The Importance of Caregiving to Quality of Life

By David Bernstein,

President, Caregiver Services Ltd.

As we age, most of us want to enjoy retirement in a comfortable, familiar setting – home. Sometimes, however, we need help. Often a family member or loved one can be there. If you’ve received care you know how critical that support is to your quality of life. If you have been there for a loved one, you know how emotionally exhausting being the provider can be. Sometimes, it’s necessary to have assistance from a professional caregiver or personal support worker (PSW). Whoever provides it, caregiving adds tremendous quality to the lives of everyone involved.

Living in a retirement home provides many benefits to help us live independently and get the support we need when necessary.  But even in these environments our circumstances change and additional support is needed beyond what the retirement home can provide.

One of the most critical situations we face is hospital stays. Although our health-care system can provide great care and our family’s support is critical, to ensure that we or our loved one is consistently advocated for and engaged often requires additional support.  PSWs and caregivers are ideally suited to provide this support as well.

Professional support from a caregiver or PSW can take many forms:

  • A three-hour visit, one day a week, for laundry, grocery shopping, companionship, and to drive you to an occasional appointment or for banking.
  • A three-hour visit, three days a week in a retirement home to help with exercises, go for a walk or grocery shop.
  • A three-hour visit each morning and evening to assist with bathing, toileting, medicine reminding, meal preparation and generally getting ready for and closing out the day.
  • An eight-hour daily visit to assist with personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminding, and to help with mobility and general safety.
  • 12-hour overnight care in a hospital while our loved one recuperates from surgery.
  • 12-hour daytime care in a hospital to ensure our loved one is advocated for and engaged when we can’t be there.
  • 12-hour overnight palliative care to ensure somebody is there at all times, giving family a chance to sleep.
  • 24-hour live-in care for when family members travel or vacation.
  • 24-hour care divided into two, twelve-hour shifts (a day shift and overnight shift) for an individual with significant mobility issues, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia requiring constant monitoring.
  • 24-hour live-in care where the overnights are not critical but assistance is needed during the day. Knowing someone is there at night can help give everyone involved peace of mind.

The goal is to understand your needs first and design a schedule with an experienced caregiver or PSW who best fits those needs.

Caregiving is about having the patience and empathy to help people in their most vulnerable states. Great caregiving respects and dignifies the lives people have built and lived, and strives to enrich their day-to-day experience wherever possible.

David Bernstein is President of Caregiver Services Ltd., a Toronto-based organization providing private home, hospital and facility care and 24-hour care. They can be reached in Toronto at (416) 994 6096 and in York Region at (905) 642-9494 or www.caregiverservices.ca.