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Five ways to be a healthy caregiver

Caregiver SOS

Avoid falls

March 2017 www.homeandlongtermcare.ca

Medication safety What caregivers need to know See page 5


‘It’s not always Alzheimer’s’:

One couple’s story of getting the ‘right’ diagnosis DAVID, A KIND, QUIET AND INTELLIGENT MAN,

connected to his family, with lots of friends, and very active in his community, started to become withdrawn and apathetic. His wife Wendy knew something wasn’t quite right. The Hughes sought help early, but much time passed before they found out that David has Lewy body dementia. Wendy became an advocate for her life partner. David was initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. As she did more research, she wondered about the symptoms. David’s memory loss fluctuated, rather than declined. And what Wendy noticed most was not so much memory loss, but that his personality had changed significantly.

After several years of persistence, David was finally diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. Their story is a reminder that getting a diagnosis can be a long and uncertain process. Know the symptoms of dementia. Get help as soon as possible. And play an active role in seeking out the best healthcare options for you and your family.

(Hamilton Halton) and made a point to seek out new friends. Socializing gives her a much-needed break and allows her to better care for David.

David’s new status came as somewhat of a relief for the couple and Wendy continues to learn as much as she can about Lewy body. Now they have access to the right treatments and support, and she and David can get on with their lives.

Each year 25,000 Canadians are diagnosed with dementia. Wendy believes everyone needs to learn more about Alzheimer’s and other dementias, – “Awareness can only lead to better understanding and acceptance of this disease.”

“You can’t do this on your own, and I’ve realized it’s perfectly okay to ask for help,” says Wendy. She has reached out to her local Alzheimer Society

Visit www.alzheimer.ca to learn about dementia in all of its forms. While there, check out helpful resources and an Alzheimer Society near you. LC

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Home & LongTerm CARE | March 2017


ontents March 2017

5 Save money on prescriptions

Keep moving: Avoiding falls

2 4 13

9

18

Cover story: Medication safety

Be a healthy caregiver

Money matters of cancer

Alzheimer's: Getting right diagnosis Editor’s Note 5 questions to ask about medications ns

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Caregiver SOS

16

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Caregiver stress

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Editor’s Note 610 Applewood Crescent, Suite 401 Vaughan Ontario L4K 0E3 905.532.2600 www.homeandlongtermcare.ca EDITOR

KRISTIE JONES

editor@hospitalnews.com

ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE

DENISE HODGSON

denise@hospitalnews.com

PUBLISHER

STEFAN DREESEN CREATIVE DIRECTOR

LAUREN REID-SACHS WHILE EVERY CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY is unique, there are some commonalities. One is medication safety. This one is universal to every caregiving experience as most people who require care are also on some sort of medication(s) to manage their condition(s). Medication safety is also one aspect of caregiving that could mean life or death for your loved one. This month’s cover story offers tips to equip caregivers with the knowledge they need to protect their loved one from potentially catastrophic medication mishaps and errors. Other articles focus on how to spend less on prescription medications and questions caregivers and patients should be asking their health professional about medication. With an aging population comes an increase in chronic conditions that require treatment with prescription medication. These days it is not uncommon for a senior to be on upwards of five different medications. One of the most important things you can do for your loved one is to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to keep them safe from medication mishaps. It is our hope that this month’s issue will do just that.

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Home and Long Term Care is published for consumers who are supporting and/ or involved in home care or long term care. It is available free of charge from distribution racks in hospitals across Ontario. The statements, opinions and viewpoints made or expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of Home and Long Term Care, or the publishers. Home and Long Term Care and Members of the Advisory Board assume no responsibility or liability for claims, statements, opinions or views, written or reported by its contributing writers, including product or service information that is advertised. Changes of address, notices, subscription orders and undeliverable address notifications, and inquiries can be sent to: info@homeandlongtermcare.ca Subscription rates in Canada for single copies is $35.00 per year.

