All senior caregivers are subject to stress and burnout, even those that go into it with the best intentions. When caregivers are stressed, the person they care for can sense the tension and that causes them to become stressed as well. Caregivers need to take time to practice self-care so that they can tend to their caregiving duties when they feel refreshed and recharged. The sense of calm will transfer to the patient and he or she will also feel refreshed and happy. It takes the patient and caregiver working together and being willing to accept supplemental help so that the senior can remain living at home as long as possible.
It doesn’t always take much for a caregiver to regain strength. Caring for an aging or ill patient is exhausting. Sometimes all that a caregiver needs is to find someone that they trust to talk about their feelings and frustrations. Other caregivers find that they need a more formalized caregiver support meeting to attend on a regular basis. Many caregivers just need an occasional break and finding a respite provider, even if it’s only for a short while, brings welcome relief. It also helps to build time into the daily schedule for exercising or doing something special for the caregiver’s self.
Toronto Council on Aging is a hub for information on eldercare and aging, and works collaboratively with government and community organizations. The council presents annual forums for seniors and their caregivers on a variety of topics. They also have volunteers that present workshops called Friendly to Seniors for staff members of organizations. The council sends staff out to settings where seniors live to make assessments for safety and accessibility.
Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum is an intergovernmental body that was established to share information, discuss new and emerging issues related to seniors, and work collaboratively on issues. This organization helps senior caregivers better understand the process of aging. They also connect caregivers with services for powers of attorney, joint bank accounts, financial planning, income and benefits from government programs, managing and protecting assets, future planning, making a will, and financial fraud and abuse.
Toronto Central Healthline offers a respite care program for senior caregivers. Respite is intended as a temporary, substitute living arrangement or special care in the senior’s home. Respite provides a brief period of relief or rest for family members, guardians, or regular caregivers. Respite is usually given for a period of at least 24 hours. Senior caregivers may also be able to get short stay respite or help with transitioning a senior to a retirement residence. The agency also offers adult day programs that will provide partial day programming that is supervised by professionals.
Welcome Home Care is service that provides companionship for seniors, transportation, and running errands. Staff will also help seniors with bathing, grooming, oral hygiene, feeding, special diets, transferring, positioning, mobility assistance, medication reminders, meal preparation and cleanup, laundry services, recreation, and light housekeeping. One of the most desirable services is respite care, where workers take over caregiving duties to allow them to rest.
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