As they age, many people try to stay in their own homes as long as possible. This can put added stress on family caregivers as the health and independence of their aging family member declines. Many products and services in the community exist to help support seniors aging in place, and can aid in reducing the impact on the family caregivers.
The types of services will vary dependent on the community and the costs will range from free to a fee-for-service. Below is a list of some of these services:
Home support (community health workers)
Provide assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, hygiene and toileting. Subsidized home support is available through your local health authority and is based on the income of the care recipient. Private home support agencies also provide these services on a fee-for-service basis. Some families have found that hiring live-in help has worked well for them and there are businesses that can assist with this including some that provide eldercare nannies.
Medical Equipment and Aids
A variety of aids and equipment are available for purchase or loan to help individuals with communication, mobility or specific personal care needs. These include medical equipment, incontinence supplies, specialized clothing, mobility aids, vision aids and hospital beds. Community loan cupboards may exist from which you can borrow medical equipment. Several businesses focus solely on selling medical aids and equipment.
Occupational and Physiotherapists
Rehabilitation professionals are available through the Home and Community Care department of your local health authority. These individuals can do a home safety assessment to ensure that the home is safe and supports optimal functional independence.
Another step toward ensuring safe independence at home is to have the house adapted to be more accessible as mobility and health changes. The Home Adaptations for Seniors' Independence (HASI) program through CMHC "offers financial assistance for minor home adaptations that will help low-income seniors to perform daily activities in their home independently and safely."
Emergency response and medical alert systems
These are 24-hour-a-day monitoring services that connect to a live person in the case of a fall or other emergency. Some systems also provide automatic medication reminders.
Provide home visitors, walking companions, and volunteers to assist with odd jobs, reading, letter writing and driving to appointments or shopping. Some agencies also provide reassurance calls to check-in with your family member each day to ensure they are okay.
House cleaning services
This is a useful resource for family caregivers and some will provide additional services, including laundry, moving furniture, taking out garbage and doing garden work. Private home support agencies often offer housekeeping services.
Other support services may be available in your community to provide help in the home and improve the quality of life for both the family caregiver and the care recipient. For resources in your local community, check the yellow pages, contact the Home and Community Care division of the health authority, visit a seniors' centre or look under "Resources" on the Family Caregivers' Network's website at www.familycaregiversnetwork.org
Next month: The Importance of Asking for Help
AUGUST 2011 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
AUGUST 2011 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND