Care options, choosing the best plan for you and the person you care for

Introduction

At some point in your life, you may need to provide support to someone you know.

Over 8 million Canadians currently care for someone they know and this number is expected to increase as a result of Canada’s aging population. You will likely need to support someone you know who has a physical disability, a mental health challenge, a long-term illness or a degenerative disease. Caring for someone else often means juggling personal commitments, work, family time and care responsibilities.

It is never too early to start planning for your role as a caregiver.

You may need to help a parent, child, partner, sibling, friend, neighbour or co-worker. This person will count on your presence and support as they face health and living challenges.

Learn about your options, plan your actions and get ready! Here is what you need to think about.

Learn how to support their health care

  • Understand their health condition and care options. Help the person choose the best care plan to meet their needs by learning as much as you can about their physical and mental health, medical and treatment options and support needs.
  • Provide encouragement. Living with a chronic or long-term condition can be a daily challenge. Help the person you care for eat healthy, be physically active, stay socially connected and follow their treatment plan.
  • Know their care providers. Make a list of all care providers—name, contact information and caring role. Communicate and work with them.
    • Note that there may be multiple health care professionals involved in the person’s care.
    • Don’t forget the personalized services provided by home and community care providers.
  • Manage medications. Make a medication list and review it with a pharmacist to learn about each drug, their side effects and any counter-indications, how to store them and when to take them.
  • Plan for care transitions. Care transitions from home to hospital, to a rehabilitation facility, a nursing home or long-term care home are critical to the person’s recovery and quality of life. Know the discharge plan and care options.
    • Is the person’s home safe? If not, contact home care for an in-home assessment.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Know who to contact and what to do in case of medical emergencies or unplanned events.
  • Stay healthy. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, keep in contact with friends and family, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and make time for activities you enjoy

Learn how to improve their quality of life

  • Explore home and community support options. Home care services may allow a person with special needs to stay home as independently and as long as possible.
    • Consider seniors centres, support groups and programs of disease-specific organizations
    • Consider day programs, meal delivery, transportation services and in-home supports.
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  • Maintain social contacts. Keeping in touch with friends and family and being socially connected can make a difference in how well the individual copes with their health and living challenges.
    • Consider smartphones, computer software (e.g. Skype) and social networking sites
  • Investigate housing options. Start to consider modifications to the existing home, assisted living and long-term care facilities.
    • Is the person’s home safe? If not, contact home care for an in-home assessment.
    • Keep in mind that many housing options have waitlists and only some are publicly funded.
  • Explore financial options. Assess the person’s financial situation, revenues and expenses, to understand how their budget can best meet their needs.

Learn how to maintain your own health and well-being

  • Stay healthy. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, keep in contact with friends and family, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and make time for activities you enjoy.
  • Learn the signs of caregiver stress. Be aware of times when you are feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping, not eating properly or feeling unwell.
  • Ask for help. Reach out to friends, family and support services when you need them.
  • Resources. Get information on federal, provincial and territorial resources for caregivers by visiting the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum, by calling 1 800 O-Canada or TTY 1-800-926-9105, or by contacting your provincial or territorial government.

Caregiving can be a positive experience. Being prepared helps!

Many caregivers find caring for someone to be rewarding and empowering. Positive experiences include a sense of pride for being able to give back, building deeper relationships, discovering new skills and finding increased meaning and purpose in your life.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember, you’re not alone.

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Common Challenges in Senior Care

Mobility Issues

In traditional senior care, restricted mobility puts patients at risk for limited access to healthcare services. Approximately 1 in 5 Canadian seniors suffer from mobility issues, which impacts their quality of life and access to care. 

Loss of partial or full mobility is a common concern among older adults. Early intervention and education around lifestyle changes is important for preventative care and letting the patient know they have control over the outcome. With the current strain on providers, many do not have enough time to educate their patients.

Access To Specialty Care

The highest determinant of satisfaction with specialty care is related to accessibility. Right now only 53% of people aged 55+ can see a specialist at least once in the past year, and 23% of this group had to wait over 6-months for this appointment. 

Patients who receive senior care are less likely to end up in the hospital. However, the rate of doctors specializing in this practice within Canada is not growing at the same rate as demand. As the aging population increases, the healthcare industry will be required to find ways that expand reach with a limited number of providers.

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Staying Connected With Loved Ones

The current method of caring for senior patients does not adequately bridge the gap between them and their loved ones. The loneliness and isolation that results from this disconnect puts seniors at a higher risk of developing heart disease, depression, and other illnesses. The cause of this is most commonly the death of a spouse, lack of contact with family and friends, or lack of accessible transportation. 

Managing Chronic Illnesses

Senior patients currently face barriers to managing chronic illness as a result of costs, confusing processes, and long wait times. Chronic illnesses require regular care and check-ups to be treated effectively. 

As Canada’s population ages, there will be an increasing demand for care on an already strained healthcare system. To ensure all senior Canadians get the care they need, providers will have to find ways to decentralize and provide care to more people.

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Overcoming These Challenges With Remote Patient Management

In the next ten years, 23% (>9.5 million people) of Canada’s population is expected to be in the 65+ age group. Remote patient management will be essential for extending the reach of providers and making sure each patient receives adequate care. 

Virtual patient management allows providers to care for more patients by reducing involvement with each patient. Furthermore, providers can recommend online resources for preventative senior care. Providers can also manage patient wellbeing with online vitals tracking and monitor for changes.

Expanding senior care remotely removes mobility barriers for patients while virtual communication tools reduce the challenges of getting to a clinic. Additionally, educating patients on video calling and messaging as a form of communication further improves their comfort levels with the technology.

Improving Care For Seniors With Modern Healthcare Solutions

Many of the challenges to senior healthcare can be mitigated with remote patient management. When more patients have access to remote patient management solutions, the overall strain on the healthcare system is reduced. By reaching more patients, properly managing chronic illnesses, and preventing social isolation with online solutions, we will see Canadians live their senior years with an enhanced quality of life. 

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CINTAA Elder care shares useful information regarding healthcare on weekly basis. The post is only for information purpose only. Please check with your health care professional before using this information. To keep yourself updated with many other health tips, stay with us. We provide certified caregivers for seniors at home. If you need any help regarding eldercare, please feel free to call us today at 561-963-1915.

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