Canada’s population is aging. By 2056, a full quarter of the Canadian population will be over the age of 65. And already, between 2002 and 2007, the number of family and friends providing personal care to elders increased 670,000.
But caregivers pay an emotional and physical toll for providing care for elder relatives and friends. Increasingly, Canadians are looking for alternative ideas for long term senior and elder care.
In Toronto, new services such as Elder Care By Design are springing up to help families care for their elders. Elder Care By Design helps seniors do what they want to do most: live in their own home even as they age. Unlike other programs that help care for seniors at home, Elder Care By Design (and similar companies) is not a home health care company. Rather, it helps families coordinate and organize the many complex issues seniors have to navigate – health matters, legal matters, financial matters, etc. Staff members help seniors fix things up around their house, care for pets as seniors become unable to care for them, and educate seniors and their families about long term care issues.
Another company in the Toronto area providing similar services is called Caring Matters. Sherri Auger, a certified Elder Planning Counselor, founded Caring Matters after losing her mother and having to place her father into a long term care facility.
Caring Matters and Elder Care By Design are just two examples of Canadian companies seeking to provide an alternative to notoriously depressing long term care facilities.
Personal support workers (PSWs) are another option for long term care for seniors and elders in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada who want to stay at home. PSW care is also increasingly popular because it prevents elders from having to go to a nursing home or move in with their younger relatives.
But buyer beware: not all companies who provide personal support workers are credible. In Toronto, Health Minister David Caplan has come under attack for giving contracts to unscrupulous PSW companies for political reasons. Ironically, the criticism came from the PSW labor union itself, called the Service Employees International Union, which represents nearly 50,000 PSWs in the Toronto area.
The union is also concerned that not all PSWs are being properly trained to care for elders. According to the union, there is “no common definition of PSW work or what competencies a PSW should possess.”
Toronto residents who are aging or who have aging relatives should start planning now for how to provide long term care for their elders. Due to medical advancements, seniors are living longer than ever, so long term care is just that: long. It is possible that an elder could require at least some care from their relatives for 10, 15, or even 20 years. Given this, the earlier a family can plan for long term care, the better.