Kristie Jones Editor Home & Long Term Care

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Home & LongTerm CARE | March 2017

Canadian Publications mail sales product agreement number 40065412. From the publishers of Hospital News, reporting on health care news and best practices for over 25 years.


Medication

safety

What caregivers need to know By Melanie Ramos

AS A CAREGIVER, medication safety is vital. Keeping a list of current medications is an important first step to help the person you’re caring for avoid drug reactions, overdoses, or complications. You can review the medication list for the person in your care with a pharmacist to identify if there are any drugs that should not be taken together. The pharmacist or doctor can also help educate both of you about potential medication side effects. To avoid overdoses and make sure drugs work like they are supposed to, it is important that the person you care for takes medications at the right times and in the right dosages. Medication safety also extends to over-the-counter products. In addition to any medication that is prescribed, it is important to also share information about any over-the-counter medication including naturopathic medicine and vitamins that are being taken. Ontario has a medication safety program called MedsCheck. This is a program that allows you to book a free annual 20-30 minute meeting with your community pharmacist to discuss medication safety. Continued on page 6

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Medication safety Continued from page 5

Other pharmacies also have their own medication safety programs to help you review medications and give advice on how they should be taken and stored. You can purchase special dosettes at a drug store. Dosettes have compartments to organize all the medications that need to be taken each day. Pharmacies can also prepare blister packs to reduce the confusion of which pills to take when and to act as a prompt that the medications have been taken. Old and expired medications can also pose problems. As part of your medication safety checklist it is a good idea to go through all medications on a regular basis and properly discard those that have passed their expiry date. 6

Home & LongTerm CARE | March 2017

Medication safety checklist for home • Check all medications, including over-the-counter medications, for expiry dates and dispose of them appropriately; do not allow anyone to take an expired medication. • Do not put out-of-date or unused medication in the garbage or down the toilet or sink; check to see if your pharmacy has a drug recycling program that disposes of unused or expired drugs in an environmentally safe manner. • Ensure the person you care for takes the medication as prescribed; don’t let them stop taking a drug part way through the course of treatment (unless they are having a serious adverse reaction) without first discussing it with their doctor.


Medication safety and managing medications for someone else can be complicated, and it is important to get it right.

• Check medications picked up from the pharmacy to ensure they are correct, have the right name on the prescription, and are what the person is used to taking (i.e. the pill is still small and pink not large and green); follow up with the pharmacy regarding any medication discrepancies. • Medicine should be taken only by the individual for whom it is prescribed – never take prescription medicine that wasn’t prescribed for you, even if you have the same medical condition. • Encourage the person you care for to take their medication where there is enough light to read medication instructions and to see the medication.

• Keep medication out of the sight and out of reach of children. • Consider using a dosette or blister pack provided by the pharmacy. • Report any adverse reactions to any medication, even over-the-counter medications or supplements, to the doctor right away.

Medication safety when you are with the doctor • Be sure the doctor knows all of the medications the person you are caring for is taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal remedies. Continued on page 8

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Medication safety Continued from page 7

• Be sure the doctor knows about any allergies or adverse reactions they have had to any medication in the past. • If the doctor writes the prescription by hand, make sure you can read it, and ask for clarification if needed. • Ask the doctor to write down on the prescription what the medicine is used for – not just “take once a day” but “take once a day for high blood pressure.”

Medication safety when you are with the pharmacist • Take advantage of the service offered to review medications with a pharmacist when you pick them up, and also ask for written information so that you can refer to it at a later time. • If you have any questions about the directions on

your medicine labels, be sure to ask – medicine labels can be hard to understand (for example, ask if “four doses daily” means taking a dose every six hours around the clock or just during regular waking hours). • Whenever possible, try to use the same pharmacy so your pharmacist can keep a record of all your medications and give you the best advice. Medication safety and managing medications for someone else can be complicated, and it is important to get it right. If you feel nervous or unsure of your ability to help the person you are caring for with their medications, seek help from trusted health professionals and other people in your network, and don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider, the doctor, or the pharmacist for their assistance and advice. LC

Melanie Ramos is an Editor for Elizz.com. This article is reprinted with permission.

