There was a time where the advancement of age meant a drastic life change for seniors. Those who were facing their twilight years had little choice in how and where they were going to live. The traditional options available to this group were limited and for the most part, required the elderly to give up life in their homes and move in to a long-term care or nursing home facility. Despite their desires to the contrary, more practical reasons for moving gave seniors little choice. Lack of community supports, limited access to health and medical care and the need for day-to-day assistance with food preparation, grocery shopping, bathing and chores made the idea of staying at home unfeasible.
Fortunately times have changed and with the senior population in Canada growing yearly, lifestyle options have expanded as well. According to Statistics Canada, the segment of the population aged 65 and older accounted for a record high of 14.8 per cent of the population in Canada in 2011, up from 13.7 per cent five years earlier. These numbers will only increase as Canadian seniors maintain healthier lifestyles allowing them to live longer.
For those who would like to remain in their homes, there are a variety of options of support both free of charge and at a cost. Following are some of the community resources and services that are available to seniors through dedicated caregiving organizations.
Personal Support Worker
A Personal Support Worker’s main role is to provide hands-on care to support their clients’ well-being. Often, PSWs will work with elderly clients by assisting them with their day-to-day needs. These include bathing, preparing meals, assisting with feeding and meal planning, routine housekeeping and routine health-related activities such as changing non-sterile dressings and administering medications (under the supervision of a medical supervisor, nurse or nurse practitioner) where appropriate.
Primary Care Providers and Healthcare Supports
Advanced age is often accompanied by the need for increased medical and health-related support. Many older patients require regular care, through the help of their primary medical team which includes doctors and nurses as well as nurse practitioners. Depending on the nature of their illness or disability, some seniors, such as those who are dealing with the effects of a stroke, also need regular assistance from physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech language therapists. They may also require specific medical supplies and equipment, such as a wheelchair or a walker. Fortunately, there are now options that allow seniors in need to receive the medical care that they require within their own homes. Connecting with the appropriate healthcare provider is an important step towards assembling the right home care team.
Online Healthcare Options
In the age of Google, caregivers and many seniors look to the online world for information and resources. Often, this process can be daunting, with the number of choices that appear during an online search overwhelming for both caregivers and those in need of medical support. The good news is that there are now specific options that can help to guide those requiring care in the right direction. For example, services such as Healthline, which provides a one-stop portal for all medically-related resources and Health Care Connect, which helps those without a family doctor to find one close to their home, have made the process of obtaining care much easier.
Oftentimes, general well-being for seniors includes medical supports as well as social. The Toronto Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) is your gateway to both. Toronto CCAC provides a repository of resources for the elderly as well as practical and hands-on homecare for those in need, allowing seniors to comfortably live their lives at home, with dignity. Through an integrated community model that matches various services with a client’s need, all aspects of home care and community supports are addressed. These range from personal care to health and medical care, and beyond. Sometimes, the requirement for help is focused on combatting lonlieness or an inability to cook for oneself.
Other times, elderly patients are in need of nutritional counsellor, or need to get connected with adult day programs so that they can build and maintain relationships in their communities. By using the resources coordinated through an organization such as CCAC, seniors can experience comfort within their homes, resulting in greater personal happiness and quality of life.
Dipti Purbhoo is the Senior Director of Client Services at the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre. Through its mission of providing “Outstanding Care, Every Person, Every Day,” the organization provides a variety of caregiving, health and medical supports to clients in the Toronto community.