most seniors will resist the idea that they need help, so prepare for some pushback from your mother and/or father; but rest assured that providing elderly parents with home care to help them live a healthier life will preserve their independence and provide everyone in your family with greater peace of mind.

Choosing the Right Caregiver

Once you’ve got some idea of the ways in which a personal support worker might be able to assist, call various home care agencies and ask them important questions. A good home care agency will send a medical professional such as a Registered Nurse to conduct an initial evaluation and make recommendations.

Top-notch home care agencies take great care when hiring personnel. Make sure that all caregivers are certified PSWs or equivalent, with at least two years experience in the field. Workers should be fairly paid, insured, and carefully screened.

Many home care agencies offer limited types of support and little flexibility. Look for a home care agency that provides all types of support, as well as 24/7 care when needed. Choose an agency that allows PSWs to work in homes, hospitals, and/or nursing facilities. Remember that your family’s needs may change over time.

A big part of the caregiver’s job is to provide your parent with companionship, not just physical help. So choose a home care agency that places value on matching each senior with a PSW who is compatible. This may even include finding a caregiver who speaks your parent’s native language.

After a caregiver is assigned, the home care agency should follow up with regular assessments, making adjustments when necessary.

Provide your aging parent with the ability to continue to live independently – contact Living Assistance Services today!


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

How to Use Technology to Make Aging at Home Easier

Two of the leading causes of hospitalization in Ontario are Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The majority of the people with these illnesses are over the age of 65. Utilizing Telehomecare, seniors can live at home longer and their caregivers can provide better home care and can do so with peace of mind. Telehomecare is now available through Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN’s) and/or select hospitals across Ontario, as outlined below by Sarah Warmington, Supervisor of Program Engagement for Telehomecare.

Transforming the Lives of People with Heart Failure and COPD

With the Telehomecare program, technology is used to deliver healthcare services to patients with CHF and/or COPD in their homes. This is typically done by the monitoring of heart rate, oxygen levels, weight, blood pressure, etc. as well as other health related information. The monitoring is offered with an educational component provided to patients.

Clients are loaned a small tablet, oxygen monitor, blood pressure cuff and scale to monitor their weight and vitals for six months. Clients also answer some questions about their health on the tablet daily, Monday to Friday. The health questions are simple “yes” or “no” questions or rate on a scale of 1-5. For example, “are you having more trouble breathing since yesterday?” This information is sent remotely to the Telehomecare nurse who calls the client if the weight, vitals or answers to the questions on the tablet are concerning.

The Telehomecare nurse also calls clients bi-weekly to do health education on topics such as diet, stress management and medication management. Once the equipment is dropped off and set up by the Telehomecare technician, this program is delivered through the telephone and the equipment. The equipment is simple and easy-to-use. No previous experience with a computer is required. The Telehomecare team supports the client through every step from learning how to use the equipment to goal setting and self-management in order to achieve better health at home.

The goals of Telehomecare are:

  1. Decrease Emergency Department visits
  2. Decrease Hospital admissions
  3. Increase clients’ confidence in their ability to self-manage their chronic disease
  4. Support the client’s doctor or Nurse Practitioner

Telehomecare helps you to learn how to feel better by teaching you about how to identify and manage your symptoms, eating, exercising, managing your medications and setting goals that are unique to you. Clients of all ages—from 33 to 103 years old have completed the program.

In a provincial survey on Telehomecare, 94% responded that Telehomecare improved their ability to self-manage their CHF or COPD. Further, 96% indicated they would likely recommend the program to others. In fact, six months after completing the Telehomecare program, there is an 88% drop in the number of Emergency Department visits made by participants. Considering the average age of someone on Telehomecare is 79 years, these results are impressive! As the wife of one client said, “The program gives me great peace of mind…”

Click here to view a short video of Wendy`s story of Telehomecare transformed her life.
For more information about Telehomehomecare, call Sarah Warmington, at 416.222.2241 x4363

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care
Written by: Sarah Warmington & Opal Rowe

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


Caregiving During the Holiday Season

Here are some suggestions to help make this time of year more joyous and enjoyable for everyone…

