Ready to Care

As we approach the challenges of an aging population, it is more important than ever for all of us to take an active role in caring for the seniors in our communities. Care can be as simple as running an errand for a grandparent, checking in on a neighbour, even saying hello or holding a door for a stranger. This kindness not only benefits the person it is extended to; it can cause a ripple effect that creates connections in the greater community.

Throughout our history, Home Instead Senior Care has worked within our communities to make an impact in the lives of older adults. The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation of Canada runs programs such as GIVE65 that match donations to local campaigns, and every holiday season we partner with local businesses and community organizations to provide gifts to vulnerable seniors through our Be a Santa to a Senior program. We have continued our mission to change the face of aging by launching Ready to Care, a social movement aimed at improving the lives of seniors through individual actions.  

It takes no time at all to become a part of the Ready to Care movement. Once you’ve signed up at, you’ll receive weekly care missions delivered directly to your phone. These simple, everyday acts of compassion and understanding go a long way to making a difference in a senior’s life. When you join the network, you’ll also receive tips and inspiration from others who are creating positive change in the lives of the elderly. 

Together, we can expand the world’s capacity to care for seniors. Join our movement today at and see how your actions can have a powerful impact.

Woodbine – Lumsden

Senior Care services Woodbine - Lumsden
This Home Instead Senior Care office serves the areas of Toronto East, including the communities of:

Woodbine – Lumsden

About Woodbine Lumsden:

Home Instead Senior Care not only provides in-home care for residents in Woodbine Lumsden but is located right in the neighbourhood, just south of the Danforth on Woodbine Ave.

Woodbine Lumsden is a neighbourhood of Toronto in the east end, which is bounded by Woodbine Avenue to the west, Main Street to the east, O’Connor Drive and Taylor Creek Park to the north.  The Canadian National railroad tracks running just south of the Danforth Avenue mark its southern boundary.

Woodbine Lumsden Area Ammenities for Seniors:


Woodbine and Main TTC stations are the closest to subway stops in the neighbourhood,  and connect to east/west subway trains. Main Street station is wheelchair accessible.

Buses to the area are from Broadview station (routes 62 and 87), and north from Woodbine Station (route 91).

Danforth Go Train Station (at 213 Main St. south of Danforth) is only partially wheelchair accessible.

Wheel-Trans provides door-to-door accessible transit service for persons with physical disabilities using accessible buses, contracted accessible and sedan taxis.  Their strict eligibility guidelines can be discussed via appointment by calling 416-393-4111.  Once eligibility is confirmed, reservations are at 416-393-4222.

Toronto Ride provides door-to-door, assisted transportation to seniors 55+ and adults with disabilities who are not eligible for Wheel-Trans. This partnership of 14 not-for-profit agencies in Toronto can be reached at 416-481-5250.

Seniors may be eligible for an Accessibility Parking Permit through the City of Toronto.  Inquire at 416 235-2999.

Non-Medical transportation for Seniors to important appointments can also be arranged with accompaniment through your local Home Instead office.


Main Street (at 137 Main St south of Gerrard) 416 393-7700, S. Walter Stewart (at 170 Memorial Park Ave) 416  396-3975 and Danforth/Coxwell (at 1675 Danforth Avenue) 416 393-7783 branches are wheelchair accessible and offer books, films, internet access and community-based programs. 

Parks, Community Centres:

Taylor Creek Park follows a major tributary to the Forks of the Don River. Three rivers meet at the forks and form the Lower Don River: the East Don, the West Don and this tributary. Known by several names over the years (Taylor Creek, Massey Creek and Silver Creek), its mature forests, scrub communities and marsh habitat support a diversity of wildlife and regionally rare plants make it ideal for hiking, walking, off-road cycling and snowshoeing.   Vehicles can enter Taylor Creek Park at Don Mills Road, Haldon Avenue or Dawes Road.

Stan Wadlow Park (at 373 Cedarvale Ave)  (416) 396-2847 is a 8.5 hectare park near O’Connor Avenue and Woodbine Avenue featuring a Kiwanis outdoor pool, the East York Memorial Arena, the East York Curling club, ball diamonds, a sports field, a dog off-leash area, a splash pad and a children’s playground.

Main Square Community Centre (at 245 Main St) is a 3-level facility with a 25 metre pool and two multipurpose area with a wide range of programming for seniors like Cardio for Older Adults and Osteofit for Aduts 60+.  416 392-1070.

Community Centre 55 (at 97 Main Street and Swanwick Avenue) has community-based programs like free Tax Clinics, Flu Shots, Seniors’ Yoga, Fitness and a Book Club.  416 691-1113.

O’Connor Community Centre (at 1386 Victoria Park Avenue and O’Connor) recently reopened, and has a free gym, weight room and an outdoor pool.  They offer special programs for adults 60+ like Line Dancing (country, latin and sequence – and partners not required), Visual Arts(drawing, painting, and pottery)and Cardio.  They also have a Drop in social time for Adults 55+.  416 395-7957.

WoodGreen Community Services – Community Care and Wellness for Seniors (at 840 Coxwell Ave. near Mortimer) is a Community Centre for older adults offering Day Trips, Income Tax Clinics, Luncheons, Blood Pressure Clinics and Foot Care Clinics.  416-467-1166.

East York Civic Centre (at 850 Coxwell Avenue near Mortimer Avenue) was the municipal office of the former Borough of East York, until amalgamation.  It now houses various committee offices and city services department for residents of East York. A farmer’s market takes place at the Civic Centre from May to November.

Harmony Hall Centre for Seniors (at 2 Gower Street) is a multicultural community centre specializing in transportation, recreation, education, wellness and support services for seniors and adults with disabilities.  Programs for seniors are in English, Chinese, Tamil and Bengali and bring all four groups together to promote cultural harmony. The objectives are to enhance the physical, psychological, social and cultural well being of seniors and adults with disabilities;  help seniors and adults with disabilities gain access to appropriate health and social services and to encourage the meaningful participation of seniors and adults with disabilities in the community.  416 752-0101.

Neighbourhood Link Support Service (at 3036 Danforth Avenue) offers an Adult Day Program, Akwasti Program (translated from Huron-Wendattra, it means “in the inner beauty of happiness, they grow old), Chinese Programs, Client Intervention and Assistance, Congregate Dining, Meals on Wheels Program, Respite Service and Caregiver Relief, Security Checks, Social and Recreational Programs.  It t is a community-based care and support program provided through recreational activities for frail seniors and those with cognitive impairments to minimize their isolation and promote their physical and emotional health in a safe and friendly environment.  416 691-7407.

Ethiopian Association in the GTA (at 1950 Danforth Ave near Woodbine Ave) offers Seniors Outreach and Recreation, Networking, Referrals, Cultural programs and Workshops, Facility is not wheelchair accessible 416-694-1522

Hospitals, Clinics and Healthcare: 

The nearest hospital is Toronto East General Hospital (located at 825 Coxwell Avenue and Sammon Avenue) has an emergency department.  416 461-8272.

Parkview Hills Rehab & Wellness Clinic (at 2648 St Clair Ave E) offers Physiotherapy, Registered Massage Therapy, Chiropractic, Laser Therapy, Reflexology and Nutritional Training.   (416) 759-8099

 Appletree Medical Group (at 1450 O’Connor Dr and Bermondsey Road) has a walk-in medical clinic.  647-722-2370

East York Medical Health Centre (at 45 Overlea Blvd, on the lower level of East York Town Centre) provides medical and diagnostic care including Dermatology, Cardiology, Rheumatology, Neurology, Gynecology, Urology, Chiropractic Care & Rehabilitation, X-rays, Stress Echos & Exercise Stress Testing, Bone Density Testing, Holter Monitoring  and more. 416-696-9836.

Did you know?

Kids under 14 and Seniors each make up 14% of the population of Woodbine Lumsden, while Youth represent 10% and working age Adults are 63%. 
The neighbourhood is transitioning from having a high percentage of seniors to being a popular place for couples to buy along the subway line.

81% of Woodbine/Lumsden residents speak English at home.

The vast percentage of homes in this area are single detached.

Bendale – Cedarbrae

Senior Care office serves Bendale


About Bendale

Home Instead Senior Care provides in home care for residents in Bendale (also called Cedarbrae) in the Scarborough area of Toronto.

Bendale‘s boundaries are Midland Avenue from Lawrence, north to Highway 401, east to McCowan, south to Lawrence, east to West Highland Creek, south-west along West Highland Creek, then follows several side streets parallel to the Creek, north to Midland Avenue.

The area is culturally diverse, like much of Toronto, and has a greater proportion of South Asian population, especially Tamils. 

Bendale Area Ammenities for Seniors


Non-Medical transportation for Seniors to important appointments can also be arranged with accompaniment through your local Home Instead office.

McCowan station, and Midland Station are both TTC Stations on the Scarborough LRT line, near Bendale.

Buses running along Midland Avenue and McCowan Road, connect passengers to stations on the Bloor-Danforth (Line 2) subway line. The Lawrence Avenue and Ellesmere Road buses provide connecting routes to the Yonge-University-Spadina (Line 1) subway line.

Wheel-Trans provides door-to-door accessible transit service for persons with physical disabilities using accessible buses, contracted accessible and sedan taxis.  Their strict eligibility guidelines can be discussed via appointment by calling 416-393-4111.  Once eligibility is confirmed, reservations are at 416-393-4222.

Toronto Ride provides door-to-door, assisted transportation to seniors 55+ and adults with disabilities who are not eligible for Wheel-Trans. This partnership of 14 not-for-profit agencies in Toronto can be reached at 416-481-5250.

Seniors may be eligible for an Accessibility Parking Permit through the City of Toronto.  Inquire at 416 235-2999.

Parks, Community Centres:

Alexis Lodge (at 705-707 Ellesmere Rd. near Birchmount Road)offers an Adult Day Program for Alzheimer seniors and adults with disabilities.  It is a secure location offering Exercise Classes, Outdoor Walks, Walking Maintenance Program, Foot Care, Field Trips, Arts and Crafts, Special Interest Films, Games, Gardening, Entertainment and Music Programs and Guest Speakers.  416 752-1923

Thomson Memorial Park (at Lawrence Avenue East and Brimley Road) is a 41.8 hectare park that follows the West Highland Creek.  This is one of Toronto’s largest and most beautiful parks with paths through the large wooded ravine, including a paved trail, ball diamond, sports field, tennis courts, picnic areas, off-leash area, wading pool, playground, children’s zoo and snack bar.

Within the park is the Scarborough Historical Museum comprised of historic homes that tell the tale of the immigrant experience. The gardens have plants of many types that were central to the life of the early settler for sustenance, savoury flavourings, textiles and medicinal purposes.  416 338-8807.

Birkdale Community Centre (at 1299 Ellesmere Road) offers neighbourhood meeting rooms.  The adjacent park contains a paved recreation trail that connects with the Thompson Memorial Park.  416 396-4069.

North Bendale Park (at 40 Erinlea Crescent) is a 4.5 hectare park near Ellesmere Road and Bellamy Road North that features a ball diamond, tennis courts and a children’s playground. The park has a network of paths connecting neighbouring streets and an open green space.

Bendale Pool at the Business Technical Institute (at 1555 Midland Ave) and has a fully accessible 25-metre pool offering lessons and leisure swims. 416 396-4015

Cedarbrook Community Centre (at 91 Eastpark Boulevard) is a former golf clubhouse which retains its past charm. Overlooking a park and ravine setting, the community centre runs programs for older adults.  It is fully accessible. 416 396-4028.

McGregor Park Recreation Centre (at 2231 Lawrence Avenue East) is a large multi-purpose facility featuring year-round programming for all ages and abilities including recreational swimming, art, skating, fitness and general interest classes, as well as drop-in times for older adults. It is fully accessible with direct access to the adjacent library.  416 396-4023.


Bendale  (at 1515 Danforth Road) 416-396-8910 and McGregor Park (at 2219 Lawrence Avenue East) 416 396-8935 library branches are wheelchair accessible and offer books, films, internet access and community-based programs.
Hospitals, Clinics and Healthcare:
The Scarborough Hospital is the nearest hospital and it operates two campuses, the General Campus (at 3050 Lawrence Ave. E) 416 438-2911 and the Birchmount Campus (at 3030 Birchmount Rd) 416 495-2400.  Both have emergency rooms.  Patient Programs for seniors include Acute Care for the Elderly, Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network Clinic, Psycho-geriatric Outreach Program and Stroke Care.

One Stop Medical Centre (at 3585 Lawrence Ave East) offers both urgent walk-in care and advanced care. 416 431-0736.

Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities offers Senior Active Living programs to help seniors maintain their independence and remain healthy members of our community and feel respected. Programs include Supportive Housing, Adult Day Centre for Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, disabled adults and frail seniors who are socially isolated, Wheels-to-Meals Program, Intervention and Assistance Services.  The Pine Tree Senior Centre is a gathering place for seniors to enjoy interesting, creative activities and to make new friends.

Did you know?

Bendale was recently ranked #65 in Toronto Life’s “The Ultimate Neighbourhoods Rankings“.

