Today's Edmonton Journal headline read, "Caring for parents weights down Canadians"

I could have told you that! 

I visited my mom yesterday and by the time I returned home, I had cried my eyes out until they were blood-shoot red and stinging.

During this visit, each time I thought I was helping her out, for example, suggesting she step closer to her walker to gain balance, she retorted with a negative comment – "How did you get so smart?!"

Or, when I suggested she stay focused on her current activity, like getting into the car, when she was half in and half out, she shifted her focus to the pedestrian walking by, greeting her, wanting to chat, and then out of the blue, screeching out, "See this?! No one is helping me get into the car!"

What the *&%*( is happening here?

Nothing new – that's the norm, Nancy White, manager of home and continuing care development at the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported.

"Taking care of a senior can be hectic and it can be really scary for the caregiver. There is some stress because they have to help with medications, and that can be intimidating for another who has no experience with the illness," White said.

Some stress!  I'd say a lot of stress! Medications are just a small part of the total care.

Snapshot looking at understanding what's going on in Canadian home care

130,000 Canadian seniors were researched on experiences with coping with informal care and helping other seniors with Alzheimer's among other conditions. The reports are the "first snapshot."

Results showed that only 2% of Canadian seniors living at home didn't have support from a spouse, adult child, friend or neighbour. The majority received "critical" help at home with daily activities such as bathing, shopping and eating. 

Yep, that's us, me and my mom – the majority!

She fit into the 75% of seniors who are not married (widow) receiving care from a adult child. (as well as from the adults in the Senior Lodge where she calls home)

Ultimately, as the numbers continue to rise, stress continues to expand.

Apparently, as a senior's difficulty with memory, understanding and decision-making causes more hardships, caregivers are 3 times more frustrated when the senior needing care has Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

If the stress builds, family members providing support could become unable to continue in their role, which could lead to institutionalization, potentially for the home care client – and the caregiver, if he or she is also a senior, this report warned.

Families taking care of seniors at home should be aware of programs available to help, including organizations that send care workers to the home to give others a day off.

In fact, a day off, conveniently named, "respite" is the number one issue plaguing caregivers.  But more on that another time.

In the mean time, it helps to have a support network in place.  Here in the Edmonton, Calgary, and throughout Alberta regions, a non-profit association, Alberta Caregivers Association has a new program available to help support caregivers who want to tap into their self-care.

It's called COMPASS for the Caregiver.

COMPASS helps caregivers balance their own needs with the demands of their caregiving role. The topics include handling difficult emotions like guilt and resentment, managing stress, communicating assertively, avoiding burnout, and finding time for yourself.

Find out more by clicking on this link.

To your health, wealth and peace of mind,

great job today!


P.S.  Mom, I love you! And I really need a COMPASS!


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