Keeping it balanced
  1. Don’t be afraid to say “No, thank you”; and, only agree to do something if it’s comfortably manageable.
  2. Many people have time off during the holidays; and, even if not, people are usually more willing to help.  So, take advantage of this to improve communication and connections and get more support from your network of family and friends.
  3. Specifically, ask family or friends to provide some respite from your caregiving. Just a few hours can help renew your energy.
  4. Be mindful that circumstances change, so some “traditions” may not work anymore.  Don’t force it.  And, if it makes sense, use that change to start a new tradition.
Season-specific caring tips
  1. Schedule activities early in the day if possible.  For someone ill or injured, their fatigue and stress levels can increase throughout the day.
  2. Try to maintain a sense of routine for the care recipient. Ask them how they want to celebrate over the holidays and get them involved with the planning.
  3. Keep decorations to a minimum to avoid clutter that may be hazardous to a frail or disoriented person.
The Holiday Gathering
  1. If you’re getting together with family and/or friends, make it a potluck, or ask a family member(s) to prepare the meal.  Order in, or go out, for your holiday meal!  Some restaurants or grocery stores sell holiday meals for take-out.
  2. Keep the numbers manageable.  Noise and hectic activity can be exhausting for the person who is ill, and can burn you out too!
  3. Unfortunately, holiday gatherings can cause old resentments to resurface when people spend an extended period together – especially when the stress of caregiving is added to the mix.
  4. Holiday gatherings can be a reminder of loss.  It is natural to feel sad.  Try and remember, everyone is doing the best they can.
  5. Avoid comparisons with past holidays.  Yes, your family situation has changed and this year will not be the same as before, but it can still be enjoyed in its own unique way.

In summary, enjoy your time together, celebrate the uniqueness of the situation, don’t overdo it, and ask for help if you need it from family and friends.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


End of Life Care: What To Look For In A Provider

If you or a family member is facing a terminal illness, emotions can be overwhelming. It can sometimes be difficult to know what to do, and who to turn to. Some patients, reluctant to place the burden of caretaking on loved ones, opt to spend their final days in a hospice. But it is often possible for terminally ill patients to remain comfortably at home until the end, as long as the family has the right home care support in place.

When a patient reaches the end of treatment options, the doctor usually refers him/her to a palliative care team. The team may include physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual advisors, and more. Indispensable to the team are the caregivers, both family members and trained personal support workers (PSWs). These people will provide home care, practical support and companionship, which is crucial.

Selecting a Home Care Agency for End of Life Care

Home care agencies provide different types and levels of service, so be sure to do your research. Choose an agency that provides:

  • Choice. Many organizations send a rotating roster of workers. This can be frustrating for patients, and for family members who have to explain the patient’s needs over and over again. The best home care or nursing agencies try to match your family with the perfect PSW. If your family prefers to work with someone who speaks your mother tongue or understands your culture, for example, a good home care agency will have enough diversity to meet that need. Ask to meet several home care candidates, and choose a caregiver who is a good fit for your family, and who can relate with the patient. You will be depending on this person during one of the most challenging times any family will face, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with the caregiver(s) who will be providing home care.
  • Variety of services. Some home care agencies send caregivers for companionship only. Others specialize in providing personal services such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. Be sure to find an agency whose workers will provide a range of services, from administering medication to doing laundry, or from driving the client to appointments to playing cards and running errands, if necessary.
  • Flexibility. Premium home care agencies understand that your home care needs may change from week to week. Choose a home care agency that is open to changing the schedule to fit your needs. You’ll want to find one that offers 24/7 service, and that can provide workers who will support your loved one at home, hospice, or in the hospital.
  • Qualifications. And of course, make sure the home care agency you choose selects personnel very carefully. They should have completed a PSW certificate course, and have at least two year’s experience. They should be screened, insured, and paid fairly.
Accessing Funds for End of Life Care

There are various ways in which services can be delivered through the health system, or privately. You may be eligible for funding for a PSW; more information is available on the Health Canada website.