There is a  senior dating site specifically for the area, including Ionview East, Scarborough, Kennedy Park, East Birchmount Park

Bendale was settled in 1796 by David and Mary Thomson, who were the first Europeans to reside in the former Township of Scarborough. David Thomson’s brothers, Andrew and Archibald, also settled nearby. Thomson Memorial Park is named in their honour.  At the centre of Scarborough, Bendale became home to the first settlement, the first church and school, and eventually the first hospital in the township.

After the Second World War, suburban developments sprang up and the population saw significant growth with waves of new immigrants joining the descendants of much earlier immigrants in the community.

A section of the neighbourhood is known as the “Ben Jungle“, located north of Lawrence Avenue between McCowan and Bellamy Roads, it is where all the street names begin with Ben ( like Benleigh, Benshire and Ben Nevis Drives, Benfrisco, Benhur and Benorama Crescents, Benadair and Benprice Courts and Ben Stanton and Ben Doran Boulevards.

Bendale was originally known as Benlomond, a Scottish name given to the local post office in 1878.  However the Benlomond name had already been in use elsewhere and in 1881, this community was renamed Bendale.

The street layout of Bendale discourages use of the streets as a thoroughfare by motorists or pedestrians as the main roads of McCowan, Lawrence Ave and Bellamy are more efficient.

Online Fraud Protection for Seniors

According to a recent survey by Home Instead Senior Care, 3 out of 5 seniors in Canada and the U.S. have been the victim of an online scam. ZNews Videographer Darrin Maharaj takes a look at what Home Instead is doing to help prevent Zoomers from being at risk. Take the the Quiz here:

Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award

Home Instead Senior Care representatives were on hand to receive the prestigious Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award at the 25th annual Canadian Franchise Association National Convention in Ottawa. From left are: Rainer Mueller, Mount Seven Group; Roger Seier, Home Instead; Phyllis Hegstrom, Home Instead; Rod Roberts, Home Instead; and Don Leslie, A&W Food Services of Canada.

Home Instead Senior Care Wins Prestigious Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award

Canadian Franchise Association recognizes work to improve the lives of seniors

TORONTO – Home Instead Senior Care won the Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award at a gala award presentation April 18 at the 25th annual Canadian Franchise Association National Convention in Ottawa.
In granting the award for the Be a Santa to a Senior program, the CFA called out the “commitment and contributions to philanthropic endeavours across Canada.”

“The CFA Recognition Awards are about excellence in the franchise community,” says CFA President and Chief Executive Officer, Lorraine McLachlan. “Franchising is a significant business sector in Canada making positive contributions to the Canadian economy and the community-at-large.  Our prestigious CFA Recognition Awards celebrate these contributions – whether corporately through the CFA Hall of Fame Award, individually through the CFA Lifetime Achievement Award and Volunteer Leadership Excellence Award, or socially through the CFA Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award. We congratulate all the winners on their achievements.”

Home Instead was in great company at the awards event — Canadian Tire was also recognized for its Jumpstart Charities.

Company representatives Rod Roberts, Business Performance Director; Phyllis Hegstrom, Director Government Affairs; and Roger Seier, Canadian Business Performance Manager, received the award on behalf of Canadian franchise owners.

Jeff Huber, President and Chief Executive Officer of Home Instead, Inc., paid tribute to Canadian franchise owners for their outstanding efforts:

“Our franchise owners give back to their communities in so many ways and they work tirelessly to truly help seniors,” he said. “We are honoured to accept this Outstanding Corporate Citizen award because being recognized in this way validates our mission – which is to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families.”

About the program: Every year, Home Instead franchise owners and their community partners enrich the lives of tens of thousands of seniors by celebrating the holidays with Be a Santa to a Senior. Since the inception of this philanthropic initiative, Home Instead has donated more than 1.2 million gifts across its North American franchise network.

Helping Hand Through Dementia

Helping Hand Through Dementia - East Toronto Home Instead Senior Care
Toronto, May 25, 2010 –Maria Freda could barely eat or sleep during the weeks her 77-year-old mother languished in a hospital bed, deemed too frail to return to her daughter’s east-end home, but not sick enough for the constant care of nurses and doctors.

Freda knew her mom needed a long-term care facility, but she was overwhelmed by the choice. She spent days scouring the Internet for advice, talking to hospital discharge staff and workers with Ontario’s much-lauded Community Care Access Centres, who are mandated by the province to help needy seniors connect with services.

“They were all very nice and gave me tonnes of pamphlets. All I remember them saying is, ‘You just have to choose three (nursing homes) and put in applications.’

