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Originally published @ allaboutestates.ca

This weekend we celebrated the first nights of Passover and Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Two major holidays that coincided, along with a statutory holiday enjoyed.

For me and perhaps for many of you, these holy days have a traditional familial connection rather than a religious one. The foods eaten, or perhaps the foods not eaten, while symbolic of a religious theme, also provide a cultural comfort and familial custom. It is this connection and the lifelong memories associated with these annual holiday celebrations, which I believe remain with us. For me, it is the family gathering, the specialty foods and singing of songs that stay. I think for many with memory decline, this holds true as well. For those who lost a loved one, an empty seat at the holiday table can be particularly difficult. For the many families that are in conflict with one another and may not be talking, this too can prove challenging.

Every year I take comfort in making my late grandmother’s friend turkey recipe, which is one of my family’s favorite meals. This is a recipe handed down to my mother and then to me, which one day I hope my sons will be making. However you celebrated and whatever foods you enjoyed, I hope you too had a special holiday long weekend.

The post Spring Holidays and Family Get Togethers. appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Originally posted @allaboutestates.ca

As Carol King so aptly wrote in 1971 “when you are down and troubled and need a helping hand…( sing along here as I am sure you know the lyrics)…you’ve got a friend, …ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend”? Everybody needs a friend, regardless of age and seniors in particular often find themselves lonely and isolated. Being alone is different than being lonely. Loneliness is defined as “sadness because one has no friends or company[1]” We may all have felt lonely from time to time but for many, this becomes their constant state.

Statistics Canada reported[2] 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely. Psychologist Ami Rokach states that loneliness has become a public health crisis and related health effects are at epidemic levels[3]. Dr. Rokach states that “loneliness itself doesn’t directly cause health problems …[but] that depression, desperation, feeling unappreciated and unwanted can cause seniors to neglect their health”.

Reports[4] indicate that approximately one in five people experience loneliness and this reference is not limited to just seniors. The United Kingdom recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address social isolation and several Canadian think that this might be needed here as well. The UK task is to develop policies to what has been described as “the sad reality of modern life”. There is a difference between an older person who outlives family and friends and finds themselves both alone and lonely as compared to young people who are technologically wired and interact with an avatar rather than with peers face to face. Both can be lonely. However there are some actions that we can take to address this disconnect. Are you thinking about grabbing something for lunch today and eating at your desk? Maybe invite someone to join you……

Thought for the day: We may not need a Best Friend Forever but we all do need a Friend.

[1] Oxford Dictionary

[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/national-seniors-council/programs/publications-reports/2014/social-isolation-seniors/page05.html

[3] http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-september-20-2016-1.3770103/loneliness-in-canadian-seniors-an-epidemic-says-psychologist-1.3770208

[4] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/seniors-expert-applauds-u-k-move-to-appoint-ministry-of-loneliness-1.4494466

The post Do You Have A BFF? appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Originally posted @allaboutestates.ca

Last week I had the  pleasure of presenting to a group of caregivers from the Alzheimers Society Kingston Frontenac & Addington chapter.  One thing that everyone in the group had in common was that they were all loving someone who had a diagnosis of dementia.  Just to refresh terminology, “dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.”[1] So for those in the group regardless of the type of dementia their family member was diagnosed with, they were there to gain practical and useful information.  I spoke to them about the importance of planning ahead, including communication with family members, the need to have key documents  prepared (POA’s, Advanced Directives) and the costs and options related to transitioning from home to retirement to Long Term Care.

My co presenter was Ron Beleno [2] who, along with his mother, had been a caregiver to his father  for over 10 years. Ron’s dad had dementia. Ron is proud to have creative nerdy qualities and skills to be innovative in hacking away at solutions around dementia and caregiving. Over the years, as the challenges increased, Ron was able to configure his dad’s home environment with technological aids so that he could observe and/or keep in touch with him from afar so that his dad was able to live out his last days at home.  Ron set up a computer monitor facing the front door of his parent’s apartment and through remote technology was able to keep a visual on his dad, when his mother was not home. He knew the signs and general timing of when his father would be most likely to wander out the door and would talk to him, redirecting him to another activity. Ron also used GPS alerts and was able to know where his father was at all times.

Ron shared tips and encouragement to his fellow carers including sharing the caring , choosing words such as replacing ‘problems’  with ‘challenges’ , taking one day at a time

and the importance of involving the community at large. We had a great session and there is always something to learn whether you are the presenter or an attendee.