A good caregiver can provide home care, comfort, and support to the entire family through this most difficult time.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


Why You Should Consider Elderly Care for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

As Canada’s population ages, the prevalence of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, macular degeneration, and type 2 diabetes is increasing. Parkinson’s disease, a chronic, progressive neurological disorder, is also on the rise. Nearly 100,000 Canadians have Parkinson’s disease, and approximately 5,500 new cases are diagnosed each year. Treatment for Parkinson’s may include working with a family physician, a neurologist, a Parkinson’s nurse specialist, a pharmacist, an occupational therapist, and a physiotherapist. In addition, patients may need to consult with a social worker or a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, and a dietician.

If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, each of these professionals will have something valuable to offer. However, one of the most important members of the team you will put together can be the home care professional or Personal Support Worker (PSW.)

What To Expect

Any time one is diagnosed with a life-changing illness, the patient and his/her family experience shock and anxiety about the future. Although there are treatments for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, there is currently no cure. The most common symptoms include tremors, impaired balance, and rigidity of the muscles. Other symptoms may include fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive ailment, it’s important that patients and their families put supports in place as soon as these become necessary.

There are many home care agencies that provide caregivers. Some of these home care agencies offer a limited number of services, delivered by a rotating roster of PSWs. This results in care that can be less than optimal, and inevitably leads to frustration for patients and their families. A far better option is to seek out a home care agency that will match you or your loved one with a specific caregiver on the basis of compatibility. It’s best to interview candidates and choose a home health care PSW who is a good “fit” for the client. This might include complementary temperaments, a similar sense of humour, a common mother tongue, or shared interests and hobbies.

Support for Daily Living

Make sure to select an assisted living agency that hires qualified and experienced personnel. Any caregiver you engage should have a PSW certificate from a respected college or learning institution, and should be properly screened and insured. He or she should have at least one year of experience in the field and should be knowledgeable about Parkinson’s in particular.

You’ll want to consider the fact that your family’s situation may evolve, so choosing a home care agency that provides flexibility regarding hours and locations is a good move.

Also make sure that the home care agency’s personnel provide a wide variety of services. You’ll want a PSW who can provide whatever is best for your family, and that can include everything from administering medication, driving the client to a dinner party, doing laundry, or playing cards.

Finally, look for an agency that is able to provide plenty of references from former and current home care clients. A caregiver can become an integral part of your family’s plan for coping with Parkinson’s disease, and the right PSW can make a tremendous difference to your quality of life.

In fact, a good caregiver can be one of your greatest assets in facing the challenges that living with Parkinson’s can bring.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


What to Look Out For When Visiting Your Elderly Parents Over the Holidays

The holiday season is one for festivities, and for many of us, it is also a time for visiting with our parents. While visiting with your parents, you noticed that things with them are not quite the same. Perhaps you have noticed:

How do you know when your parents need help?
  • Difficulty with or inability to perform routine activities, such as dressing.
  • Physiological changes, such as gaining or losing weight or sleeping too much or too little.
  • Certain physical clues around your parents’ home, such as unopened mail or an unusually untidy environment.
  • Abnormal behaviour, such as aggression or lack of motivation.
  • New or worsening health problems.
  • Decreasing socialising or leisure activities
  • Forgetting the names of household items
  • Decreased judgment regarding finances e.g. overspending

However, it is important to note that you are looking for any obvious signs of change, says Opal Rowe of Living Assistance Services from the Richmond Hill office, and that you do not confuse the stress of the holiday preparation with signs of dementia and other self-diagnosed illness. If you have concluded that there is clearly a pattern of decline in your parents, but you are unsure what to do next, one thing is certain: it is never too early to start planning for what might come.

How to Plan for your Parents’ Care
  1. Talk with your parents about your concerns. However it is best to avoid the conversation until after the holidays unless there are safety concerns for your parents. When you are having the conversation, begin by mentioning what is worrying you, and then suggest measures, such as home care, that you can take to make things better.
  2. Discuss the idea of having a health assessment done by their primary care physician.
  3. Determine if your loved ones have some legal questions and would benefit from making an appointment with an attorney – preferably one who specializes in elder law.
  4. Have a family meeting. This is essential, especially if you have siblings.
  5. Your parents may need help with house cleaning or bill paying.
  6. Ask how they would feel about having a home care specialist visit a couple times a week.
  7. In-home care is a logical first step for those who need help for a few hours a day. You may be able to convince your parents of this by reminding them that keeping them healthy and safe would allow them to continue living in their home.
  8. Plan for health emergencies. Keep a record of your parents’ doctors, medications, etc. Know where they keep their important documents.
  9. Identify people that can be your eyes and ears when you go back home, such as neighbours, family and friends. Make sure everyone on your list has your contact information in case of an emergency.
  10. Learn about resources and services available in your loved ones’ community.

