Caregiving

A Statistics Canada study in 2012 found that 28% of Canadians provide care to family members or friends with a long-term health condition, a disability or problems associated with aging. Caregiving can provide financial benefits by reducing costs of providing care for disabled, aging or sick friends and family members. However, it can also negatively impact on your physical and mental health, and labour participation as well as pressures on personal finances and recreational activities.

Taking Care of Yourself While You're Taking Care of Others

The Statistics Canada General Social Survey found that at some point in their lives 46% of Canadians are providing care, or looking after needs of a family member or friend with long-term health conditions, disability or aging needs. The caregiving responsibilities most often fell to those who are aged 45‐64, and only a slight majority of these caregivers are female (54%). As a caregiver you can have multiple responsibilities such as providing transportation, doing housework, house maintenance and outdoor work, scheduling appoints, managing finances, helping with medical treatments and providing personal care – all while you are working and maybe also caring for children. In fact about one third of caregivers in Canada are also raising children under the age of 18. (Sinha, 2013) It is also important to note that while most reported only providing care to one person, 27% of Canadian caregivers report providing care to two persons, and 15% reported providing care to three or more persons. (Sinha, 2013)

Strategies for Preventing Burnout and Caregiver Fatigue

  • Find your passions and take time to pursue them.
  • Use stress reduction techniques such as yoga or deep breathing. Get a massage.
  • Join a caregiver support group, or stay connected to people who can support you.
  • Get away from caregiving responsibilities now and then.
  • Exercise, get plenty of rest and eat nutritional meals.
  • Spend some quality time getting to know your parent’s life story. It might take the tedium out of the tasks, and help remind you of why you’re helping. Keep a positive spirit and a sense of humour.
  • Delegate. Learn to ask for help at home and work.
  • Slow down: pause for a few seconds before you respond to a stressful situation.
  • Try taking ten-minute breaks to listen to music or simply do nothing.
  • Meditate. Research has proven that practicing mindfulness through meditation improves both mental and physical health because it strengthens the part of the brain that helps you cope with stress and anxiety.
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Don’t be Fooled: Some Common Scams and how to Avoid Them

We all think we are too clever to fall for a scam, but even the best and brightest of us can get caught off guard. Scam artists are professional fraudsters, and they work very hard to find new ways to trick us. The majority of scams still happen through phone and email requests. Here are a few current scams to watch for and some tips on how to avoid getting fooled.

Types of Scams

  • Grandparents Scam – someone calls a senior on behalf of their grandchild, child who is in trouble
  • Lottery Scams – when people are told they have won large sums of money and are asked to wire money to handle shipping and taxes
  • Robocalls that insist you owe money to Canada Revenue Service, a utility, bank or large company lke Microsoft
  • Asset recovery cons that work by charging victims to file a complaint about a scam which can be done for free
  • Emails that ask you to change your PIN number or for personal information to solve a computer problem.
  • Read more to learn actions you can take to avoid scams including how to protect your family and  yourself from a hacker.
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How – and when – to find a retirement home for an aging parent

Caring for older adults with minor illnesses or reduced mobility issues is often easily incorporated into our lives. Caring for loved ones with serious illnesses, however, may be impossible and probably requires the ongoing intervention of trained health care providers. Caring for a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease is more stressful than caring for physically frail older adults because of the problems specific to dementia – disorientation, shifts in personality and physical limitations. When symptoms signal the increased need for supervision, a retirement home may be the best solution for all concerned.

Retirement Home Quick Check List

  • Do the residents look clean and adequately dressed?
  • Look for posting of fire regulations and evacuation routes.
  • How safe is it – are there handrails and non-slip floors, and is it well-lit?
  • Find out the policy on insurance and personal property.
  • Find out what furnishings you can bring, and whether or not telephone and TV are included or possible.
  • Is there a written plan for the care of each resident, and how often is an assessment done?
  • Check out the food – is it edible? Is drinking water easily accessible? Malnutrition and dehydration are common afflictions among seniors.
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Meditate your way to accident prevention

We know that practicing mindfulness improves both mental and physical health because it strengthens the part of the brain that helps you cope with anxiety, improves your eating habits and prepares you to face the unexpected without fear. It is not surprising, then, that there is a correlation between mindfulness and safety prevention. Researchers studying the effects of mindfulness have noted response mechanisms to various stimuli, that imply it can help prevent accidents.

Practicing meditation

  • Pay attention to details
  • Stay in the moment
  • Stay alert to stimuli without reacting emotionally
  • Be receptive to new information and ways of interpreting that information
  • Try not to over-plan everything. Most plans are too specific and prevent you from acting in the moment in response to new information.
  • Pay particular attention to the body and your experience of it
  • Face your thoughts, sensations and external stimuli objectively and non-judgmentally
  • Be aware of unexpected or negative stimuli without practicing avoidance
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How does my back work?

Learn about how your back works and basic body mechanics and safe lifting procedures.

