Alzheimer Society of Windsor/ Essex County (519) 974-2220
Amy’s Helping Hands (519) 915-4370
CCAC- Community Care Access
Canadian Mental Health Association
Comfort Keepers (519) 946-1001
GoProducenow.com (519) 563-7278
Home Instead (519) 739-1500
LeeandMarias.com (519) 733-9328
Life After Fifty (519)-254-1108
LittleFootFoods.com (226) 246-2382
MacroFoods.ca (519) 258-8224
Safeguard Medical Alert System
VON Adult Day Program (519) 944-7907
VON Home Help (519) 254-4866 ext. 6228
VON Meals on Wheels (519) 254-4866 ex. 6215
VON Private Care Services 1-855-285-2990 Option 4
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Caregiving is a selfless act that can be both extremely rewarding but also enormously stressful. Burnout and illness are often the result when the physical and mental health of the caregiver are ignored. The sources of stress are numerous. No off time, interrupted sleep, having little time to oneself, managing familial relationships and dealing with the dynamics of role reversal when caring for an aging and demanding parent can all take their toll. Lack of economic support, extra expenses and reduced income from a reduction in working hours can also put tremendous pressure on a caregiver.
Anne became a caregiver to her dad who, at age 70, started showing signs of dementia brought about from a rare neurological disorder that affected both his mind and body. She shared caregiving responsibilities with her mother and they took care of him for 6 years until he passed away from his illness.
“At the time, I had no idea what we were in for. I was not prepared for what was to come. My father needed care 24/7 and because we were ill prepared to deal with all the facets of his deteriorating health, the resulting stress took its toll on us. I learned a lot as I went along, but in hindsight, had I the knowledge I have now back then, we could have spared ourselves a great deal of heartache, sleepless nights and stress” she says.
The key is not to wait until you’re worn out or struggling with your role as caregiver. Creating a back-up plan early on will help ease the stress and prevent burnout.
Your backup plan should include options and alternatives to care for both yourself and your loved one. The following are important tips to consider…
Don’t shoulder it alone -get some help.
If your caregiving role extends beyond a few months or a few hours per day, call on siblings, other family members or good friends to share some of the responsibilities. This could be simply picking up some groceries and medical supplies, driving your loved one to doctors’ appointments or helping with household chores and yard work. Set up a “Care-Share Schedule” so everyone knows their responsibilities and what’s expected of them.
Know your Options -Affordable community healthcare resources are available to help.
When more support is needed on a regular basis, get outside help from healthcare agencies or businesses that provide home care, personal assistance and community support to enhance the quality of life of both the caregiver and the person being care for.
They can provide respite services and lighten the caregiver’s load of responsibilities. Many community services are provided at low cost or are government subsidized. Investigate and plan ahead in anticipation of needing them in the future.
VON Windsor-Essex provides assistance with light housekeeping through their Home Help Program. The cost is affordable and subsidies may be available. VON also offers Private Care Services with visiting nurses or shift nurses, Personal Support Services, an Adult Day Program and Respite Care to give caregivers a break from their duties.
Other organizations such as the Alzheimer Society offer care services including a Day Away Program, In-home Respite Care Program, and a Volunteer Companion Program for a low fee. Several local businesses including Comfort Keepers, Home Instead and Amy’s Helping Hands also provide a variety of in-home personal care services.
Choose convenient alternatives for grocery purchases and food preparation.
Grocery shopping and preparing fresh nutritious meals on a daily basis, when added to your caregiving duties, can be time consuming and exhausting.
On-line shopping platforms have taken grocery shopping to another level. Shop on-line and simply pick up your order at the store or have it delivered to your door.
Zehrs and Real Canadian Superstore have partnered with Instacart.ca to offer grocery delivery service in as little as one hour for a small fee.
Local businesses such as goProduce and Lee and Maria’s Farm allow you to shop online for farm fresh produce and groceries which they then deliver to your home.
When assistance is needed with meal preparation, allow VON to do the cooking for you. VON’s Meals on Wheels offers delicious and affordable meals, both on a short term or long term basis, to assist with caregiver relief, recuperation or seasonal needs. Their nutritious meals can be prepared in accordance with your wishes or dietary restrictions, can be chopped, minced or pureed and are delivered by volunteers from Monday to Friday at cost of only $6.50 per meal.
Local businesses such as Macrofoods and Little Foot Foods allow you to shop on line for delicious pre-made meals which they prepare, package and deliver right to your door.
Use technology to keep your loved one safe and eliminate worry.
Ensuring your loved one is safe while you’re at work or away from home can reduce stress levels significantly. When you can’t be there 24/7, you can still be assured your loved one is safe and secure by using a Medical Alert System. Medical Alert Systems are wireless push button devices which use advanced technology to communicate with an emergency response centre. This provides peace of mind while simultaneously allowing individuals to continue living independently, both in the comfort of their home or on the go.
Locally owned SafeGuard provides high quality reliable products and services to accommodate everyone’s lifestyle and budget. SafeGuard offers a variety of Emergency Response Systems, consisting of a personal waterproof two-way voice emergency device with a button that can be worn as a pendant necklace, wristwatch or belt clip style. When activated, the pendant causes the console’s digital communicator to send the appropriate signal to SafeGuard’s locally operated Medical Emergency Monitoring Centre. SafeGuard also offers a GPS-enabled personal medical alert system with auto-location and on-line tracking tools, in addition to Medical Alert Systems SafeGuard offers a full line of camera systems that allows for remote viewing of your loved one from your computer or mobile device.
Take a leave of absence from work.
The Family Caregiver Leave available under the Employment Standard’s Act 2000 allows up to eight weeks of unpaid, job protected leave each calendar year for employees to care or support a family member with a serious medical condition. Employees may also be entitled to take critical illness leave to provide care or support to an adult who is a family member, whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk from an illness or injury. Critical illness leave may be taken for up to 17 weeks to care for an adult. Employers must be notified in writing and a medical certificate must be obtained from a qualified medical practitioner.
Take care of your own needs through socialization, stress management or supportive care.
Don’t allow the pressures of caregiving to envelop your life. Your health is just as important as that of the person you are caring for.
Make sure to take plenty of breaks. Get involved with social organizations such as Life After Fifty (LAF) that offers lots of social interaction and support through special events, workshops, courses, exercise programs, health and wellness presentations and access to a variety of community resources. Other local community organizations, senior’s clubs, retiree associations and church groups can also provide comfort and support during your most stressful times.
It might also be helpful talk to a professional who can help manage stress and sort through feelings of anger, guilt and frustration. The Canadian Mental Health Association of Windsor offers a variety of mental health programs and resources in times of need.
Keep your own health in check.
If you’re a senior caring for your spouse, get regular medical check ups and don’t ignore any warning signs that may be confused with caregiver fatigue. Take advantage of community organizations that offer a variety of healthcare services at little or no cost. You'll find them listed on our Community Services Listing.
for Stress Relief