The more systems you have in place, the more your parents will be kept independent and safe in their own home, giving you some peace of mind as you return from your holiday.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


11 Tried and True Caregiver Survival Tips

Are you a caregiver to one or both of your parents, or likely to become one? The best way to survive what is sure to be a task filled with challenges is to take care of yourself, and knowing what to expect, so that you can better care for them.

Caregiving can be a stressful an demanding endeavour.

Based on Elaine K Sanchez’s book, Letters from Madelyn: Chronicles of a Caregiver, here are 11 tried and true survival tips:

1. Set aside some time each day for yourself.

Set aside some time each day for yourself. Having something to look forward to will help ease your stress.

2. Get the right equipment.

Get the right equipment. As with any job, having the right tools will protect you from unnecessary strain or injury.

3. Go outside.

Go outside. Let the sights, sounds, and smells of nature lift your spirits.

4. Learn something new.

Learn something new. Even if you are confined physically, there is no limit to how far your mind can go.

5. Stay socially active.

Stay socially active. Participating in respite care programs and visiting with friends and family can help prevent depression and illness brought on by isolation.

6. Look for humour in absurd situations and redefine fun.

Look for humour in absurd situations and redefine fun. When faced with something that is difficult or frustrating, ask yourself, “Is there anything funny about this?” Also, seek new ways to bring joy and interest into your life.

7. Savour happy memories.

Savour happy memories. Recall a specific occasion when you were happy and focus on recapturing the positive, loving feelings it evokes.

8. Find a safe release for negative emotions.

Find a safe release for negative emotions. Accept that you will not always feel and act as loving and kind as you would like. When experiencing extreme stress, get active—exercise, breathe deeply, write a rant, listen to music, call a friend, or scream into a pillow. Letting off a little steam can be a very good thing.

9. Accept help.

Accept help. It is often much easier to give than to receive. If someone offers home care help, understand that he/she is giving you a gift. Accept it graciously.

10. Develop your spiritual side.

Develop your spiritual side. You may find comfort in faith. You may find it in music, meditation, or nature. If there is something that ignites your spirit, explore it, embrace it and let your soul soar.

11. Accept that death is a part of life.

Accept that death is a part of life. Talking openly about death can help relieve your fear and allow you to tell your loved one everything you want him or her to know. Then when the end comes, you will grieve the loss, but you will not have regrets about things left unsaid.

Let us know your comments. Do you have any tips to add to the list?


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


Geriatric Care: When Should You Consider it for Your Loved One

If your parents are aging, you may already be familiar with many aspects of geriatric care. Like many other adult children with elderly parents, you’ll want to optimize their ability to function independently, and that may involve accessing many support services. One of the most important of these services can be Home Care.

Does Your Parent Need Home Care?

Seniors are notoriously resistant to the suggestion that they may need help. In addition, some of them are very clever at hiding the fact that they aren’t managing well. Here are some signs that an elderly person may need the help of a personal support worker (PSW):

  • Hygiene. If the senior’s personal hygiene is sub-par, it’s possible that he or she needs help with bathing, grooming, or dressing.
  • Untidy home. Sometimes household tasks like washing the floor or doing the laundry become unmanageable for seniors.
  • Recent hospital stay. If your senior has recently come home from the hospital and is not yet fully recovered, it’s probable he/she needs someone to help out.
  • Deficits. Loss of short-term memory, or impairments of sight or hearing can be devastating, and can affect a senior’s ability to function properly.
  • Complex medication. If your senior takes multiple medications, he/she may need someone to help organize and administer them, or to monitor blood sugar/blood pressure or provide wound care.
  • Poor nutrition. Many seniors are unable or unwilling to cook balanced meals, and this can lead to serious health problems.
  • Family stress. If a parent is demanding too much from family members, it can impact relationships and careers.