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save money Four ways you could

on your prescription medications

By Kathleen O’Grady

AS CANADIANS, WE ARE PROUD of our universal healthcare system, which provides publicly-funded essential doctor and hospital care based on need and not ability to pay. Unfortunately, our health system falls short when it comes to prescription medication.

Canadians also pay some of the highest prices for prescription drugs in the developed world, thanks to a patchwork system of negotiating drug prices that undermines our collective clout.

Canada is the only industrialized country in the world to have a universal health system without also providing a publicly funded pharmacare program to cover the cost of prescription medication outside of hospitals.

The result is that many Canadians can’t afford the medications their doctors prescribe for them – as many as one in five according to a national poll – and some may even be skipping them altogether, with possible catastrophic health consequences.

What this means is that the majority of Canadians pay for their prescription drugs privately – either through private insurance programs or out-of-pocket.

So saving even a few bucks per prescription could add up to a big savings over time. Here are four ways you could save money on your prescription medication. Continued on page 10

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Canada is the only industrialized country in the world to have a universal health system without also providing a publicly funded pharmacare program to cover the cost of prescription medication outside of hospitals.

Save money on your prescriptions Continued from page 9

1. Ask your doctor if you should (still) be on the medication Never stop a prescribed medication without consulting your doctor because reducing or stopping a medication altogether could have serious health consequences. However, it is worth asking your doctor if you need to be on the medication in the first place. Campaigns such as Choosing Wisely Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Medical Association, have released suggestions to help avoid unnecessary medical tests and treatments that the best available evidence shows do not enhance care. For example, taking antibiotics for a viral infection is ineffective. Other organizations, such as the Deprescribing Network, warn against over-medicalization, particularly for seniors. Often medications that were once useful, no longer need to be taken, and may even be causing unnecessary harm. It is always useful to review your medications regularly with your doctor to make sure you are on the lowest dosage required, to weigh the benefits and risks – and to consider if you need the medication at all.

2. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a generic instead of a name brand medication More affordable generic prescription drugs have identical medicinal ingredients as their more expensive brand name counterparts. This means that the

cheaper generic drug has the same benefits, risks and side-effects as the brand name, and has gone through the same quality standards testing with the government. The only differences may be in the non-medicinal ingredients. And, of course, the price, which can be substantial. Newer medications typically won’t have generic equivalents – because of drug patent protections in Canada – but most health conditions can be treated with cheaper generic drugs.

3. Shop around for less expensive dispensing fees and price check the cost of the medication When you purchase your prescription drugs at a pharmacy, check your receipt and you’ll see you are charged a professional ‘dispensing fee’ each time you buy your medication. The fee charged can vary widely from pharmacy to pharmacy – by several dollars – so it can add up quickly. Be sure to compare dispensing fees for the pharmacies in your area. Also, in some provinces, even the price the consumer pays for medications can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, so do a quick price check to get the best deal. If you have taken the drug for a long-time and, on recommendation from your physician, know you will be taking it for a long-period still, getting the prescription filled less frequently can also save money on repeat dispensing fees.

Kathleen O’Grady is the Managing Editor of EvidenceNetwork.ca and a Research Associate at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University. She is co-editor of Why We Need More Canadian Health Policy in the Media (available for free download from Apple, Kindle and Google and on EvidenceNetwork.ca).

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When price checking, keep in mind that you can find pharmacies in many locations now – inside medical centres, grocery stores and even big box stores – and they all have licensed pharmacists. Pharmacists can be good sources of information so if you find one that takes the time to provide consultation and advice, weigh the quality of care you receive with the dispensing fee.