Lesson Learnt:  The caregiving journey to someone with dementia can be lengthy; planning ahead and reaching out for support along the way can help to improve the lives of both the carer and the care recipient.

The post Supporting Caregivers, One Day At A Time appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Originally posted @allaboutestates.ca

While employed family caregivers (over age 60) in Hawaii are now eligible to receive a $70 per day stipend to pay for additional care support for  a family member, we have something different.

As of December 3, 2017  there was a new EI Family Caregiver Benefit which provides for “eligible caregivers to receive up to 15 weeks of financial assistance to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured adult”.  Eligible caregivers depending on their wages could earn up to $574 a week and the 15 weeks of benefit may be shared by eligible caregivers over the 52 week period either at the same time or one after another.

Care is defined as “participating in the care of” and  Support is defined as “providing psychological or emotional support”.

There is a broad definition of family which includes “immediate family as well as other relatives and individuals considered to be like family, whether or related by marriage, common-law partnership or any legal parent-child relationship.”

The definition of critically ill or injured adult is defined as “anyone 18 or over whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury. They must also need the care or support of at least one caregiver.

If the person is already living with a chronic medical condition, caregivers are not eligible for the Benefit unless the person’s health changes significantly because of a new and acute life-threatening event.”  A medical certificate must be completed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.

The terms seem to me to be broad and open to interpretation.  I would think that an older person who gets the flu or pneumonia meets the requisite criteria and family who  stay with them to provide care and support would qualify for a paid leave of absence. I can only hope that the government approval process will be relatively uncomplicated and in keeping with the spirit of the legislation.

Should the person’s situation further deteriorate, the Compassionate Care Benefit is also available, providing up to an additional 26 weeks of employment insurance benefits.

I continue to applaud employers who support their caregiving employees and while not all employers are like Microsoft, who  this summer announced they are providing their caregiving employees with a 4 week paid leave of absence, this  federal announcement is  welcome news.

The post A New Caregiving Benefit appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Originally posted @allaboutestates.ca

After 70 years of marriage Norman and Mae are told by our government that in order to get the care they need, they need to live separately. Certainly there is something not right about this statement, yet as hard as it is to believe, that was the story reported in the National Post on Jan 6, 2017.

At age 94 and 91, Norman and Mae have enjoyed what can be considered a long life and an even longer marriage. The article indicates that they have always lived together- no easy feat at any time. I sincerely doubt they ever anticipated having to live separately in order for them both to receive publicly funded care in a Long Term Care facility.

As we age we may not always have the same health care needs as our partners. A couple’s different care needs may be able to be met in the community if finances permit either at home or in a retirement setting. However when care needs exceed what can be met in the community, many look to Long Term Care facilities, our publicly funded ‘nursing’ homes.

Norman and Mae had both applied for Long Term Care. The process for those who may not be familiar requires an assessment and a finding of eligibility by the Community Care Access coordinator. Once deemed eligible, one can choose up to five residences. From here, the choices can be for a ward room rate, semi shared rate or a private room. Regardless of where one lives in the Province, the application process and associated fees are the same.
Accommodation costs are set by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and are standard across Ontario. The current rates (maximum) are:

Type of accommodation Daily rate Monthly rate
Long-stay Basic $58.35 $1,774.81
Long-stay Semi-private $70.35 (Basic plus a maximum of $12.00) $2,139.81
Long-stay Private $83.35 (Basic plus a maximum of $25.00) $2,535.23
Short-stay $37.77

The Ontario Long Term Care Association provides the following information based on 2015 data*:
• 627 homes are homes licensed and approved to operate in Ontario
• 57% of homes are privately owned, 24% are non-profit/charitable, 17% are municipal
• More than 40% of long-term care homes are small, with 96 or fewer beds
• Of these small homes, about 43% are located in rural communities that often have limited home care or retirement home option
• 76,982 long-stay beds are allocated to provide care, accommodation and services to frail seniors who require permanent placement
• 708 convalescent care beds are allocated to provide short-term care as a bridge between hospitalization and a patient’s home
• 362 beds are allocated to provide respite to families who need a break from caring 24/7 for their loved one
• Approximately 300 of the provinces long-term care homes are older and need to be redeveloped (more than 30,000 beds)
• The average time to placement in long-term care, as of December 2015, was 103 days
• The wait list for long-stay beds, as of December 2015, was 26,495