“I didn’t know what to do, where to turn or what was the best option. One of the social workers at the emerg gave me a nice big book on retirement homes in Ontario and said, ‘This may make the decision easier.’ But I didn’t know any of these places. I didn’t want to abandon my mother. I almost had a nervous breakdown.”

In desperation, Freda sought out pricey help to get her, and her mom, through the maze of care options in Ontario. She hired one of the growing number of “geriatric care consultants” springing up across the country — private-sector “experts” who are helping frazzled baby boomers find care for their aging parents.

Freda felt comforted immediately by the reassuring voice and take-charge attitude of Jill O’Donnell, the founder of Iris Consulting for Seniors (

“I think a lot of baby boomers are the same — we want to do the best for our parents because they’ve done so much for us. But I wasn’t getting the information I needed. I was being expected to do a lot of the legwork myself, and in my gut I couldn’t tell what was the right place for my mother,” says Freda.

O’Donnell met with Freda and her mother at the hospital, took a look at medical records, then assessed the elderly woman’s needs based on her rapidly worsening dementia.

Within a week, O’Donnell gave Freda a list of suggestions, including Alexis Lodge on Ellesmere Ave., a 16-bed home specializing in the care of people with dementia. In the end, Freda opted for another of O’Donnell’s options, Harold & Grace Baker Centre, across the city from her Logan and Danforth Aves. home.

The whole thing cost $850 — although more complicated cases can cost thousands.

“I was prepared to pay anything, I was so frazzled,” says Freda. “This is not my area of expertise.”

O’Donnell was one of the first to start offering geriatric care advice back in 1981 after spending years working in hospitals and long-term care facilities and seeing families overwhelmed by both the lack of adequate resources, and knowledge.

In many ways, things are even worse know, says O’Donnell. The growing number of elderly, and especially those with dementia, is putting even more pressure on the limited number of long-term care beds, many older nursing homes are in need of updates and it can be difficult to know, even if you can come up with a shortlist and do a personal tour, whether the care provided is best for your relative’s specific needs.

O’Donnell has not only seen all the facilities she recommends personally, she knows the administrators and some of the staff. She knows their strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes a personal call can make the difference between a wait and a bed.

Increasingly, busy baby boomers, especially those who live far from their aging parents, will pay her to drop in from time to time and keep an eye on how their folks are doing.

“We’re like surrogate adult children,” says O’Donnell.

They’ve also become an alternative to public-sector social workers and CCAC staff who can be overloaded with cases. O’Donnell and her staff handle about a dozen cases at a time, which allows them to highly customize their efforts.

But a lot of people can’t afford her services — or the growing number of private home-care companies and retirement facilities that are springing up to pick up the slack as the first wave of baby boomers hits 65 next year.

“Families are often waiting until a crisis hits, rather than working proactively (to plan ahead for where their parents should go as they age),” says Jacqueline Campbell, of Campbell Consulting (

“What you hear from families is they’ve always thought the government would take care of everything, and (politicians) certainly do talk a lot about Ontario’s ‘aging in place’ strategy,” for providing services and supports to seniors.

“Families are often surprised to find that they can’t get what they thought they would for free, and they’re shocked to find how much money they’re having to spend.”

Campbell says geriatric-care consultants can be especially valuable if family members can’t agree on the best options for aging relatives, or have parents who are determined to remain in charge, despite their failing health. Sometimes an independent assessment, delivered by an outsider, can make the choice more obvious.

“A lot of people aren’t willing to pay for consultants because they don’t understand or appreciate the value that they bring. Or they tend to think they can handle it all themselves,” says Bruce Mahony of Home Instead, a private-sector company often called upon by geriatric-care consultants to provide interim care for frail seniors in their homes.

“In a sense, they can be a financial planner — if you don’t have the means, they’re going to help you find a place that is safe, affordable and sustainable. If you have lots of means, then there are more options. So they’re not just for the rich.”

The best consultants, Mahony stresses, are those who have worked in the health- and long-term care system.

“A lot (of people now advertising themselves as geriatric-care consultants) managed their parents through the system and consider themselves experts. The reality is that when you get into health care, it’s a life-long learning experience.”

Seniors Need More Help With Daily Tasks

Seniors Need More Help With Daily Tasks
Adult children are seeking private home-care for aging parents.

While many companies are struggling, those that provide home-care to Canada’s seniors say they’ve been surprised and delighted to find business booming.