If you are still unsure, ask your provincial member of parliament for help pointing you to programs you may be eligible for. You may also want to ask them why Canada doesn’t have a national pharmacare program yet while you are at it. LC

4. Check for subsidized programs Each province, and some federal programs, have subsidized or partially-subsidized coverage of medicines for certain groups of people, such as those with disabilities, those under certain income levels, seniors, native populations and refugees – so check to see if you are eligible. Guidelines have been newly created for physicians in Ontario, Manitoba, BC and other provinces to help connect patients with government programs, including prescription drug coverage – so ask your doctor for more information. Non-profit organizations, such as those focusing on a specific disorder or disease, or those for seniors, often have resources to help connect patients with government programs.

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Five Ways to be a

Healthy Caregiver LOOKING AFTER a disabled or chronically ill loved one can quickly overshadow your own life and health. But taking care of your own physical and emotional needs is the best thing you can do for yourself and the person you are caring for. Think of it this way – you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help others. Stay healthy and:

Get some R & R You’re always going to have something on your to-do list that just can’t wait. You might be able to keep a gruelling schedule for months, even years, but if you aren’t taking care of yourself, your body will eventually force you to slow down. Recharge before you get ill: take time to do something just for you.

Take control of your health You’ve taken your kids and your mom to their annual exams – but what about you? Are you up-to-date on preventive health screenings? Be proactive. Prepare for your appointments by bringing questions you have for your doctor as well as a list of the medications and supplements you’re taking. Discuss any physical symptoms you have and any changes in your life (e.g., stress, weight issues, etc.) to give your doctor a complete picture of your health.

Meditate Find a serene, private space, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If your mind drifts, refocus on your breath. Meditation can help you settle your mind, relax your nervous system and improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Add fresh, organic greens to your diet Eat lots of salads and load up on raw veggies daily with help from a juicer or blender. By stabilizing your blood sugar with high-potency greens, you’ll prevent illness while boosting your immune system and your energy levels.

Balance your whole health Scientific research indicates that good physical health includes healthy relationships, a healthy professional life, creative expression, spiritual connection, a safe and comfortable environment, financial stability and a positive frame of mind. Try to cultivate constructive habits in all these aspects of your life. Remember: nurturing yourself first will not only make you feel better, but will make you a more patient, valuable caregiver to those who are counting on you! For more caregiving tips and information visit www.familycaregiving.ca LC

This article was provided by the communications team at VHA Home Healthcare.

12 2 Home Home e & LLongTerm o gT on gTer erm m CA C CARE RE | Ma Marc March rch h 20 2 2017 17


5 questions to ask about your

medications By Carol Nguyen and Certina Ho

MEDICATION ERRORS CAN OCCUR at transitions of care, such as hospital discharge, following-up with a specialist or family doctor, and updating medication regimens at the pharmacy. Incidents often occur when there are medication changes that are not properly communicated among healthcare providers within the circle of care of the patient.

The opportunities for the patient and healthcare providers to use the tool in this case could have been at the moment of discharge from the hospital, at the family doctor’s office, and at the community pharmacy.

The “5 Questions to Ask About your Medications” is a tool designed for patients and healthcare providers to use as a guide when discussing changes in medications. These questions will help both patients and caregivers start a conversation about their medications and become knowledgeable about their medication therapy management.

Continued on page 14

Below is a patient case scenario that is used as an example to illustrate the application of this tool. “A patient admitted with uncontrolled hypertension had been discharged from hospital with changes to her blood pressure medications. She was sent home with a new script for Tiazac®XC 120 mg once a day and advised to stop her metoprolol which she had been taking before admission. She filled the prescription and started the new medication. One week later, she had a follow-up visit with the family doctor, who was unaware of the recent changes in hospital and increased the dose of metoprolol, which had previously been stopped. The metoprolol prescription was filled. The patient was re-admitted to the hospital a few days later due to a low heart rate and it was discovered that she was taking both Tiazac®XC and metoprolol. Her metoprolol was discontinued; she was stabilized and discharged home on Tiazac®XC.”

