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What Is Palliative Care and Why You May Want To Consider It?

What Is Palliative Care and Why You May Want To Consider It? Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing a life-threatening illness. Palliative care aims to prevent and relieve suffering by means of early identification, assessment, and treatment of pain as well as physical, psychosocial and spiritual issues. Palliative care is not just care provided in the final stages of life, but will help a person live well with a terminal illness. Sometimes palliative care can be of benefit for a person at their initial diagnosis of a life-limiting condition, or be useful on and off through various stages of an illness. Many people have long-term interactions with their palliative care team, seeing them during the course of their illness. End of life care should help a loved one live as well as possible until death, and to die with dignity. Palliative care properly executed should take into consideration wishes and preferences of the patient, and work with the patient to help plan your care. Family and carers should also be supported, both during the illness and afterward during bereavement. Who delivers palliative care? Palliative care involves many health professionals who all bring a range of skills to help you manage your illness. These professions include, but are not limited to: 1. Doctors 2. Nurses 3. Social workers 4. Physiotherapists 5. Occupational and speech therapists 6. Psychologists 7. Trained volunteers Care planning for palliative care It is important to inform those closest to you of your wishes for care should you be living with a life limiting illness. It...

Why a Live-In Caregiver Can be Beneficial to You

Why a Live-In Caregiver Can be Beneficial to You Living into elder years is a privilege, made better when surrounded by caring family and friends. Having the support you need when activities of daily living (ADLs)–like showering, bathing, dressing, and fixing meals–become challenging, will help families and loved ones enjoy their elder years with dignity. When a lot of care is needed, or long periods of care and vigilance, it is often most economical and practical to hire a live-in caregiver.  Retire-At-Home Services, as well as many other home care agencies in Toronto, offers a live-in care program. Live-in care will be more economical than taking hourly services from a company or staff of caregivers. Money is saved with live-in care, because the caregiver is paid on a daily or weekly stipend, rather than an hourly wage.   There are a few ways to approach live-in care: Hire a home health care company in Toronto to supply you with certified personal support workers (PSWs) who have a known work history, criminal record check, training, and supervision. The company will look after scheduling and providing back-up staff whenever a PSW is ill or is taking vacation. Place an ad and hire your own workers. You will have to do the interviewing, reference checks, scheduling, supervision, and payroll yourself. If you are already short of time and energy, this may not solve a lot of your problems as you will have to supervise the employee and deal with their scheduling problems – two very time-consuming activities. Apply to an agency for permanent placement of a live-in caregiver. A company like Diamond...

Hospital Discharge: Why You May Want to Consider Getting Help

Hospital Discharge: Why You May Want to Consider Getting Help A trip to the hospital can be a really intimidating event both for the patient and their family.  Hearing the word “discharge” is a much-anticipated moment, but it is also a time to think about what will happen when your family member is back home. We are often so focused on getting mom or dad home that we don’t realise the work and stress that is involved if extra help will be needed until life is back to normal. Hospital discharge to the home needs to be a safe transition.  Your hospital will have excellent staff helping with this transition – usually social workers, discharge nurses and coordinators.  They will insist that advanced preparation and coordination is required by the family before your loved one is discharged. It is vital that medication is well organized, and follow-up appointments are booked. At-home recovery instructions will need to be in place as well as transportation and in-home safety equipment. Having an effective discharge plan is critical for a safe and successful recovery and to avoid readmission. In fact, the founder of Retire-At-Home Irene Martin, started this business over twenty years ago for this very reason.  As a nurse at the hospital she saw seniors being readmitted again and again because families were not properly equipped to help with the recovery.  The hospital staff who assists you with the discharge plan, will let you know if you qualify for support from CCAC (Community Care Access Centre).  In Toronto, you can learn more about CCAC by calling 310-2222 or visit their website at...

