Toronto In-Home Care Blog

4 Ways to Help Caregivers

Posted by Steve Jones

Tue, Dec 9, 2014

mother_daughterFamily and professional caregivers play an integral role keeping their patients and loved ones healthy, active and emotionally fulfilled. All too often, as the caregiver juggles personal life, their job and health care duties, they become overworked and exhausted, resulting in health complications of their own. Similarly to the care recipient, the caregiver requires a support system that provides assistance when needed. 

Supporting a caregiver doesn't necessarily mean assuming some of the care giving duties with the patient or loved one. Even small jobs, when taken off the caregivers plate, can reduce stress levels and fatigue, meaning better care for the patient and a higher quality of life for the caregiver.

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Topics: Family caregivers

How to Become a Happier, Healthier Family Caregiver

Posted by Steve Jones

Fri, Dec 5, 2014

flickr_808magicLast October, a study came out from a group of nursing schools in Japan about the effects of caregiving on a person's overall sense of well-being, their sense of care burden, and their perceived ability to handle stress.

The study was conducted through questionnaires and interviews with male family caregivers, as they are taking on more roles that were previously dominated by women. Although there are still more female caregivers (69.4%) than males (30.6%), the number of male caregivers is on the rise and it was thought important to understand their issues as well as women's concerns.

The ages of the male Japanese caregivers in the study ranged from 54 to 85. They all received support from home-visit nursing or elder care support centres. In general, those under 65 reported higher on the self-reported health index than those over 75, which is to be expected.

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Topics: Family caregivers

5 Considerations When Becoming a Family Caregiver

Posted by Steve Jones

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

live-in-careBecoming a family caregiver is a major decision. It requires lifestyle and financial adjustments that are difficult to consider in advance. Yet when it comes down to it, the health and safety of our family members takes precedence over almost any other consideration.

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Topics: Family caregivers

5 Essential Financial Considerations When Becoming a Senior Caregiver

Posted by Steve Jones

Sat, Nov 22, 2014

Signature_PenThere are a myriad of issues to consider when deciding to become a part- or full-time caregiver for a loved one. Senior care isn't an easy occupation and requires endless patience and many sacrifices. However, being able to give back and help improve the situation of a husband, wife, or parent is worth the time and energy.

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Topics: Family caregivers

The Benefits of Caregiving

Posted by Steve Jones

Tue, Nov 11, 2014

seniorcaregiver_small“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” 
~ Maya Angelou

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
~ Dalai Lama

Popular media and quite a bit of scientific research have tended to focus on the negative aspects of family caregiving. Most people believe that caregiving is stressful, expensive, time-consuming and hard on relationships. Yet there are many positive results from caregiving.

Giving back is based in our biology. The nurturing instincts that inspire us to care for our children make us want to care for others, too. A 5-year study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that giving to others reduces anxiety and much of the negative impact that stress has on your health.

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Topics: Family caregivers

9 Tips for an Easier Hospital Discharge

Posted by Steve Jones

Wed, Oct 29, 2014

Leaving_hospital_Saikofish_PhotoPinMany people get as little as 24 hours notice before being discharged from the hospital. This can cause some consternation, especially when the patient has been in the hospital for a while. You have to go to work, your son has a dentist appointment that can't be missed, no one has been in Grandpa's house since he went into the hospital, etc. It often means no family member can be available to assist with transfer from hospital to home and to stay with their loved one at home while they recover.

Hospital staff will start organizing for patient discharge whether the patient and family members are ready or not. Family members who receive a call that their loved one will be discharged are faced with a small window of time to make all the arrangements. They may not know what is needed to take care of the loved one at home. There are lots of moving pieces and frequently little guidance from overworked hospital staff.

Here are some tips to help you manage the hospital discharge process:

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Topics: Family caregivers, Healthcare system

Delegation of Controlled Acts - What You Need to Know

Posted by Steve Jones

Sat, Oct 18, 2014

pillsUnder Ontario law, certain actions, called “controlled acts,” may only be performed by qualified health professionals, such as nurses, physical therapists or doctors. These include such diverse activities as diagnosing diseases, setting fractured bones, prescribing drugs, and dental work. Each medical professional is authorized to perform the acts of their profession, but not those of other professions. You wouldn’t want a cardiac surgeon to perform a root canal, or a dentist to operate on your heart.