For the purposes of this demonstration, the questions will be applied to the patient when she was discharged from the hospital the first time.

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Medications Continued from page 13

1.. CHA 1 CHANGES? • Have a any medications been added, stopped or change changed, and why? −“Yes. Your Yo metoprolol has been stopped and we are starting a new medication called Tiazac®XC. Your startin blood pressure p was not well controlled on the dose of met metoprolol you were on. Therefore, we have switched you to a different agent that will hopeswitche fully work w better for you.”

2.. C 2 CONTINUE? • Whi Which medications do I need to keep taking, and why? −This would be the opportunity to ensure that you (as the caregiver) and the doctor are on the same page about which medications they need to keep taking. nee

3.. P 3 PROPER USE? • How H do I take my medications, and for how long? lo “Let’s review the new medication – Tiazac®XC – −“L it is to be taken once daily at bedtime and it w will be continued long-term, as long as it is w well-controlling your blood pressure and you a are tolerating it well.”

4. MON 4 MONITOR?

Additional Resources: • 5 Questions To Ask About Your Medications https://www.ismp-canada.org/ medrec/5questions.htm • MyMedRec App http://www.knowledgeisthe bestmedicine.org/index.php/ en/app/

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• How will I know if my medication is working, and what side effects do I watch for? −“You want to meet your blood pressure target of less than 140/90 mm Hg and to avoid the medication’s side effects. Side effects of Tiazac®XC include, for example, dizziness, lightheadedness, and edema.”

5. FOLLOW-UP? • Do I need any tests and when do I book my next visit? − “Yes, you need to follow-up with your family doctor in a week to check your blood pressure and to make sure that Tiazac®XC is working for you.”


These questions will help both patients and caregivers start a conversation about their medications and become knowledgeable about their medication therapy management.

Also remember that it is also important to keep your loved one's medication record up-to-date. The record should include medications and changes made, and also the patient’s drug allergies, vitamins and minerals, herbals or natural health products, and any other non-prescription medications, such as over-the-counter medications. Keeping an up-to-date medication list is one way to keep track of changes and this also helps patients communicate the changes to healthcare providers in their circle of care.

Lastly, initiate a dialogue with your healthcare providers to assess for the possibility of reducing or stopping any of their medications in order to optimize medication therapy management. If every patient can ask about his/her medications at hospital discharge, during visits to the doctor’s office and the community pharmacy, a significant number of medication incidents can be prevented. LC Carol Nguyen completed a PharmD rotation at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) in 2016; Certina Ho is a Project Lead at ISMP Canada.

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Caregiver SOS

My friend told me she received a free walker from the government for her parents. What does she mean? Dad may need a walker. Signed, Prefer free

There has been a lot of development in mobility equipment and choices in vendors. One of the most upsetting things as a therapist is to see people purchasing equipment that is not right for them or for their situa-

tion. Considerations include the type of equipment and the environment where it will be used. Mobility aids come in many forms; from canes, crutches and wheeled walkers to manual and power wheelchairs and scooters. Finding the right one for your given situation is important. This is not always simple. As to your question: There is indeed a government program called the “Assistive Devices Program.” The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care provides this service for people on long-term disability who will need a device for six months or longer.

Nira Rittenberg is an occupational therapist who specializes in geriatrics and dementia care at Baycrest Health Sciences Centre and in private practice. She is co-author of Dementia: A Caregiver’s Guide, available at baycrest.org/dacg Email questions to caregivingwithnira@ baycrest.org. This article originally appeared in The Star.

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The usual process is to have a therapist assess you, complete the application and then submit on your behalf.