“The trend over the last six months is that our client base has been growing – in fact, it’s grown by more than 25 per cent across Canada,” says John DeHart, co-founder of Nurse Next Door Home Healthcare Services.

The company, with 23 locations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, says it’s adding two new locations a month and franchise inquiries have swelled 30 per cent, largely because of people looking for a new venture after losing their jobs.

Another provider, Home Instead Senior Care, says revenues increased by 24 per cent in 2008 and it projects similar growth for 2009 from 22 independently owned locations across Canada.

DeHart attributes the boost to families trying to defer assisted-living facility costs by keeping aging parents in their own homes as long as possible. When seniors need more help with daily tasks like dressing, cooking and housework, government-provided care is limited and goes only to those in greatest need, he says, leaving many families in search of a way to fill the gaps.

Seniors often plan to use proceeds from the sale of their home to cover retirement or nursing home fees when it comes time to make that move, he says, but a contracting housing market has removed that option for many.

Demographics is also boosting companies like theirs even as others falter, says Nurse Next Door co-founder Ken Sim.

“Our health care system is already stretched as it is and we aren’t sitting on a big pile of money that can be injected into the system on a sustainable basis to meet these changing needs,” DeHart says.

Particularly in this economy, home-care is an appealing option because it allows families to pay for only the help a senior needs on a flexible basis instead of the higher overhead costs of a live-in facility, he says.

Bruce Mahony, managing director of two Home Instead offices in Toronto, says more adult children are seeking private home-care for aging parents because they’re worried that dealing with those issues on their own could make them a target for companies looking to trim their workforce.

“You’re getting phone calls at work, you’re getting phone calls at night, you’re getting falls (by the parents) or nutritional issues or hydration issues,” he says of the fallout from dementia, which affects about 70 per cent of his company’s clients. “Fundamental issues that we take for granted start to emerge and it becomes very time-consuming.”

Gail Watson knows that all too well. The 42-year-old Vancouver resident lost a high-level corporate job five years ago when her performance began to sag under the weight of dealing with her mother’s emerging Alzheimer’s. Her mother is now living in a nursing home and Nurse Next Door provides six hours of care a week that allows her 85-year-old father to stay in his home. It also gives Watson enough time to devote to her young children and new e-mail marketing business.

“You need to be able to call (for help) because your life changes in a phone call,” she says. “It buys you time until you can get your resources straightened out with the province.”

Neil Prashad, president of Origin Retirement Communities, acknowledges that the company’s potential client base is “very, very spooked” by the economy, particularly because they live on fixed incomes.

However, Prashad says the fees charged by Origin, which has operations in Ontario, Alberta and B.C., are very reasonable because they include an array of expenses people often forget to account for. And he believes the quality of life is vastly superior to seniors living on their own.

“We know that this is a temporary thing; no one knows how long,” he says of the economic downturn. “Regardless of good times or bad, life goes on, and with seniors, we’re dealing with a relatively finite understanding of how long somebody has to enjoy their life.”

Prince George Citizen
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Section: Work Life
Byline: Shannon Proudfoot
Source: Canwest News Service

Who will care for Mom?

Aging population and high demand fuel the growth for seniors’ caregiving services - East Toronto

Who will care for Mom?

Aging population and high demand fuel the growth for seniors’ caregiving services

Toronto, January 13, 2009 – For the first time in history, it would seem that Canadian adults now have more parents than they do children.  One implication of this is that caregiving for seniors will be a high-growth occupation in coming years.  Despite the depressed economy, all indications are that the need for caregiving for seniors will only increase in the future.  It is already huge.

A newly released Statistics Canada study on eldercare says that some 2.7 million Canadians aged 45 and over were providing care for elderly family members or friends in 2007, which was up from 2 million in 2002.  Most of these caregivers were women, and more than half of them were working.  Thus, these people need help.  Professional caregivers can provide it.

“The needs of seniors drive the demand for our services, which in turn, creates more caregiving jobs,” said Bruce Mahony of Home Instead Senior Care.  “Surveys consistently show that seniors want to remain at home.  As aging occurs, staying at home without help can become more difficult, which is why many older adults need caregiving assistance.  Our caregivers don’t just care for seniors, but also care about seniors, many of whom are suffering from loneliness, depression and anxiety.”

Home Instead Senior Care is an international organization whose professional caregivers go into the homes of seniors to help them with such needs as companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands, palliative care and shopping.  It has 21 locations across Canada, and employs about 2,500 caregivers from coast to coast.