Helping Seniors Accept Help at Home

Helping Seniors Accept Help at Home One of the biggest challenges that you may encounter when caring for your mother or father, is resistance to outside assistance.  You are in a situation where you’re doing all you can to meet their needs but are at risk of caregiver burnout.  Understanding why they are resistant can help you to develop a strategy towards cooperation.  If a senior family member is in need of care, they are likely dealing with a loss of independence as well as a decrease in physical and/or mental capacity.  Accepting external help might seem to them like they are relinquishing privacy and control. As a result, she may feel vulnerable and frightened.  She likely feels guilty about becoming a burden to friends and family.  Anger and frustration may surface because she doesn’t want to be perceived as weak or incapable of completing activities of daily living.  Memory loss may also make it difficult for your senior loved one to understand why they need help. If your family suspects that mom or dad will resist getting home care, they may avoid the topic altogether.  Unfortunately, this is the approach many people take and care is not implemented until something major has happened; like a fall or unintentional medication mistakes. Here are some tips that might help with your conversation about extra help for your parents: Give some thought to what kind of help your parents need. While a Retire-At-Home Nurse will provide a complimentary assessment, you should do one on your own.  Ask yourself when your parents are at the most risk. When you do decide to...

Home Care Services and the Stages of Alzheimer’s disease

In many cases, home care is needed for care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease when safety of the loved one comes into question, and self-care abilities decline. The stages below provide an overall idea of how abilities change once symptoms appear, and should only be used as a general guide.   The stages are separated into three different categories: Mild or early Alzheimer’s disease, Moderate Alzheimer’s disease, and Severe or late Alzheimer’s disease. Be aware that it may be difficult to place a person with Alzheimer’s in a specific stage as stages may overlap. The stages of Alzheimer’s are helpful in finding the words to discuss Alzheimer’s. Caregivers find them particularly useful in support groups, as well as in conversations with doctors and other professionals. Mild or early stage Alzheimer’s In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may function independently. He or she may still drive, work, and be part of social activities. In the early Alzheimer’s stage, people may experience: Memory loss for recent events,and repeatedly ask the same question. Difficulty with problem-solving, complex tasks and sound judgments.Planning a family event, keeping score in a game, or balancing a chequebook may become overwhelming. Changes in personality.People may become subdued or withdrawn — especially in socially challenging situations — or show uncharacteristic irritability or anger. Decreased attention span and reduced motivation to complete tasks also are common. Difficulty organizing and expressing thoughts. Getting lost or misplacing belongings. Confusion of where things belong is possible (e.g. may put a towel in the fridge) Early stage Alzheimer’s and home care services Families with loved ones in early stage Alzheimer’s...

The Elderly and Alcohol

The elderly and Alcohol: What Seniors and their Caregivers Should Know Are your parents 65 and older and like to enjoy a glass of wine (or two) from time-to-time?  Have you noticed that things have changed a little for them after a few drinks compared to earlier days?  Perhaps their hands shake a little more than you noticed in the past, their balance is more easily affected or you might find them not thinking as clearly.  What is going on and what has brought on this change? The truth is that when we arrive at our mid to late 60’s, the effects of alcohol are much more significant (and damaging) on us than it did when we were younger.  As with all stages of life, our bodies are changing and we are just not able to process alcohol as easily as we once could.  The same amount of alcohol that was fine when your parents were 50 is too much for them now.  Why this is happening, and what are the risks that are involved if we have too much to drink? The elderly and alcohol: Why alcohol has a greater effect There are several reasons why alcohol has such a strong effect on elderly drinkers. These include: Prescription medicines and alcohol rarely mix.  As we age, we may have to take prescribed drugs to treat chronic ailments.  Mixing the two together can cause nausea, drowsiness and reduced motor skills (to name a few). More than 150 medications commonly prescribed to seniors can result in problems if consumed with alcohol; some may not work as they are meant to,...

Preparing a Seniors’ Emergency Kit

Due to Toronto’s frequent electrical black outs, it is important for your parents to have a seniors’ emergency kit to-hand to help them be comfortable and safe until power is restored or help arrives. During an unexpected emergency, having an accessible kit at home can save a senior’s life.  Family, neighbours and home care staff should should help prepare survival kits for seniors who live at home alone. Each kit should have enough supplies to help a person live for at least three days. Why Do People need a Seniors’ Emergency Kit in Their Homes? A great example can be taken from the Toronto “Ice Storm of 2013”.  Power had already been out for over 24 hours, and homes without a wood-burning stove were getting very cold.  It was dark by 5:00 p.m. and power wouldn’t be restored to many homes until after Boxing Day.  We received a call at 9:00 p.m. on December 22nd from a client in East York – she was 96 years old at the time.  She said “I’m getting very cold and I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.”  We told her we would be right over.  When we arrived, her house was down to 7C and she sat bundled in her recliner in the pitch dark.  She hadn’t been to the bathroom since the afternoon because it was too dark for her to maneuver.  We were able to assist her with her immediate needs and then get her over to a friend’s home that had power and heat. Power outages caused by winter storms, heavy winds, or flooding can...