It is not meant to be used for someone who wants an assistive device for a trip, social outing or occasional use. To apply, you must be a resident of Ontario with a valid health card number. You need to be assessed by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who is registered as an “authorizer.” The funding is based on the rules laid out in the government plan. You and your device will be measured, options suggested and uses of recommended devices explained. The usual process is to have a therapist assess you, complete the application and then submit on your behalf. The program pays 75 per cent of an approved price. You/your parent, pay 25 per cent. The remaining 25 per cent can sometimes be covered by third parties like March of Dimes, DVA or an insurance company (a medical prescription is usually required for the latter), but usually an individual pays. The client is the one who chooses the authorizer and vendor in their own community and these individuals often work both in the private and public sector. Those working in the private sector charge a fee for the assessment. Similar to when you buy a car, you’ll want all the specifications and information about your device prior to purchase.

priate mobility device should meet the client’s specific needs, be comfortable and assist with maximizing his/her safety and function, independence and overall quality of life.” There are now many amazing options and types of assistive devices spanning all categories, so take your time before and do your due diligence before choosing. The equipment, once received, is yours to deal with, care for and be responsible for. You can get reassessed for a new device if your condition has changed; which can happen with certain neurological conditions (i.e. Parkinson’s and MS). We are lucky to have this financial program, but make sure you use it wisely for everyone’s sake! LC

You are encouraged to choose a vendor and shop around. Services may vary and, like any other business, it is key to have a setup that works for you. Ask around. Does the vendor have a good service record? Do they return repairs quickly or loan you a replacement? How long have they been in the business? If you disagree with the assessment provided by a therapist, you have the right to a second opinion. The wheelchair category covers a variety of types and seating systems and the only way to choose correctly is by making an informed decision. Alanna Weill, OT and private authorizer, says: “The approMarch 2017 | Home & LongTerm CARE 17


Keep Moving:

Get down and

avoid falls By Barbara Grant

THE WEATHER IS SO WILD these days you never know what to expect: sleet one day; melting snow the next. Sun. Rain. Hail. Drifts.

But there is much we can do to reduce the risk of falling and maintain our enjoyment of life through all seasons.

One thing is certain. It’s treacherous out there. The sidewalks and asphalt are slippery. Indoor walkways are wet from all the muck tracked in. It’s dangerous and it’s scary because there is one thing for sure we know we do not want to do.

1. Get down so you can get back up again.

We do not want to fall. Falling is one of the primary causes of serious injury in older populations. Falls can often lead to a downward spiral of health concerns resulting in admittance to long -term care facilities.

One of the reasons we are scared to fall down is because we cannot get back up again! When was the last time you pushed yourself up from your stomach, crawled on the floor or stood up from the ground? A combination of fear, lack of strength and lack of mobility keeps us from getting down on the floor or ground on a daily basis. Having the mobility and courage to get down to the ground safely and find your way back up again informs and protects your body if you do fall.

Barbara Grant is the Founder and Director of Retrofit Pilates in Toronto. She can be seen weekly on Rogers television as the host of Shape Up with Barbara Grant. http://www.retrofit.ca/barbs-blog

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2. Train your balance. Balance is your body’s ability to maintain its centre of mass over its base of support. This is achieved by complex systems of information received by the brain from the eyes, muscles, joints and vestibular system. Increased sensory perception and proprioception requires stimulation to all systems. Practicing simple balance drills can increase your mental function and your ability to receive and process information. Balance is also a part of gait, the way you propel yourself forward as you walk. Better balance and gait mechanics means you are more likely to “catch yourself” if you begin to fall.

3. Increase your strength. Find an exercise you like and do it every day to build muscular strength and endurance. Swim, hike, dance, do Pilates, lift weights. Whatever! The human body responds to exercise even in advanced age and frailty. By increasing your overall strength

and endurance you not only decrease your risk of falling, but you may also decrease the extent of your injuries if you do fall.

