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Are You Afraid of Home Care?

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 28 November 2000 00:00

Too many Canadians extol the virtues of home care for their elderly friends and then reject the suggestion for themselves even when they complain about being able to manage on their own. Others voice wonder at Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so getting into such a terrible state living alone and then gradually and stubbornly put themselves in the same situation.

Fear of losing one's independence clouds some Canadian's judgement. This apprehension, coupled with ignorance of their rights and of the choices open to them, leads some older individuals to live as prisoners in their home. They gradually do without more and more of the comforts of life until "making do" becomes their way of life. However, an admission of need is not grounds for shuffling you off to "The Home."

When you have been active and independent all your life, asking for help to change light bulbs, do up buttons or fix meals can be blows to self-esteem. Many people are reluctant to rely on the kindness of others. However, properly-delivered home care services reinforce independence and deliberately avoid creating dependency. These services are designed to preserve individual autonomy and dignity while encouraging self-sufficiency. By removing stresses and reducing isolation, home care services can restore peace of mind and put the focus back on the pleasures in life.

For-profit and nonprofit home care programs coordinate in-home medical care, personal care and supportive services. Medical services include physiotherapy, foot care, nursing and outpatient treatments. Support services cover personal and housekeeping needs such as house cleaning, meals-on-wheels, personal assistance dressing or bathing, security checks, counselling and friendly visits. In some communities, services are available in a variety of languages.

The availability and affordability of home care are important issues in deciding whether it is practical and preferable for you to stay in your current home as you age. Investigate all the options open to you before you need them. Armed with this knowledge, you can also help your parents and older neighbours. The alternative is to wait until an emergency arises or an irreversible need forces you into a decision — perhaps a poor one.

Now that the Canadian federal election is behind us, Canadians must put pressure on our "new" government to see that high-quality, carefully-monitored home care services are equally accessible across the country. Home care is not a panacea for homeowners and tenants who need assistance to remain independent in their homes, but without a home-support system that Canadians can rely on, living in your own home as you age will be an option reserved for the wealthy.

Editor's note : PJ Wade's latest book, Your Guide to Caring for Your Aging Parents will be out early in 2001.

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PJ Wade

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic speaker and author of 8 books and more than 1800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

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