The fact that Canadians are living longer and the population is aging propels the need for caregiving for seniors. What’s more, the first Boomers will turn 65 in 2011 and will soon need caregiving services for themselves.

“The potential for the caregiving industry is absolutely huge,” says Dr. Amy D’Aprix, Founder and President of The Caregivers’ Coach, and an expert on aging, caregiving, palliative care and retirement issues.  “The non-medical, home care business is going to explode.  Boomers come from a culture of independent choice and freedom, and as they get older, they will want to maintain that for themselves.  Hiring an outside professional caregiver will let them do that as they age.  Boomers already want these services for their own parents.” D’Aprix says an increasing number
of family caregivers are stressed out caring for aging parents, and that professional caregivers provide a “partnership” with the family in need.

“The goal is better care for seniors and less stress for the family,” she said.  “Professional caregivers fill three needs – allowing seniors to remain independent in their home, providing emotional support, and providing family support. 

The advantages of elderly care at home include (home helper services):

  • Direct cost saving – A visiting nurse, home health aide, or personal and home care aide are all cheaper than a senior staying in a seniors’ residence or a long-term care facility.
  • Convenience – It’s much more convenient to leave a hospital sooner when all a senior might need is assistance with their daily activities.
  • Quality of life – The senior still lives in the comfort of their own home.

The advantages of a career in caregiving are that:

  • The job is a viable option for those taking care of their own families, or for individuals who are looking for a second job in homecare in Toronto.
  • It is a flexible career since you can do it on a full-time or part-time basis.
  • The demand for caregivers will be high for many years to come.
  • Education requirements are not high, so it may appeal to someone who is new to the country or to one who wants to put off their post-secondary education for the time being.

A 2002 Statistics Canada study called Balancing Career and Care said that more than 1.7 million Canadian adults aged 45 to 64 were providing informal care to almost 2.3 million seniors with long-term disabilities or physical limitations.  Of those caregivers, most were employed and many felt they were being pulled in two directions.  Another Statistics Canada study called the General Social Survey, which is from the same year, said that 2.6 million people between the ages of 45 and 64 had children under 25 living with them, and that 27% of those people – or 712,000 – were also performing some type of elder care for aging relatives.  This is the so-called ‘sandwich generation.’

The history of healthcare in Canada over the past three decades demonstrates the obvious need and subsequent growth for home care services.  In 1970, the province of Ontario first established a publicly funded home care program, and by 1988, every province and territory in Canada had done the same.  According to the Canadian Home Care Association, the number of Canadians receiving home care benefits almost doubled from 1995 to 2006, and today there are an estimated one million Canadians receiving home care services.

In 2002, the Romanow Report examined Canada’s healthcare system, and described home care as the next essential service and “one of the fastest growing components of health care” in the country.  Two years later, the Romanow Report’s 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care said that “home care is an essential part of modern, integrated and patient-centred health care.”

Jim Beck, who is Director of Public Affairs at Home Instead Senior Care, recently spoke on the State of Aging in Canada at the Summit on the Mature Work Force.  He observed that:

  • Worker to retiree ratios will be cut in half.
  • In the next 20 years, Canadians older than 65 will increase from one in ten to one in four.
  • The needs of older citizens will shift medical care from treating communicable diseases to providing chronic care for the old.
  • Three- and four-generation families will become the norm.
  • The cost of caring for an older population will place enormous pressure on governments.
  • Present senior care systems will be overwhelmed, and the family will bear the burden.

About 90 percent of Home Instead Senior Care caregivers work part-time, and while no formal education is required, the company offers a multi-phased, safety and caregiving education program.  This involves case studies, senior illness information, stimulating activities, nutritional recipes, and tips for coping with stress, all of which are followed by testing.  In addition, the company offers an industry-leading Alzheimer’s training program to caregivers.  The Alzheimer’s training program is the first of its kind in Canada for non-medical caregivers.

“Our primary mission is to keep seniors independent for as long as possible, and that means making sure that caregivers have the tools they need to provide seniors with the highest quality of care,” said HISC owner.  “We offer resources and experiences that will benefit our employees in many future endeavors they might choose.”

Home Instead Senior Care has developed a caregiver career self-assessment to help people gauge whether caregiving is a good career option for them.  Anyone is fee to try the self-assessment

Do you have what it takes?