Rules for Safe Lifting

  • Be sure to use your powerful leg muscles and large hip and knee joints while lifting.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles (to stabilize your spine and pelvis) and tuck your buttocks under; then bend your knees and lift
  • Keep the person or object you are lifting close to your body when lifting.
  • Avoid reaching over your head to lift. Lift only to shoulder level.
  • Place your feet firmly on the floor shoulder width apart (about 30 cm), creating a strong, wide base.
    Place one foot in the direction of the lift and then pivot both feet in this direction while moving.
  • Avoid twisting your back.
  • Grasp the person or object firmly using your full hand.
  • Lift in stages if necessary.
  • If the person or object slips, lower her/him/it gently to the floor while tightening your abdominal muscles and avoiding rotation.
  • Remember that planning, rhythm and timing are important in making a safe lift.
  • Stand upright and bend backwards gently five or six times after lifting.
  • Use mechanical lifting devices whenever possible.
  • Special considerations for when pregnant
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Caring for aging parents? You can’t do it alone. Here is how to get some help.

Caring for aging parents can be as demanding as a full time job. It can involve helping with medical appointments, shopping, dressing and bathing, housekeeping, house maintenance and running errands. Some or all of these tasks are required on a constant, yet often erratic basis, leaving you on call 24/7. Sometimes you need help with only certain elements of your caregiving regime, and you may be able to access those at the community level. In some areas there is a whole laundry list of services to choose from.

Services typically covered by community-funded support include:

  • Adult day programs
  • Transportation
  • Grocery shopping
  • Lawn and snow care
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Wheels to Meals / Congregate Dining
  • Friendly visiting
  • In-home foot care
  • In-home lab testing
  • Home cleaning
  • Seniors' advocacy services
  • Elder abuse support
  • Support for immigrant seniors
  • Hospice care
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How to keep a clean house all week long and not go crazy

If you are responsible for cleaning your home, chances are you’re also the one with the burden of groceries, cooking, and working a job. The more people that are under your wing, the more exhausting balancing all the responsibilities can get. There are two types of extremes when it comes to housekeeping. One is to live in a constant state of mess, and the other is to be anxious over every untidy spot. Living in a mess is harmful for your physical and mental health, so cleaning is a must. But expecting that you will keep your dwelling spotless every day of the week is unrealistic. You have to accept that unless you stay at home all day and have no children, you cannot have an out of the magazine clean house at all times. There will be a messy room or spot every now and then. Consider the level of cleanliness that is both achievable with the time you have on hand, and acceptable for your comfort, and go from there. It is possible to have a generally clean house all week long however by having a systematic approach to cleaning.

Why cleaning is a must for your health:

  • A kitchen with piled dishes over a long time will collect disease causing bacteria and attract rodents
  • A dirty bathroom will build up mold which is associated with depression, as well as grow other dangerous bacteria
  • Clutter will increase dust and aggravate respiratory diseases and allergies
  • Clutter can also be a safety and tripping hazard
  • A messy house may cause stress, while cleaning reduces it
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External Links

Canadian Virtual Hospice

The Canadian Virtual Hospice site provides support and information about palliative and end-of-life care to patients, family members, healthcare providers, researchers and educators.

You may find this site useful if you:

  • Have questions you want to ask a clinical team specialized in palliative care
  • Need information about managing symptoms, accessing financial benefits, or help navigating the healthcare system
  • Are healthcare professional looking for tools and resources
  • Just want to talk
  • You want to support a family member or friend who is dying
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Home Care Ontario

Home Care Ontario, the voice of home care in Ontario™, is a member-based organization representing providers of quality home care services from across Ontario.

You may find this site useful if you:

  • Want a better understanding of how home care works and types of care that may be helpful
  • Want to find a home care provider
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About Kids Health

AboutKidsHealth is a health education website for children, youth and their caregivers. It is designed to empower families by making complex health information easy to understand.

Topics covered on this site include:

  • An alphabetical listing of health topics
  • An alphabetical listing of drug information
  • Access to learning hubs
  • Information on ages and stages, healthy living and prevention
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Family caregiving: What are the consequences?

28% of the population aged 15 and over, provided care to family members or friends with a long-term health condition, a disability or problems associated with aging. Among these family caregivers, 39% primarily cared for their father or mother, 8% for their spouse or partner, and 5% for their child. The remaining (48%) provided care to other family members or friends.

This report:

  • Profiles Canadian Caregivers
  • Discusses the psychological, health and financial consequences
  • Lists resources for family members
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Alzheimer Society Canada

The Alzheimer Society is the leading not-for-profit health organization working nationwide to improve the quality of life for Canadians affected by Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and advance the search for the cause and cure. Active in communities right across Canada, the Society has programs and services near you.

