There may be a point at which you might need to begin to consider options for help within your home if simple tasks - be it personal care or household chores are starting to become more difficult. Options available to you will vary depending on your financial resources as well as physical location (those in large urban centres will have more available to them than those living in smaller rural communities).
For those who require some sort of in-home assistance, a first step would be to contact your Home and Community Care Support Services office or HCCSS. A referral can be made by your physician or you can contact your local office yourself and request an appointment. You can find your HCCSS by visiting www.lhins.on.ca. An assessment with a case manager will determine if you are eligible for service which can include: nursing, personal support, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, social work, and nutritional counselling. Should your needs be greater and involve the need for placement in a long-term care home, your HCCSS can coordinate that as well. There is no cost for the services they provide as long as you have a valid Ontario health card but the services you receive may be limited and may not meet all of your requirements entirely. Should you wish to supplement those services, or if HCCSS services are not what you require, there are often other community agencies that can supplement those services or offer other ones to seniors in their communities for a fee. The cost varies depending on the agency, its funding source, and policies.
Services in seniors’/community agencies vary depending on the agency but may include: home help, congregate dining, transportation, telephone checks, personal care, counselling, social activities, assistance with shopping, meals-on-wheels, and others. To locate your local community or seniors’ agency you can ask your HCCSS or visit www.211ontario.ca. Alternately, you can dial 211 from your telephone to connect to Ontario’s Information and Referral Service for Community and Social Services that is gradually being established across the province.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs offers a range of services for qualified individuals as well. Usually, Veterans know if they are eligible for services however if there is a question one only needs to contact the DVA to enquire.
There are also private companies in many places that offer services and products specifically geared to seniors. For some, private services might be the most reasonable option and might provide unique resources that are not available in the public realm of options in your area. There are, for example, many services that offer private companions or private homemakers for a fee; there are online grocery services, or grocery stores that offer delivery, and there are many new and unique kinds of in-home assistive devices. Many different types of private services/products can be located in online and paper resource directories, and we do have several as well, at www.seniorcareaccess.com/resources.php.
For those who live alone and don't require care but may need the security of knowing that help is close by, a private telephone alert system might be all you need to feel safe in your own home. There are several companies that offer a device that hooks onto your phone that allows for emergency contact and in certain situations, EMS dispatch if a button is pressed or there is no contact with you in a certain time frame. This allows for independence and peace of mind. Most of these companies are privately owned and operated though some might be connected through local hospitals or health centres. To locate one that works best for you speak with your LHIN care coordinator, health practitioner, local seniors’ agency or search the internet or phone book for ‘Personal Emergency Response Systems’ or ‘Medical Alarms’ for the options available in your community.
For those who are receiving care at home but have caregivers that need a break, there are day programs a few days a week in many communities for those with certain conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s) and respite care options - both short-term away from home and in-home - there are private services available and public options for this depending on the situation. For example, many retirement residences will offer the option of short-term respite or vacation stays for caregivers who need a break or are going away. For an extensive selection of retirement communities in Ontario visit our housing directory. As well, long-term care homes have a short-stay option available that can be arranged through your HCCSS.
For caregivers managing seniors with special needs at home, there is the option of Caregiver Support Groups in many communities which provide the opportunity for people to share their experience with others in a similar situation. If you are interested in finding such a group for yourself, it would be best to first enquire through your local seniors’ agency. Often these groups are associated with these agencies and are run by the social workers affiliated with them.
For those that are fine in their own homes but would benefit from social stimulation with other seniors, there are many communities with senior centres that have social or drop-in programs, congregate dining, planned events/outings, or day programs. To find your local seniors’ centre you may wish to contact 211. You can also look up seniors’ clubs offering events and social opportunities throughout the year by visiting www.oacao.org (Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario).
In short, there are a host of available resources for seniors living in their own homes whether they require care, minimal assistance, or simply desire social interaction with others. Finding resources has become easier with the internet and various websites geared toward information provision. Take some time to research what is out there. You might be surprised at the options available in your community!