How do you know when it's really time to go
By Wendy Johnstone - Comox Valley Record, July 22, 2010 6:00 PM
Most of us, regardless of age, want to stay in our own homes for as long as possible.
Family homes often hold decades of memories, stories and special moments. For some seniors, their home becomes their symbol of continuity and their ability to remain independent.
Some aging loved ones are often very fearful when the time comes where staying in one's home becomes too challenging, unsafe or no longer promotes quality of living.
Most of this fear, I believe, is related to the general confusion regarding housing options for seniors. In fact, the majority of people I speak with remain under the impression that residential care is the only option for seniors.
However, according to Statistics Canada, only five per cent of seniors over 65 years old live in residential care facilities.
Simple math points out that 95 per cent of people over 65 are living in their homes or move to a supportive housing environment designed for seniors.
Ask yourself the following question:
At what point in your life would you consider moving from your home?
If you can relate to the following statements, a move to a more supportive setting might be the right choice:
- I sometimes feel lonely or I live too far from town and no longer drive or feel comfortable driving under certain conditions.
- I worry about falling and not being found.
- I am not eating as well as I should be due to an inability to shop and prepare meals.
- I have trouble remembering to take my pills, or worry I have taken too many.
- Things like housekeeping, laundry, gardening are challenging and I have little energy left to enjoy life.
- My house is too big and I want to downsize.
- My home is difficult to move around in due to stairs, bathroom set-up, etc.
- I need regular assistance for activities such as bathing or dressing.
- I don't have family nearby to help with my future care.
Before you pack your boxes, be sure to explore what our public system offers through home support, adult day programs and outreach programs offered by non-profit and for-profit agencies. There are plenty of services that help seniors with household management, transportation, meals, housekeeping, personal care, outings and companionship. Sometimes seniors need a small amount of support to stay happy, independent and safe in their own homes.
If moving is what you want, what do you want for a new home?
Do you want to be around people your own age? Are you tired of cooking and want your meals prepared? Are you moving to feel safe and secure in the case of an emergency? Do you want to be walking distance to the bus, shopping or your family and friends? Do you want to be closer to your family?
Don't be like 75 per cent of the aging population, who don't think about future housing options.
Make it your move — by choice, not from crisis.
Staying healthy as a family caregiver TOP
Vancouver Sun, North Shore News April 18, 2010
One in three Canadians between the ages of 45 and 60 are assisting aging relatives, and another third are expected to do so in the future, according to Statistics Canada.
Caring for parents or other family members can be a positive experience but it can also be one of the most stressful endeavors of our lives. In order to manage this journey it is important to use community and health resources, according to a media release from the North Shore Caregiver Support Program.
Ruth Payne, a 60-year-old arts worker in West Vancouver, knows first hand the stresses of caregiving. As a long-distance caregiver for her 94-year-old parents who are living in 100 Mile House, she struggled to manage their day-to-day care from a distance.
"My parents were healthy and independent until they started having a series of health issues," says Payne, who has two grown daughters herself. "Caring for my parents is more than a one-person job. I wasn't prepared for it; there is no training for this role. To top it off, my parents resisted help."
"My parents had always been very independent, capable and feisty. They are of the old school of not hiring people to assist them or even asking for help," she says.
Spending holidays and long weekends travelling to 100 Mile House to provide hands-on care and household management, Payne had concerns about what could happen to her frail parents living at risk. "Knowing your parents do not have anyone with them when you can see the obvious need sets you up to worry about them constantly. It then becomes an effort to focus on your job, your own needs, and your other relationships."
Care for the caregiver
"Caregiving involves an enormous investment of energy," says Payne. "But it is a delicate balance. It is very easy to not be mindful of how much energy you are putting out. Suddenly you are out of gas and you are running on fumes."
With no idea where to begin or even to know what services were available, Payne contacted Cindy Bouvet at the North Shore Caregiver Support Program. Bouvet was able to provide Payne with a list of services to access.
"Caregivers often wait too long before seeking assistance," says Bouvet. Caregiver burnout is a very serious consequence of long-term caregiving. It is extremely important that caregivers make use of available resources and take respite in order to recharge their batteries. After much encouragement and a further decline in health, Payne's parents accepted help in their home. "Interior Health Home Support workers took much of the load off of my shoulders, said Payne. "I found resources that supported me as a caregiver. I now have gone from juggling too many roles to a healthy balance in my life. Recently my parents moved to a care centre, and my caregiving duties are lighter, but they still continue. Now my caregiving involves communication with the care centre staff regarding meals and medications, medical emergencies, finances, and a whole new array of daily issues."
Rewards of caregiving
As with many caregivers, Payne also experienced joys in caregiving. At a time when her parents were limited in mobility and mostly confined to their home, she developed a more intimate relationship with them. "Being there for our elders must be a priority in our culture. We owe them for having raised us. With some support from government, local health resources, family and the workplace, caregiving can be so rewarding," says Payne. Her friends and colleagues are now turning to her for support in their own caregiver's journey.
Resources for caregivers
Research shows that when caregivers utilize professional resources they cope better with caregiving, according to Bouvet. The North Shore Caregiver Support Program provides a wide variety of resources, education, and group support for family caregivers. Family caregivers are anyone caring for a family member or friend with a chronic illness or disability living at home or in care.
Reduce Your Stress
In collaboration with the North Shore Caregiver Support Program, the Supporting Caregivers Project will be offering a seven-session course called Exploring Your Creative Self, at the Ferry Building Gallery in West Vancouver. This course starts Monday, April 19, 7-9 p.m. This will be a hands-on creative experience for family caregivers to have fun, reduce stress, maintain a positive perspective and attain more balance in your life. In this course participants will explore different expressive arts mediums. The first two sessions will be facilitated by Ruth Payne. During the first session caregivers will create their own vision boards. On April 22, Payne will facilitate a session on journaling. The other sessions include music improvisation, drumming, Latin dance, theatre community and art. The course is free but registration is required.
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