So what happened? According to the story, Mae was offered a bed at her preferred setting. By the way, one typically has 24-48 hours to make a decision as to whether to accept the placement or not. If she accepted the bed, Norman would be on his own, which the family felt was not manageable. She passed on the placement bed so she could remain with her husband. Only a few short weeks later, Norman was offered a spot at the same facility where Mae had declined the bed offer. However due to Ministry policy her name had been removed from all of the waiting lists and she now has to wait 3 months before she can even reapply. There was no mention how long the initial waiting period had been. Many of the ‘preferred’ homes have wait lists of several years.
Yes, there is a spousal reunification policy established by the MOHLTC and implemented by the CCAC, however we can only hope that Mae and Norman survive long enough to finish telling their story.

* Sources: Long-Term Care Utilization Report, December 2015, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; Ontario Long Term Care Association, internal database, 2015.

The post Until Death Do Us Part- or until we need provincially funded care in a LTC appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Originally published @agecomfort.com on October 16, 2017

The family caregiver plays a key role in supporting the very fabric of Canadian society. The most recent Census data tells us that 28% of all Canadians provide unpaid care to a family member or friend. If you are reading this article, chances are you are or know someone close to you who is a family carer.

Today there are more seniors over age 65 than children under age 14. Not only are we living longer, but adults over 100 years of age are also the fastest growing age group. Today’s life expectancy is 80 years for men and 84 years for women. Women are living longer and many find themselves widowed after looking after their partner. Continue reading: The Role Played by the Family Caregiver

The post The Role Played by the Family Caregiver appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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The family caregiver plays a key role in supporting the very fabric of Canadian society. The most recent Census data tells us that 28% of all Canadians provide unpaid care to a family member or friend. If you are reading this article, chances are you are or know someone close to you who is a family carer.

Today there are more seniors over age 65 than children under age 14. Not only are we living longer, but adults over 100 years of age are also the fastest growing age group. Today’s life expectancy is 80 years for men and 84 years for women. Women are living longer and many find themselves widowed after looking after their partner.  Read The Role Played by the Family Caregiver

AgeComfort.com October 16, 2017

The post The Role Played by the Family Caregiver appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Labour Day signifies back to school and for many parents, having their children return to school is a great relief. However for many of those ‘sandwiched’ between working full time and providing caregiving assistance to older family members, a return to school may mean less time for themselves. Helping with homework, driving to afterschool activities, getting lunches made and dinner on the table makes me appreciate how many roles and responsibilities that we all juggle.

I reread an earlier blog that I wrote in September 2014 that concludes with a quote from Sherri Torjman from the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. In her essay titled They’re informal, but these workers are essential, she writes: “On Labour Day, we need to pay attention to this huge group of essential workers: the millions of informal caregivers who show up nowhere in the employment numbers, but figure so prominently in real life.”

The Conference Board of Canada last month released their paper titled: The Juggling Act. Balancing Work and Eldercare in Canada. They summarized that the “total spending on continuing care supports for seniors was $28.2 billion in 2011. Of this amount, $10.2 billion was estimated to have been paid by individuals out of pocket or through private insurance. Clearly, unpaid caregivers are shouldering a large part of the cost of eldercare.” They reviewed that the types of care provided by employed Canadians included emotional support (checking in); assistance with health and daily living- (such as shopping, going to appointments) and case management (scheduling and organizing appointments). (Reference: Duxbury and Higgins, Balancing Work, Childcare, and Eldercare.)

The Conference Board estimate that eldercare obligations cost business $1.28 billion per year. They reviewed that direct costs include:
– training new personnel to replace those that leave because of caregiving responsibilities
-Wages paid to absent workers
-Overtime pay and wages for temporary replacement workers
-Additional health care claims and benefit costs related to stress and short term and long term disability leave and that the Indirect Costs included reduced performance and loss of knowledge (from both an institutional, procedural perspective).

Their paper looked at the cost to business, let’s not forget however the emotional and financial cost and toll it takes on the employees themselves and of course, their families. 35% of employed Canadians are caregivers.

It seems to me that it would make good sense for companies to support their caregiving employees. There are a number of different ways for organizations to offer this support, ranging from a paid leave of absence which perhaps is the most expensive option, to offering a flexible work schedule and work from home option that would presumably be less expensive.