4. Stay alert. Guard against falls by monitoring your environment and avoiding certain situations. Making safe choices is always smart: • Stay away from icy stairs and wet floors. • Get assistance by using walking sticks, ski poles and shoe grips. • Ensure passageways are well lt. • Use familiar routes as much as possible. Of course there is only so much we can do to mitigate the risk of falling without negatively impacting quality of life. Do we really want to stay inside all winter because we are scared of slipping and falling? That seems like a tough sentence. So get out there and get moving. Do what you can to get active and stay strong, balanced, mobile and alert. LC

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Bayshore HealthCare has been providing health care services to Canadians since 1966. As a ƚƌƵƐƚĞĚƐŽƵƌĐĞĂŶĚŽŶĞŽĨĂŶĂĚĂ͛ƐĞƐƚDĂŶĂŐĞĚŽŵƉĂŶŝĞƐǁĂƌĚǁŝŶŶĞƌĨŽƌϵĐŽŶƐĞĐƵƟǀĞ LJĞĂƌƐ͕ǁĞŽīĞƌŽǀĞƌϲϬŚŽŵĞĐĂƌĞďƌĂŶĐŚůŽĐĂƟŽŶƐĂŶĚϰϬĐůŝŶŝĐƐĂĐƌŽƐƐĂŶĂĚĂ͘

ISO 9001

Quality Management System

Registered Company

March 2017 | Home & LongTerm CARE 19


The

financial challenges of cancer By Jessica Picton

WHEN YOU ARE DIAGNOSED with cancer it can be hard to focus on your health when you are too busy worrying about your finances. Many Ontarians are unprepared for the financial struggle that can accompany cancer diagnosis. Medication expenses, childcare, hospital parking, long distance phone bills, new clothes from a weight loss or gain are just a few of the costs associated with a cancer diagnosis. These can be overwhelming, especially when you consider that most cancer patients experience a drop in income. 20

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If it were not for the Money Matters case manager and Money Matters program at Wellspring, I don’t think I would have been as confident about the financial decisions I made. It has been a tremendous help knowing that Wellspring remains just a few clicks away. I now feel I am setup comfortably for the future and will not have to struggle to make ends meet. - Janice G., Wellspring Member

This is where the Wellspring Money Matters program can help. The only program of its kind in Canada, it allows cancer patients who are too sick to work to meet with a professional Money Matters case manager for a confidential, one-onone assessment, free of charge. Stefanie* knows firsthand how cancer can affect your finances. A mother of two in her early forties, Stefanie was working part-time when she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. With a new family to support, and an exhausting treatment regimen that left her unable to work, Stefanie and her husband didn’t know how they would make ends meet. Many people believe that the government will be there to provide for them when they become too sick to work and need financial support to pay their bills. Others dip into their savings or turn to family to help them endure the new financial reality. Many more don’t know where to turn for help. Money Matters case managers work personally with cancer patients to help navigate through the maze of income replacement programs and create an individualized plan with options and resources. A Wellspring Money Matters case manager informed Stefanie about Canada Pension Plan disability benefits and helped her to fast-track her application. Instead of waiting 4-6 months for an answer, Stefanie received her benefits within a single month. Because Stefanie had no idea she was eligible for CPP Disability prior to meeting with Money Matters, she also received a retroactive payment amounting to one year’s worth of benefits because of her delay

in applying. This significantly helped Stefanie pay for her child care for her two children while she continued with her treatments and surgeries. The newly launched Money Matters Online program is there to help even more people dealing with situations just like those Stefanie faced. The program is available for cancer patients across Ontario. Sessions are held over Zoom, a free and easy-to-use, video conferencing software. This online platform will help Wellspring to better serve cancer patients with financial worries who are unable to visit a Wellspring centre in person. Over the course of this confidential one-on-one assessment, the case manager will review personal information and discuss specific questions and f inancial concerns. People living with cancer can connect privately with a Money Matters case manager from the comfort of their own home and receive the same personable, warm and welcoming support that Wellspring is known for. Wellspring’s Money Matters case managers have years of experience working in the field of vocational rehabilitation. They have assisted those with illnesses and disabilities, enabling them to return to employment. The case managers at Wellspring have extensive experience and understanding of income programs on an intricate level, allowing them to help patients with complex cases. Like all Wellspring programs, the Money Matters online program is offered free of charge. For more information visit wellspring.ca/mmonline LC *Not her real name.

