Q) My company’s HR department is advertising eldercare seminars. I’m not looking after my parents yet, but they are getting older. Should I attend?
Eldercare workshops and seminars are an excellent way to learn about the resources that are available to you and your parents, and the issues that might surface. Reading this magazine is a good start, too. There’s a lot to think about—things such as meal preparation, shopping, home maintenance, finances, doctor’s visits and so on.
It is much better to have the information already, rather than to be scrambling for ideas and assistance when you’re in crisis. So yes, it would be a good idea to attend the seminars. You might also want to ask your parents about their wishes ahead of time.
Q) My husband and I would like to take a vacation this summer. Is it possible to arrange a short-term caregiver for my mother? How do I prepare her for our departure?
As the primary caregiver of a loved one, a vacation is always well deserved. Planning well ahead of time works best. Meet with the registered staff that will be arranging care for your mother in advance to help you to determine the best possible fit for your mother, both professionally and personally.
Arrange for some short visits of a companion nature before you are gone so you, as well as your mother, can get to know the people who will be taking over while you’re away. After all, your ability to relax and not worry while you are away is just as important as your mother’s comfort.
Provide a contact number of someone who is not on vacation so they can answer any non-emergency questions, leaving you to enjoy your time away. Finally, have a great vacation! Rested and relaxed caregivers find their jobs the most rewarding.
Q) We’re looking at palliative care options for my dad, who has terminal cancer. How does care differ between the hospital, a hospice and our home?
All palliative care options work to relieve the pain and suffering of the terminal patient and improve his or her quality of life. This care can be provided in the hospital or long-term care facility, or at home. The amount of involvement of family members will vary in each case.
In the hospital, you will be able to help with feeding and clothing your dad and helping him exercise, if you wish, or you will be free to simply sit with him. Family members will be most involved in the homecare setting, possibly giving medications, bathing and providing companionship. Caring for someone who is dying at home can be overwhelming, so it will be crucial to get as much support as possible for yourself and your family members, as well as for your dad, if you choose this option. Most provinces have some form of government-funded homecare related to hospice care that can help the family with all that needs to be done to care for someone dying at home. In addition, many homecare agencies have specialized palliative care programs that can be privately funded to provide respite for the family.