What kind of care do I need?
Let’s face it. This is a very hard chapter of life. From a lifetime of independence and the resources to help our children or others get on their feet, now it may be time to admit you have needs, too.
So, let’s tackle the first fear because it is unfounded: the fear of having to go to a nursing home. Fact: “Nursing Home” is an old, out-of-date term. In Ontario, there is a wide variety of care and lifestyle settings under the umbrella of Senior Living: supportive home care, dedicated seniors apartments, licensed Retirement Homes and government funded Long-Term Care facilities.
If your health and wellbeing need minimal support then staying in your home may be an option. For example, are you having difficulty balancing or moving? Perhaps balance or mobility issues may prevent you from safely bathing or dressing or toiletting. Ask your doctor to set up an assessment by the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network). This government funded agency can pay a company to send a Personal Support Worker into your home. This level of care means all other areas that are not supported by the LHIN are in place. Can you look after your home’s cleaning, your laundry, your meals, your shopping, keeping up with organizing and paying your household bills (utilities, insurance, property taxes and the like)? This assessment will also provide you with an objective evaluation about whether or not you can continue to live in your home safely with these supports.
Supportive care also means you have a solid social life in place because the brief, irregular contact of a Personal Support Worker is not enough on its own. Whether you are introvert or extrovert by nature, all of us need more or less social engagement in order to maintain our mental health. Isolation kills the soul. What are you doing to maintain your social connections? Isolation quickly gets tangled with depression. Depression often leads to poor eating habits. Who wants to cook for one, especially after a lifetime of enjoying regular company at meals? Poor nutrition leads to a whole host of health complications, physical and mental.
Dedicated Seniors Apartments help to address social isolation while balanced with the privacy of one’s own living space. Because of the common age range social connections are often kindled. If you are feeling overly cut-off and isolated in your own home then this may be a solution. Personal Support Worker provided by the LHIN Home and Community Care can come in to seniors apartments because it is your home. You may want to ask about the social life and activities that are active in a seniors building you are thinking about. All are independent, goodwill organizations and depend on the residents to make it happen. The downside is rent. Some people are not comfortable renting for a long period of time after the pride and investment of home ownership. Others, like the smaller footprint and the consolation that the building maintenance is looked after by the rent.
Retirement Homes offer the next step up of care: physical, social and as a reward for a life well lived. We look in more detail at retirement homes in the next article.