At this site you can access information about:

  • Learn about dementia and living with dementia
  • Where you can access programs and services near you
  • Resources for:
    • People with dementia
    • Caregivers
    • Healthcare professionals
    • First responders
    • Financial advisors
  • Research
  • News and Events
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Carers Canada

A carer is a person who takes an unpaid caring role for someone who needs help because of a physical or cognitive condition, an injury or a chronic life-limiting disease. Did you know that 8.1 million Canadians are carers and 50% of these carers are between the ages of 45-65? It is difficult to juggle your work and caregiving responsibilities. Carers Canada is an national coalition of federal and provincial organizations that identifies and responds to the needs of caregivers by promoting awareness of the role and value of carers, supports informing and influencing government policies and programs and stimulates collective action that addresses carers’ priorities and needs.

You may find this site useful if you:

  • Looking for caregiver support
  • Want to access support and resources
  • Information on creating a supporting carers within the workplace
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Seniors for Seniors

Seniors for Seniors is a site that combines quality care with companions close in age to those needing support. Sharing common experiences is an essential component of compassionate caregiving. The site can help provide mature companions t assist seniors in living in happier, more independent lives in the comfort of their own home, retirement community or long term care facility.

Services that can be accessed include:

  • Personal and Homemaking
  • Companions
  • Driver Companions
  • Live-in Companions
  • Overnight Assistance
  • House Cleaners
  • Drop In Companions
  • Foot Care Services
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Work Life Balance Quiz

More than ever before, Canadians play many different roles in their lives. They are workers, parents, spouses, friends, caregivers of elderly relatives and volunteers in their communities. They must also make room in their lives for taking care of their own physical and mental well-being. Not surprisingly, achieving balance among all these competing priorities can be difficult.

But, as difficult as work/life balance is to define, most of us know when we’re out of balance. To find out more about your own personal balance:

  • Complete the Work-Life Balance Quiz
  • Tips and Resources to make your work-life balance better
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10 Ted Talks for When You are Feeling Burned out

As the TED Talk summary says these talks are for when you are feeling worn out, exhausted and bleary-eyed… they are a little something to ease your frustration and get you feeling better.

Topics covered include:

  • 10 minutes of mindfulness – Andy Puddicombe
  • How to make stress your friend – Kelly McGonigal
  • The power of time off – Stefan Sagmeister
  • Flow, the secret to happiness – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • The Art of Stillness – Pico Iyer
  • Wait it Out – Imogen Heap
  • Your elusive creative genius – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Are you Human – Ze Frank
  • How to Succeed? Get More sleep – Arianna Huffington
  • The happy secret to better work – Shawn Achor
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Heads Up Guys

Based out of The University of British Columbia this site is focused on helping men establish health strategies for managing depression. It provides information about depression in men, suicide, risk factors and triggers.

You may find this site useful if you want:

  • to understand what depression is and how it can impact you
  • practical tips and other information on how to take action
  • access information, campaigns and real life stories
  • to help your family member
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Ontario Caregiver Coalition

According to the Ontario Caregiver Coalition 1 in 5 Ontarioians are caregivers. This website is designed to help those individuals by providing a listing of provincial and federal resources that family caregivers can contact to inquire about local services or to find peer support.

You may find this site useful if you:

  • Are new to caregiving and need help fining resources in your community
  • Need information about Ontario’s Family Caregiver Leave or the Canada Revenue Agency Family Caregiver Tax Credit
  • Want to connect with other caregivers
  • Want to learn more about being an advocate for caregiving
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Caring for Kids

Caring for Kids provides parents with information about their child’s and teen’s health and well-being. Because the site is developed by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) you can be sure the information is reliable. The information should not be used as suitable for medical care and advice, if you have specific concerns about your child’s health, please see your child’s paediatrician, family physician or other health care provider.

Topics covered on this site include:

  • A pregnancy and babies
  • Healthy bodies
  • Keeping kids safe
  • Growing and learning
  • Illnesses and infections
  • Immunization
  • Behaviour and parenting
  • Teen Health
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Stress Index

In 2014, 23.0% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Since 2003, females were more likely than males to report that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’. In 2014, the rate for females was 23.7%, while for males the rate was 22.3%.

What's your stress index?

The link below will take you to the Canadian Mental Health Association stress index which will provide you feedback based on your self-assessment.

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On Demand Smart Chatbot For Caregivers

This AI Chatbot was built by scientists to support caregivers. Elizzbot  was developed by SE Health a not-for-profit social enterprise applying knowledge, vision and drive to forever impact how people live and age at home, today and into the future. Elizzbot is designed to use proven therapy techniques to provide unbiased emotional support and to help caregivers practice self care by strengthening emotional resilience and promoting wellbeing.

How it is built

  • Empathy – Elizzbot understands family caregivers and have tools made just for caregivers, including reframing guilt, self compassion, and motivation quotes!
  • Technology – Elizzbot remembers conversations and can develop context to keep improving the relevance of my responses.
  • Science – Elizzbot stores 700+ topics including techniques like mindfulness and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to help you reframe negative thoughts
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