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Seniors

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Seniors The benefits of physiotherapy for seniors are many. Restoring or maintaining movement and balance, recuperating after surgery, and decreasing or managing pain.  Physiotherapy can help seniors stay healthy and capable of living at home longer, and independently.  For the convenience of seniors living at home, Retire-At-Home Services Toronto offers in-home physiotherapy to help restore or maintain good health. Benefits of physiotherapy for seniors: Maintaining independence The benefits of physiotherapy for seniors include restoring and maintaining mobility, balance, and a level of physical activity. Physiotherapy may be the secret to sustaining a completely independent lifestyle at home. Research indicates that the ability to maintain physical function also improves overall health by enhancing psychological and social well-being. The longer individuals maintain a physically active lifestyle, the longer they enjoy a healthy life of independence. As a senior home health care company in Toronto, lack of mobility is one of the biggest reasons why we are called into a home to help a senior. Getting out to buy groceries, walking up and down stairs to the laundry, cleaning the house, getting into and out of the shower; these activities require physical movement that becomes challenging with age. In many cases, physiotherapy can help increase capability to do these movements, or maintain current ability to prevent decline. Benefits of physiotherapy for seniors: Recuperation from fractures Besides maintaining the physical abilities of healthy, but inactive patients, other uses of physiotherapy for the elderly include recuperation from fractures. After hospitalization for a fracture or because of illness, physical therapy gradually helps patients regain the physical strength and mobility enjoyed prior to the...

Renovating for seniors: Aging in Place at home

Aging in Place at home   Aging in place at home is still a viable option for seniors who prefer to stay at home rather than move into a senior living facility like a retirement or nursing home.  The decision to stay home or leave is often a function of one or more of the following: Cost, Health and safety, Proximity to family, or Emotional attachment Typically, the primary reason for moving into a nursing or retirement residence is due to concern for the safety of a loved one.  Perhaps mom has had a fall coming down the stairs of the family home where she has lived for forty years.  Maybe dad has left the stove on one too many times.  The infrastructure of a retirement facility is seen as a safety umbrella, and a common reason to consider a retirement residence or assisted living facility. For some, leaving the family home is just not an option, but something must be done to ensure mom and dad’s health and safety.  Changing the home environment to better suit your parents’ needs will probably be necessary. Aging in Place: Creating a Safe Living Space at home Here is a list of things to consider for creating a safe living space: Location, Location, Location Washer and Dryer (move them up from the basement) Dishwasher – can it be raised so that bending down is not required? Bathroom – a full bathroom on the main floor is often essential Bedrooms – is there a full-sized bedroom on the main floor, can you easily convert part of the living room? Cupboards – how high...

Executor help: Before it is needed

Executor help If you are the executor of your parent’s will, or a spouse who is now facing this task, Retire-At-Home Services Toronto and North York would like to offer you some “executor help”. Knowing that your parents are getting elderly, and possibly facing a life threatening surgery or illness, it may be important to begin gathering information and documents as soon as possible.  Having the help of your parents in locating the information and documents needed would be invaluable.  Searching for the information after your loved one passes may be more difficult, but not impossible. Penny Schneider, who owns the Toronto company ‘The Estate Organizer’, is one of the most organized and thorough people we know.  If you need a helping hand, or someone to take over this daunting task altogether, you can contact her at http://www.theestateorganizer.ca . Penny advises that everyone should compile an “Executor Start Here” file, so that in any health or life threatening emergency, an executor or power of attorney can lay their hands on the information they need. The documents and information in the “Executor Start Here” file should lead you to all of the assets and important documents needed to look after someone’s estate. Whether you are organizing your parents’ estate matters or creating an emergency information kit for yourself, this list will give you an idea of some of information to include: 1.       Will, Trust and Powers of Attorney Documents To be an executor or power of attorney, you will need to be able to find the Will, Trust, and power of attorney documents in order to act. If you prefer...
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