Jessica Picton is a Communications Specialist at Wellspring.

March 2017 | Home & LongTerm CARE 21


NEARLY 30 PER CENT OF CANADIANS are regular caregivers to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability, or problem related to aging. While caring for a loved one can bring a sense of satisfaction, it can also have negative consequences for the caregiver.

stress Caregiver

Dealing with the challenges and avoiding burnout By Susan C. Jenkins

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It can have an impact on the caregiver’s physical and emotional health, personal finances, professional responsibilities, and time available for other activities. If caregivers don’t make their own wellbeing a priority, they won’t be able to care properly for their loved one, and everyone suffers. The stresses of caregiving can lead to anxiety, depression, and burnout. It is important to be alert to signs of possible trouble. It is important to watch for the signs of caregiver burnout and to take action right away. Yeah, okay, great. Sounds good, but how do you do that when you’re already juggling all you can handle?

Finding balance Health experts have identified four main areas for caregivers to focus on: • Become an expert. Learn all you can about the condition you are dealing with. That will help you understand what the person you are caring for is experiencing and will make it easier to anticipate problems and not take negative reactions personally. • Learn coping strategies. Talking about your challenges can help. Consider seeking out a therapist or counsellor with the specific skill set to help you. If that’s not an option, talking with a religious leader, another family member, or a close friend can help you unburden yourself. • Practice stress reduction techniques. Meditation, yoga, exercise, music or art therapy, and participating in hobbies can all help reduce stress levels. • Take advantage of social support. You can’t do it all yourself. You are not Wonder Woman or Superman. Ask for help. Reach out to family members, friends, and volunteer organizations. Respite programs can give you a break, and government services may be available in the form of financial support.

Empowering yourself Feeling powerless can lead to depression, and it is the main contributing factor to caregiver burnout.

Remember that you aren’t powerless. You may not be able to control the circumstances you are dealing with, but you can control your responses to them. • Focus on those things you can control. You may not be able to cure your loved one’s condition, but you can learn how to understand it, and you can ask for help in dealing with it. • Celebrate small victories. Your care is making your loved one more comfortable and secure. That is something to be proud of. • Feel appreciated. If your loved one’s condition makes it impossible to show gratitude, imagine how the person would have reacted to your care if he or she were still healthy. And remember, you can’t take care of anyone if you aren’t well, so make your own wellbeing a priority LC SIGNS OF CAREGIVER STRESS • New or worsening health problems • Anxiety • Depression • Feeling irritable or increasingly resentful • Overreacting to minor annoyances • Difficulty sleeping • Trouble concentrating • Drinking, smoking, or eating more • Neglecting responsibilities • Cutting back on leisure activities SIGNS OF CAREGIVER BURNOUT • Having much less energy than you used to • Catching many colds and/or the flu • Constant exhaustion, even after sleeping or taking a break • Neglecting your own needs – either because you don’t have enough time or you don’t care anymore • Your life centres around caregiving, but you get little satisfaction from it • Trouble relaxing, even when help is available to you • Increasing impatience and irritability with the person you are caring for • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

Susan C. Jenkins is a freelance writer and editor specializing in medicine, pharmacy, and healthcare. She can be reached at susancjenkins@gmail.com.

March 2017 | Home & LongTerm CARE 23


Come together to celebrate caregiving heroes on National Carers Day

APRIL 4, 2017 LIVE MUSIC · REFRESHMENTS · INSPIRATION

RSVP at bit.ly/Heart17RSVP

Home & LongTerm Care 2017 March Edition  
Home & LongTerm Care 2017 March Edition