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Topics: Family caregivers

Why You Should Have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care

Posted by Steve Jones

Sat, Oct 11, 2014

form_signingOne of the questions we are frequently asked is, "Do I need a Power of Attorney for Personal Care? And why?" Our answer is a resounding "Yes," and there are lots of reasons for it. First, let's look at what it is.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives another person (called a substitute decision maker or attorney) the right to make decisions for you in the event you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. In Canada, an attorney is not usually a lawyer, just the person whom you designated to make decisions for you. In Ontario there are three kinds of Power of Attorney:

  • General Power of Attorney for Property
  • Continuing Power of Attorney for Property
  • Power of Attorney for Personal Care (PAPC)

Powers of Attorney for Property allow your attorney to make decisions regarding finances and personal property. A Power of Attorney for Personal Care allows your attorney to make decisions about medical treatment, as well as non-medical issues such as housing, diet, and personal assistance.

What benefits you get from having a PAPC:

  • You choose your substitute decision maker, not your family, your doctor, or the courts. This person is required to make decisions for you based on what is in your best interest. You can also choose multiple individuals or a succession of people if your first choice is unable or unwilling to be your attorney.

  • You can state your wishes for certain situations, for instance: what medical treatments you wish to have or reject, such as life support or resuscitation; that you wish to remain in your house for as long as possible, rather than going into a long-term care facility, that you prefer to die at home rather than in a hospital.
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Topics: Family caregivers, Healthcare system

The Weekend Effect: Getting Better Care in the Hospital

Posted by Steve Jones

Sat, Oct 4, 2014

hospital_in_bedPeople get sick 24 hours a day – in the middle of the night, on weekends, and (gasp) even on holidays. Hospitals are open 24/7/365, but are typically staffed with perhaps only a third as many doctors on weekends as they would have on any weekday. Doctors may be “on-call,” supposedly waiting at home with phone in hand, but it can still take 30 minutes or more for a specialist to get to the hospital and be ready to see a critically ill or injured patient.

Nurses are usually staffed at close to weekday levels, but physiotherapists, dieticians and other health professionals who aren’t MDs, but are just as critical to the health, comfort, and sometimes even the survival of patients get weekends and nights off. It’s commonly cited as a trade-off for the fact they don’t make as much as doctors.

Go into any hospital at 2:00 a.m. and it will seem absolutely deserted. It’s true that most patients already in the hospital will be sleeping, requiring, for the most part, less intensive care; but what happens to the patient who arrives at 1:00 a.m. after a heart attack, and seems to be stabilized, so the doctor goes home, deciding not to perform angioplasty in the middle of the night, even though it’s critical to open clogged arteries within 90 minutes of a heart attack. If the patient suffers another attack an hour later, death is much more likely than if they had received angioplasty.

The Weekend Effect

Since 2001, when a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the increased risk of death on nights and weekends has become known as the “weekend effect.” For most health conditions, the relative increase in deaths is small but statistically meaningful. If it’s your loved one in the hospital who is at increased risk, that statistically small number is even more meaningful.

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Topics: Family caregivers, Healthcare system

16 Tips for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia Caregivers

Posted by Steve Jones

Tue, Sep 30, 2014

comforting-hands-smallWhen you're a family caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, you're constantly needing to find new ways to manage care. What worked yesterday doesn't work today, and what didn't work last month might work now. The progressive nature of the disease never lets you rest knowing that you've implemented the best practices in dementia care. Best practices are a moving target, based on your loved one's capabilities at any given time.

Some of these tips are exerpts from our eBook "Living Well with Alzheimer's Disease." Most of them are designed for early to middle stage dementia. Later stages may need a more complex set of tools.

  1. Encourage your loved one to do as much as he can for himself, for as long as he can. This will help him feel good about himself and maintain his dignity and confidence.

  2. Put yourself in her place, literally: have someone give you instructions for an ordinary task in a language you don’t know; you’ll have to tune in to non-verbal cues to understand what they want you to do. Have someone spoon-feed you or brush your teeth for you. These are all routine experiences for a loved one with AD, but most of us have no idea what it feels like.
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Topics: Family caregivers, Alzheimer's/Dementia