Home Instead Senior Care and Dr. Amy D’Aprix have prepared a list of questions to ask when searching for a professional caregiver:

  • Have they been adequately trained as a caregiver?  Dealing with people who suffer from such illnesses as dementia or Alzheimer’s is very demanding.
  • Are they experienced?
  • What are their limitations?  Some caregivers, such as independents, may not be willing to perform certain functions on behalf of seniors in need.
  • Can they pass a background check?
  • What about backup?  If the caregiver is sick, it is important to know that another professional will cover for them.
About Home Instead Senior Care

In Canada, Home Instead Senior Care has 21 independently owned locations in seven provinces. There are 11 in Ontario — eight in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as in Ottawa, Peterborough and Waterloo. Five are in B. C. — Kelowna, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, Victoria and White Rock. There are also locations in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Halifax and Charlottetown. Services include companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and escorts for errands and shopping. Home Instead Senior Care services are available at home or in care facilities from a few hours per week up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Home Instead Senior Care prepares its caregivers to look for signs of abuse in the elderly and provides caregiver training that is unmatched in the industry. Recently, Home Instead Senior Care received the Best Employer Award for 50-Plus Canadians from The Workplace Institute. Home Instead Senior Care also offers an Alzheimer’s training program to its caregivers; this training program is the first of its kind for non-medical caregivers.

Home Instead Senior Care is the world’s largest provider of non-medical home care and companionship services for seniors with more than 800 independently-owned-and-operated locations in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Portugal, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the U. K., Spain, South Korea, Austria, Finland and Taiwan. For more information about the company and its owners click here.

Mind games for the older brain

When it comes to staying sharp,
it’s use it or lose it

Remember the ’60s and ’70s, way back in the past century, when “playing mind games” had a distinctly unpleasant connotation? Of course you do. The problem is, if you’re like many of us, you can’t remember where you left your glasses 10 minutes ago.

And that’s why mind games are becoming a strongly encouraged activity for people as they age, including the Boomers and those older. Mental calisthenics are especially good for those who have retired, who have no daily mental activity at work to keep them engaged, who wish to stall what researchers call “cognitive decline.” The benefits of regular physical exercise are well-known. Now, the emphasis is on exercising the brain, giving it the mental equivalents of brisk walks, swims, bike rides, weight training, pushups, etc.

Indeed, playing mind games may not just be a way to help keep people mentally fit in day-to-day activities. In many cases, they almost certainly can help ward off Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia.

So, it’s no exaggeration to say mind games can be a matter of mental life and mental death.
The Alzheimer Society of Canada, which launched a two-year awareness program called “Heads Up For Healthier Brains,” believes that varying one’s routine and doing puzzles and memory games can help keep the disease at bay.

On the front lines of elder care in Canada, the message is the same. “Our caregivers, as well as our owners and staff across Canada, know firsthand the value of keeping the minds of seniors active,” says James Cooke, owner of a Toronto franchise of Home Instead Senior Care, which provides non-medical care services for seniors at 19 locations across the country.

While crossword puzzles –my main daily form of mental calisthenics — and other low-tech exercises such as Sudoku, Scrabble and bridge are still the favourite pastimes of ageing Canadians wishing to exercise their brains and also have some fun, computer games such as Brain Fitness Program 2.0, MindFit and Brain Age are gaining ground, among the older set.

Home Instead Senior Care suggests the following ways to help engage seniors in mind-stimulating activities:

  • Interactive video games, like those mentioned above, have become popular for all ages, but can be crucial for seniors. Even those who are intimidated by the computer can still play online and try simpler games. Help them get started by playing Solitaire or joining an online bridge game.
  • Board games offer a great avenue for mind stimulation. Encourage seniors to get a few friends together to join in the fun. Bridge and Scrabble tournaments for seniors are springing up around the country. Check with your local senior centre or encourage older adults to join a local bridge group. Hasbro recently introduced faster versions of classic board games, including Monopoly Express and Scrabble Express.
  • Bigger can be better, with large-format crossword and jigsaw puzzles great pastimes, especially for seniors who need a mind-stimulating activity when they are alone.

People should be encouraged to read all about it. Many older people maintain an interest in politics and current events. Reading newspapers and magazines beats the couch-potato TV approach to getting news by making the mind work.

The Alzheimer Society says 300,000 Canadians over the age of 65 have the disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

Researchers are hopeful that great strides are possible in better understanding the disease and helping to devise more effective treatments.

Meantime, individuals can help themselves (and those who care for them) by engaging in mental calisthenics on a daily basis, whether it be formal or informal. I think the formal approach is better for most because, like physical exercise, a daily routine demands consistent involvement and gets better results. Let the mind games begin.

William Hanley
Financial Post
Saturday, September 29, 2007