Dealing with declining health

Dear Nurse Kris;

My parents are on a limited income, and my mom needs help with getting up and around for the day. It’s taxing Dad immensely to help mom out. He is struggling to take on the household tasks, the cooking, the shopping etc. He wasn’t brought up to know how to do these things; he has had to learn how to do them, as mom has become sicker and less capable. What kind of help is out there for Dad? I see him getting more tired as time goes on. He’s very devoted to mom, and I wish I could help but I only can on the weekends. I am helping my own kids through college, so I’m financially not able to really contribute to helping. What do I do?

Signed, Concerned in Kelowna


Dear Concerned;

You and your parents are facing a very common problem. Many seniors struggle with activities of daily living. Our wonderful geographic location and fabulous weather make it a mecca for older adults to retire to, from other parts of Canada. Statistics indicate there is a higher population of older adults in Kelowna than in any other city of similar or larger size in Canada. It is said that Kelowna is now, what the rest of Canada will look like in 15 years time.

A very good system is in place for identifying the needs of folks of any age, who live in the community, who are struggling with day to day personal care and household responsibilities. Interior Health Authority has primary responsibility for assessing folks and identifying if they can live at home safely, and if they need help or support at home. They can also determine if any cognitive decline is present… a little is usually okay, but at a certain point, if a person cannot make safe decisions about their day, or how to function in ways that are safe (ie. not opening the door to strangers, or leaving the stove on), then alternate housing needs to be considered.

If they do require assistance with personal care, meals, housekeeping etc, the Interior Health Authority assessing nurse will identify how much help is required, how much help they can provide, and the costs of this care to your parents. For folks with a high retirement income, the cost of receiving household and personal support services will be roughly the same as caregivers from a private agency. (Advanced Home Care Solutions is an example of one of these agencies).

Interior Health has a special program in place called “Home First”. It is intended for folks living at home in the community, who meet the criteria and have agreed to have their name on a wait list for Assisted Living. The program is designed to keep older adults living at home safely, who are at risk for falls, and who are wait listed for Interior Health funded Assisted Living apartments. There can be lengthy waits for these.

If your parents have a low income, I highly recommend you call Interior Health Authority, Community Care division at (250) 980-1400 and ask for Central Intake. Have your parents’ postal code ready, and then you’ll be directed to the appropriate nurse, who has responsibility for the area your parents live in.

The benefit to using Health Authority caregivers, is that it can be a low cost solution. Others, not so much. The detractor to using the Health Authority, is that the arrival time of the caregivers is not set in stone. The client is given a window of time (between 8 AM and 10 AM for example). There will be many different caregivers, who will all ask the client the same questions as they orientate to the client's home and preferences. For clients who prefer consistency, this may not be the best solution.

A private agency can also send a Nurse to assess your parents. The agency caregivers will have a wider breadth of tasks they are allowed to perform than the Interior Health Authority caregivers. Only the necessary few are assigned to the client so that warm, therapeutic relationships can quickly be built and the clients routine and preferences quickly known. They arrive at the exact minute they are scheduled for. For those with higher retirement incomes, the costs can be quite similar to Health Authority caregiver costs.

Interior Health is the gatekeeper for all funded Assisted Living and Residential Care (nursing home) beds. A family member cannot just call up the care facility to place mom or dad in a funded bed. Private pay beds are an option at most facilities if you choose to go this route, however. As I’ve stated many times before, folks have much better quality of life if they receive care in their own home, as long as safety issues are not a deterrent (risk of falls, leaving the stove on, letting strangers in the house).

Your parents may also benefit from having a Professional Care Manager (a nurse with advanced education), look in on them on a regular basis. Check around with different agencies, or Google “Professional Geriatric Care Manager” to check this out.

I hope I’ve given you some helpful information.

Nurse Kris


Nurse Kris encourages questions from readers and can be reached at:

[email protected] or 250 862-2273


More Ask Nurse Kris articles

About the Author

Kris Stewart is the owner, CEO and Clinical Director of Advanced Home Care Solutions Inc, based in Kelowna. She is a well-known, well respected Registered Nurse with advanced nursing and business degrees; she is also an inveterate health care entrepreneur, establishing health care enterprises in Canada and the USA. She is a sought after public speaker on health care and seniors matters, as well as workplace dynamics, and has won several national awards for her work in health care. She is a distinguished Alumni of Thompson Rivers University. Her professional mandate is to ensure that private health care options remain accessible and affordable for all.

Kris can be reached at:  [email protected]

Advanced Home Care Solutions:  http://www.advancedhomecaresolutions.com/about-kris-stewart


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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