Aging is a fact of life, and it affects every family, and it isn’t easy to know the extent to which their aging will affect them or how it will affect us, especially when providing care. Not every senior requires extensive care or help as they get older, but it does happen. When deciding to provide care for an aging loved one, it is usually because you are capable and have the time and resources to provide care. However, there could come a time where you begin to question if you can still do this and if they need more professional help.
Managing the changing needs of an aging loved one is difficult, and a continuing decline in physical or mental health makes it even tougher to know if you can manage. It is ok to ask if you are no longer qualified to do this, and it is ok to ask for help and consider other options. Here are some things to consider before deciding to ask for help or seek professional senior care.
The Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Life
Essentials are necessary to the dignity and the physical and emotional wellbeing of our elderly loved ones. It is important to ensure the daily living requirements are met, but as basic needs increase, you begin to ask if it is still manageable. Some of the basic activities may include:
- Functional mobility
- Bathing or showering
- Personal hygiene
- Toilet hygiene
Unfortunately, impaired mobility and health issues make it difficult for them to take care of their basic daily needs, resulting in the caregiver ensuring they are met. When you begin to invest in equipment and accessories to help them continue doing daily tasks, it requires more investment in space, time, and finances. When you begin to feel completely overwhelmed with maintaining to meet their basic needs, it could be time to consider professional help.
Additionally, some of the instrumental activities of daily living are as follows:
- Preparing meals and cooking
- Home maintenance and cleaning
- Shopping and buying what is needed
- Running basic errands
- Paying bills and managing financed
- Managing prescription medication
- Digital or written communication
The overall wellbeing of your aging loved one depends on many of these activities. When these become obstacles or difficult to manage, it is up to the caregiver to help and manage it for them. It is not always easy to arrange the proper help—take an honest look at where your elderly loved one needs help. When it becomes obvious that they require help with most or all of the activities mentioned above, it could be too much to manage.
Consider Current Living Arrangement and the Living Arrangement of your Aging Loved One
A big reason why caregiving for an aging loved one is difficult is because of living arrangements. For example, there are circumstances where they move in with the caregiver, and the space may not be adequate. Other circumstances involve the caregiver having to travel to the home of their loved one, and their home may not meet the needs for what care is needed.
Generally, many seniors choose to live at home and stay independent as long as they can. However, when maintaining certain activities of daily life becomes difficult, there are usually upgrades needed for the home. Caregivers are often responsible for having these upgrades done, especially if their aging loved one is unwilling to relocate. When home upgrades become too much to manage and too costly, it is time to re-think care options.
The living situation should not be detrimental to the caregiver or the elderly individual’s physical or mental health. Options like independent living, retirement homes, or assisted living are specifically designed to alleviate some of the burdens of living without assistance. The goal should be to live comfortably and maintain your health physically and mentally.
Keep in Mind the Financial Situation of Yourself and your Aging Loved One
There are significant financial impacts if deciding to be a caregiver. The choice you make to support the wellbeing of an aging loved one may impact your financial situation. Moreover, the finances of your aging loved one, along with government support, may not be enough to provide all the basic essentials of life.
Every province offers additional financial support, but it may not be enough to offset the cost of upgrading the home to meet the need. The other end of the spectrum is managing their finances and becoming responsible for that. Financial responsibility on top of all the other responsibilities could be too much. It is important to keep all this in mind when deciding if you are still capable of providing care.
Senior Health Care in Canada
There are millions of Canadians caring for an aging loved one, and senior health care in Canada plays a significant role in assisting with that care. According to a senior health care report from 2016, the aging Canadian population is expected to create an increase of about 40% in cancer cases by 2030. The result is over 270,000 new cases of cancer in 2030. Nearly three in ten Canadians are family caregivers, and the number of seniors expected to need help or care will double in the next 30 years. However, Canada’s health care system was never met to meet the challenges of our aging population.
According to the report, Canada’s Medicare system was established to deal largely with acute, episodic care for a relatively young population. As of 2020, the system struggles to properly care for patients, many of whom are elderly, struggling to manage complex and ongoing health issues. Approximately 75% to 80% of Canadian seniors report having one or more chronic conditions.
Additionally, it is estimated that 2.4 million Canadians aged 65 and older will need continuing care, both paid and unpaid, by 2026, which is a 71% increase since 2011. In 2014, provincial and territorial health expenditures were estimated to represent approximately 34% of total government expenditures on health care. The increasing need for senior health care will extend to not only the healthcare system but also family caregivers.