A trained and experienced PSW providing home care can make a huge difference to the life of a struggling senior. With regular support, many seniors can continue to live independent lives.

Home Care Agencies

Some home care agencies offer a limited number of hours, or a limited list of services. Many send a rotating roster of personnel, which can be confusing or frustrating for seniors. Some organizations don’t require employees to have any formal training, or hire inexperienced workers. Before selecting a PSW for your parent, research agencies that offer experience in elderly care and make sure you choose well. Finding a capable, experienced caregiver who will support your parent over the course of several years can improve your family’s quality of life immeasurably.

Some of the hallmarks of a good agency are:

  • Qualifications. Personnel are skilled, certified, and experienced. They have insurance, have been carefully screened, and are paid fairly.
  • Flexibility. Schedules can be adjusted; workers can go to homes, hospitals, or nursing homes, and help is available 24/7.
  • Services. Workers will help with medication and can provide personal care such as bathing and grooming, will perform housekeeping tasks like vacuuming, doing dishes, preparing meals when requested, and will provide companionship.
  • Choice. Home care agencies will often have PSWs available who speak various languages and understand various cultures.

Finding the right PSW gives your elderly loved one the gift of continued independence, and brings you peace of mind. If you’re interested in finding home care for your elderly loved one, contact Living Assistance Services today at 1-855-483-2273. Our qualified staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


Live-in Elderly Care: What Are The Advantages

Live-in Elderly Care

Today’s seniors are living independently for longer periods of time and more successfully than elderly people ever have, yet there comes a time in most seniors’ lives when it becomes impossible for them to manage personal and household tasks by themselves. When this happens, many families choose to place loved ones in retirement homes where they can have access to round-the-clock care. However, seniors are notoriously resistant to leaving their own homes, and sometimes this suggestion is met with fierce opposition. For seniors who have the ability to do so, hiring live-in elderly care can be the perfect option.

The Caregiver Advantage

A personal support worker, or PSW, can support an elderly person in various ways. The four general areas where PSWs provide help are:

  • Health. Under the supervision of an RN, caregivers can organize and administer several home care services, medications, provide monitoring of blood sugar, blood pressure, or other vital signs, offer wound care, or perform tasks such as putting on pressure stockings. Taking clients to medical appointments also falls under this category.
  • Personal. A PSW home care assistant is trained to safely bathe and toilet those who require these services. They will also help to dress and groom clients.
  • Home. Seniors often become overwhelmed by the demands of maintaining their home. PSWs can make nutritious meals and perform basic housekeeping work such as laundry, dishes, vacuuming, bed-making, etc.
  • Companionship. A PSW home care assistant can become a cherished companion, providing conversation and engaging the senior in activities such as hobbies, card games, or social events.

It’s typical for a home care PSW to begin by providing a few hours of home care assistance per day. As the situation evolves, the senior may require more continual home care support. It’s not always possible for the original caregiver to become a live-in PSW, but it does sometimes happen. More information about accessing home health care can be found on these websites:

Trust Is Essential

When you’re choosing a caregiver for a loved one, it’s important to know that you can place your complete trust in the individual. Key to this is selecting the right home care agency. Some of the characteristics of a good home care agency include:

  • Qualified personnel. Choose a home care agency that requires all employees to have PSW training and certification. Also ensure that the agency carefully screens employees, insures them, and pays them adequately.
  • References. A good home care agency will willingly provide you with references or testimonials from current and past elderly care clients.
  • Choice. Don’t go with a home care agency that can’t offer you a choice of caregivers. A good home care agency will send several candidates for interview, allowing you to choose the one you think fits best with your family. Premium home care agencies have a diverse range of caregivers working for them, so finding a PSW who shares your loved one’s mother tongue, culture, or values may be possible. Of course, shared sense of humour or shared interests may be just as important!

Finding the right live-in caregiver for your elderly family member who requires home care can make a huge difference to everyone’s quality of life. The client feels secure with support and companionship on-site at all times and family members have peace of mind knowing that their loved one is cared for.


Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care