Sadly, the Conference Board survey found that formal elder care programs were uncommon among Canadian organizations. However, south of the Border, according to a 2016 study by AARP and ReACT, “for every dollar invested in flexible work arrangements, businesses can expect a return ranging from $1.70 to $4.34. Telecommuting, meanwhile, delivers a return of between $2.46 and $4.45 for each dollar invested.” (Reference: AARP and ReACT. “Determining the Return on Investment: Supportive Policies for Employee Caregivers.” (2016).

There are many other options such as ensuring that Employee Assistance Providers include an elder care component that can either offer resource identification or 1:1 counselling which might also be covered through extended health care benefits (ie social work services are frequently covered by insurance plans). Lunch and learn and other educational programs are also a great resource and can help support employees by providing important and helpful information before they reach a complete burnout requiring a formal leave.

We are an aging society and we need to continue to talk and find ways to support one another as our caregiving journey continues. Our government clearly cannot do it alone and we need business to be part of the dialogue. Question for the day, is your company part of the solution?

The post The Balancing Act Continues appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Originally posted @ allaboutestate.ca

With Labour Day fast approaching I thought it would be fitting to highlight the role that young caregivers have in providing care to another person.

Since the creation of Lucky, The Young Carer Rap,

which was a partnership with the Vanier Institute of the Family based on research conducted by Dr. Grant Charles, the numbers of young carers has grown.  At that time 12% of young people surveyed in Vancouver high schools were in a primary caregiving role.  The care recipient was a parent, grandparent, sibling or other relative.  Their responsibilities could include practical, personal and emotional caregiving tasks as well as a wider range of household task such as shopping, laundry and cooking. Some are also providing hands on assistance with activities of daily living.

The purpose of Lucky, The Young Carer video was to raise awareness and raise awareness we did!  Action Canada completed a Task Force Report and identified a number of steps to improve conditions for Young Carers across the country, including: increased awareness, improved data collection and research and a multi-sector effort to support Young Cares in their communities.

Statistics Canada in 2014 provided data on Young Carers and found that  one in four young Canadians were providing care to a family member or friend and were typically spending three hours a week in this role. However 5% were spending more than 30 hours per week caring for others. Mostly these young people were looking after their grandparents (40%), parents (27%), friends and neighbours (14%) and siblings or extended family members (11%). {Data from “It’s Time to Care for Our (Young) Carers” by Andrea Breen for the Vanier Institute}.

More recently The Change Foundation  identified that within Ontario, 17% of Ontario Caregivers are youth. Again these are young people between the ages of 15 and 24. However there are many young carers who are under 15 and some are still in elementary school. In August 2016, a number of these young people share their stories in some  wonderful videos.

While Labour Day typically signifies the end of summer vacation and a return to school, please remember that for many young carers, their caregiving responsibilities did not take the summer off.  Recognizing and becoming more aware of what these young people do, is the first step in supporting them.

If you would like more information, please contact:

The Young Carers Initiative  and the Young Carers Project 

The post Young Carers and Back To School appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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Reposted from allaboutestates.ca

This original post was from a few years ago. It does seem like only yesterday because, while time has not stood still, sometimes our sentiments don’t change. The event and message is the same. It is a few years later and there is a new US golf champion. We still however miss those who are no longer around.

It was hard not to know that yesterday was Father’s Day. Signs, announcements and broadcasters made it very difficult not to acknowledge the day. Is it not odd that we need to be reminded by those organizations that typically want us to purchase something? Well maybe we do need to be reminded to spend a moment either with our fathers, if we still have one or to spend some time thinking about our fathers, for the rest of us. My father has been dead for almost 18 years and he died way too young from a ugly disease. Days do go by when I have not thought about him.The other day, I was out for lunch with a colleague and I bumped into a family friend from childhood who I had not seen for years. After briefly catching up, he was quick to remind me how close he was to my father and the impact he had made on his life. Years had passed since I had remembered the positive impact he had on others and on my friends who considered him a father figure as well. My father had an early death and there was much left undone and unsaid.

In my work with families dealing with their parents, I see those who may be flesh and blood but don’t like each other and who do not get along. In other families I am so touched by the care and respect that is shown and expressed. There is however a lot of grey in the middle. Perhaps the commercial reminder of Father’s Day can be the poke we need to reconnect and reaffirm with our own fathers so that we will not feel that there was much left undone or unsaid. Bumping into this old friend and being reminded of my father’s joie de vivre, brought a smile to my face.
Happy Father’s Day.

The post Yesterday I watched the US Open & Thought About My Dad: Father’s Day- Take 2 appeared first on Elder Caring Inc..

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