When the time comes that you can’t properly take care of yourself, know your options and be prepared. Catholic Register file photo

Make plans for when you can’t take care of yourself

By  Kristen Curtis, The Catholic Register
  • November 7, 2015

As people age, their needs change and often they have a harder time taking care of themselves. This makes it important to plan for when you are no longer able to care for yourself.

When this time comes, there are several options depending on one’s finances and personal preferences. Ideally, most people would wish to remain living at home, with assistance from friends, family members or an organization like Saint Elizabeth Health Care to provide home care as needed.

Madonna Gallo, corporate communications manager for Saint Elizabeth Health Care, said “home care gives the assistance and support for people to be able to live in the same home and community with safety, care and comfort.”

For those who can no longer live alone, an option is assisted living in which a senior lives in a facility, but has much independence, including their own room or apartment. Depending on the facility, you can choose to make your own meals or take advantage of an onsite dining room. You may also choose to have some assistance with tasks such as cleaning and laundry services, and administering medication.

The next level of care would be a nursing home. Generally, this includes a higher level of care from staff, including registered nurses. With 288 beds, Providence Healthcare in Toronto offers such long-term care options.

Gaining admission to a long-term care facility can be a time-consuming process. Most have waiting lists. In order to apply, one must contact the Community Care Access Centre that serves the area where you live. In Ontario, these centres initiate applications, determine eligibility for long-term care, co-ordinate applications to selected homes and manage the wait list.

No matter which option best suits your lifestyle, there are finances to consider. A Saint Elizabeth Home Care Survey released earlier this year shows that more than eight in 10 Canadians have not made any financial plans for future home care needs.

Family members play an important role in the planning process. According to the Saint Elizabeth Home Care survey, “most Canadians are at least somewhat comfortable discussing future home care needs with their families, yet six in 10 Canadians have not discussed home care with anyone.”

Gallo said “family members play a key role in this process in whatever form or arrangements family comes in. Family members can play a very direct role through family events, getting groceries or taking them (the family member) to medical appointments.”

The experts from Providence Health Care also agree that family members play a key role and offer advice as to how family members can help. They recommend the family be involved with estate planning and have discussions about long-term care plans.

“Family members can access supports not only for their elderly family members, but also for themselves. It’s also important to be up to date with their family member’s health care team, current medical and personal care needs, abilities and interests. It’s also helpful to have a current list of medications and supplements your loved one is taking. Finally, it’s crucial that families take care of themselves and recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and being overwhelmed, which can affect those who are caring for an individual.”

The services provided by Saint Elizabeth Home Care are available Canada-wide, but the pricing varies. According to its web site, private insurance plans can help offset Saint Elizabeth Health Care’s costs, but recommends speaking to your doctor or local health authority to determine what is covered by the provincial or territorial health care plan as well. It also encourages any seniors or their family members within Canada to call its toll-free phone number to inquire about care options (1-855-ASKELIZ or 1-855-275-3549).

Providence Healthcare provides an array of services including long-term care housing, a geriatric medical clinic, day programs for people with dementia and community outreach. Many of its programs, such as the Adult Day Program for people with dementia, are funded by the Ministry of Health which allows for subsidized rates. Providence Healthcare also provides an annual tax receipt so families can claim this as an expense.

It is important to consider your options. Speak to your health care professionals and family members about what makes most sense for you.

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