Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dementia - Finding Your Way Program

The statistics are staggering - more and more people every year are diagnosed with dementia.Ontario is projecting that in 6 years that number  of people in the province with this issue will be in the range of 250,000. Given our aging population, I suppose a rise in dementia as that senior cohort gets older is not too surprising.  For those witnessing the cognitive decline of someone they love, it is extremely difficult to come to terms with losing the person you know, while still seeing them as physically present. We are fortunate that there are organizations we can turn to for information and emotional support. In Ontario, our Alzheimer's Society has partnered with our provincial government to expand something called the 'Finding Your Way' Program in multiple languages to accommodate our ever increasing multicultural population.

According to a recent news release "The program will help prevent people with dementia from “wandering” and going missing, and help caregivers and other family members prepare for such incidents, if they occur... The Finding Your Way (TM) safety kit contains tools and resources to help ensure the safety of the person with dementia without depriving them of their independence or dignity, and information to help families create personalized safety plans. The kit includes:
* An identification kit with space for a recent photo and physical description that can be shared with police in an emergency
* At-home safety steps to help prevent missing incidents from occurring
* Steps to safeguard a person with dementia, such as using the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s MedicAlert® Safely Home® program
* Tips on what to do when a person with dementia goes missing and when reuniting after a wandering incident
* The latest information on locating devices". (Quoted from: www.alzheimer.ca/on/~/media/Files/on/Finding-your-way/FINAL_FYW%20Phase%202%20News%20Release_Jan28.ashx)

For further information on this program you can go to www.FindingYourWayOntario.ca

For more information on Alzheimer's Disease see the article Common Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Comparing Housing Options for Seniors

I have done many lectures for groups of seniors and their families over the years. What I find interesting is that more often than not, the piece of information most know little about, is the difference between each level of care and how you determine the kind of place you may need to go to when the time is right. I think that most people assume that there are 'seniors homes' where seniors can go. Until you are in a situation of having to make a decision, what that means and where you actually can go, is not the sort of information you seek out. Unfortunately, it is something people should learn about before the need for it creeps up on them. Knowing the difference and when to start looking might very well impact quality of life and choices available. The sooner you become aware of options, the better. Needing little or no care affords you far more choice and, in some cases, may prevent or delay the need for long-term care.
So, for those of you that might need some info on different levels of seniors care and accommodation here is a quick overview.
Independent Seniors' Apartments - these are usually private apartments with no care but potentially with rent geared to income. Some might have a visiting doctor or social type programs but essentially they are for the well and independent who does not need any significant care.
There are now some Senior Condominiums which are for purchase units but usually if they are billed as 'Seniors' settings then there is either some care or housekeeping available and often dining facilities on site. Again though, one would have to be fairly independent in this type of a setting. Life Lease/Equity Units are a variation on a Seniors' Condo because you purchase a the right to live in the unit, not the unit itself.
Retirement Residences - are usually privately owned and operated. Some provinces do have regulation/legislation - most recently Ontario has added this dimension to retirement living. While most residents go in when they are fairly independent, there is usually the option of adding care as needed for a price and often meals on site. Costs vary depending on many factors. Some homes add the option or indicate that they provide "Assisted Living' which may simply mean that the 'care portion' is included or available. More and more homes do have the capacity for significant care or even managing people with dementia. 
Long Term Care /Nursing Homes - are for those requiring significant care but are medically stable. The government of each province sets the rates so all homes in this category charge the same. As well, they usually manage applications and waiting lists. All meals are included as well as care. In most provinces the resident is responsible for room and board costs and incidentals they may require. 
Complex Care - this is for the medically unstable person or one with very complex issues. These places are more like a hospital-like setting and doctors and nurses are on staff all the time. 
Palliative Care - usually this is for people that have a prognosis of 3 months or less. Comfort care only is provided. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Relocation and Visiting Tips

If after considerable thought and effort to keep a senior in their home, you come to the conclusion that relocation is the best option, there are several things you can do to assist. First of all, the decision should be as co-operative a process as possible. The senior should be involved in the decision making as much as possible and before starting your search discuss financial concerns and limitations.Figure out what area they would like to live in and if possible ensure that it is somewhere that friends or family can get to easily. Make a list of things they want to have in their new home and neighbourhood keeping in mind that you will need to know things that are 'deal breakers' and things they can live without. Make up a list of questions (as a reference you can certainly download our 'visiting tips' from our website). Take a new questionnaire to each home. You may want to narrow down your search to 3 places that meet your/their needs and then take them on tours. Ensure you try the food and if possible speak to residents. If they will allow, take photos of each home to assist you when you are trying to decide. Also make notes during each visit. To assist with decision making, you may want to make a list of the pros and cons of each home and then perhaps suggest a trial stay for a few days or a week so they can get a feel for the place before selling or renting their current home.