Saturday, August 24, 2013

Guest Post -- Helping Your Loved One in the War Against Cancer

Helping Your Loved One in the War Against Cancer - Written by Cameron Von St. James When someone you love is stricken with a life-altering illness, it is devastating for the both of you. Your whole world will be turned upside down as everything in life revolves around that person and managing the disease. I had a crash course on what it takes to become a caregiver. When my daughter, Lily, was only three and a half months old, my wife was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare and very deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It was supposed to be the most incredible time of our lives as we watched our beautiful baby grow. Instead, our lives became visits to doctors' appointments, horrendous treatments, and a time of great uncertainty and fear. Seven years later, we are blessed and my wife is cancer-free, but I haven't forgotten those troubled times. We have both learned valuable life lessons and now know that we are much stronger than we ever could have believed. Today I am an advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, reaching out to others who are going through a similar battle. It is my hope that I can help others in some small way. Here are my top five tips for caregivers to help them ride out the storm when illness strikes a loved one. 1. Remember to take care of yourself. You are going to be so caught up in your loved one's illness that you may tend to forget about yourself. This is the last thing you should do. If you are run down, weak, or make yourself ill, you will be of no help to anyone. Be sure to eat healthy meals and get exercise. Being physically active will make you stronger and help you to relieve the overwhelming burden of stress that comes with your loved one’s illness. You need to get your rest as well. There will be times when you just need to take a break. Don't feel guilty about this. You are human, and the more energy and rest you have, the better care you will be able to give. Turn to family and friends to relieve you when there is a need. 2. Take that helping hand and hold on tight. When the battle against your loved one’s illness begins, you are going to have an outpouring of love and concern. People are going to want to help you. Let them. This is not being selfish. You are helping them to deal with this troubling time as well. Accept offers of food and time. If someone volunteers to babysit or run the car pool, graciously say thank you. Turn to support groups, community centers, and any resources that are provided through the hospital as well. 3. Do the research. Become educated about the disease, the treatments, and what is to be expected after they are over. Learn about home remedies and give them a try. You have nothing to lose by being open-minded. Learning everything there is to know about your loved one's ailment will mean no surprises. You'll know what is coming, what is normal, and find out if there is anything you can do to make the journey easier. 4. Get organized. Your life is going to be difficult enough without having to worry about disorder and chaos. Get yourself a planner, a calendar, and a filing system. Keep all of your information about doctors' appointments, treatments, bills, and medications in one place. While you're at it, you'll probably want to simplify the rest of your life as well. This might be a good time to ask friends and family to help you get rid of any clutter to make it easier to keep up your home. 5. Get your priorities straight. You need to sit down and think about what needs to go to the top of the list in your life. You'll find that your loved one, any other family members in your household, and yourself matter most. All of the rest is going to have to come later. Don't expect everything to run smoothly. You need to go with the flow, make the most of good days when they come, and work your way through the bad days. Keep loving and hoping for a brighter future.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Community Care Access Centres

Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) is the link to care in Ontario. This arm of the Ministry of Health and Long Term care is your best chance for getting government paid for services. However, as our population ages and the demands on this system are stretched, qualifying for these services is becoming more and more difficult.

There are a number of service arms within the system but the gate keeper is the case worker at CCAC. They have access to the various services which include

In Home Care

Wound Care



Occupational Therapy

Speech Therapy

Long Term Care Placement

Convalescent Care

Adult Day Care

Palliative Care

It is important that you identify what services you require and people who live alone are considered more vulnerable and access to services may be greater.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Influenza and seniors

You may be wondering why a healthy, young person should consider getting the flu shot. Do it for the people that you love. Compromised immune systems, often the case with seniors, are unable to battle these bugs like a healthy person. If you get the flu, chances are you will pass it to them.

are spread by contact (person or surfaces)through droplets from sneezing or coughing
Can project up to 2 metres
live on skin for up to 10 minutes
live on surfaces for up to 48 hours
incubate up to three days meaning you are contagious before you know you are sick

What can you do??
Get the flu shot (always consult physician first)
Wash hands frequently
Wash down surfaces frequently
If you are sick, avoid visiting family until you are better

Help your loved ones by not getting sick.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Failing to provide the necessities of life

So much for honour thy mother and father. The recent incident of the 68 year old women left by her son and daughter in law, to live in an unheated room since November, is more then sad. I would like to hear what they were thinking when they made this decision. This is one of the worst elder abuse cases that we have heard about. I wonder how many more situations like this are happening right now.....

Monday, January 24, 2011

New medications give hope for those with dementia

Friday I attended a luncheon with speaker Dr. Sharon Cohen discussing some exciting breakthroughs in the medications for those who suffer from dementia and hope for all of us in the future that may fall victim to this devastating diagnoses. It is great to know that recent discoveries have led to the identification of a clearer diagnoses and also treatment options that both slow and, in some cases, reverse the memory loss associated with the illness. Ask your doctor about the human trials being done and ask when the new medications will be available.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dating and seniors – encouraging companionship

The loss of a life long companion leaves a hole in the life of the remaining spouse and can leave adult children unsure of how to fill this gap. Even the most dedicated children are hard pressed to find time in their busy lives to see their parent as much as their parent may want. It should not be a surprise when two people, who have both faced the loss of a spouse, find each other and begin to build a new foundation on their common experience. With good health and financial stability, it can be the best time of their life and this new relationship can provide both companionship and boost confidence. Emotions surrounding this budding relationship can be mixed as everyone tries to maintain loyalty to their deceased family member and allow their remaining parent to continue to live the life they want. Time does heal all wounds. Embrace this new opportunity and with time and encouragement, a family, looking for happiness for their parent, will accept this new person.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Elder Education

Recently there have have been care conferences and Zoomer Fairs popping up all over the city. Although, illness and aging, are still not a topic that some are comfortable facing, these events are very informative and can save all of us time and money. From how to source care for aging relatives to services and products that allow you to stay in your home, this is vital information that could allow you to take control of what seems like, an uncontrolable situation. More information can be found at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Appling for long term care placement changes

As of July 1st, 2010 the process for applying for long term care has changed. Families who would like to consider placing a loved one in long term care need to contact their local Community Care Access Centre (enter postal code to find the right location) and complete an application which is now moving from paper to electronic form. Other changes include that 5 homes can now be applied for at the same time (previously the maximum was 3 homes). A word of warning, make sure that the homes selected are somewhere that your loved one really wants since, should a bed become available at any of these homes, you will be strongly encouraged to take it. Not doing so can lead to a 6 month penalty. Also, under the new long term care act, Retirement Homes can apply for temporary licencing and bring long term care residents into their homes. Details of how this will work and who will fund, still to come.