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Caregiver Connector

Editor's Message

Issue 8 – Winter 2011

  • Editor’s Message
  • Caregiving over the Holidays
  • Flu and You – Prevention is Best
  • Sites Worth Noting
  • What’s Going on?
  • Caregiver Appreciation Card

  • Editor’s Message

    Welcome to the eighth issue of VON Caregiver Connector! The holiday season is upon us. We have devoted this newsletter to Caregiving over the Holidays and the Flu and You

    Holidays can be a busy time for families. Learn how to simplify this holiday season. If you know a caregiver, why not offer help. You can use the Caregiver Appreciation coupon below to include in your holiday card.

    The flu season is another reason to take care this holiday season. Learn about your risk to this common virus and how to protect you and the person you are providing care to by getting the flu shot.

    We have also included a few new Sites Worth Noting that have come across our inbox. We hope you find them useful in your caregiving role.

    So a little advice this holiday - keep it simple, take care of yourself, get informed and give thanks!

    On behalf of the VON Caregiver Connect Team we wish you and your family a memorable holiday season!

    Bonnie Schroeder, RSW, MSW
    Director, Caregiving
    Editor, VON Caregiver Connector

    Caregiving over the Holidays

    The holiday season can be a wonderful time to meet with friends and family. For those caring for a friend or family member, the season may come with special challenges. In addition to the tasks of caregiving, the extra energy needed to take part in social celebrations can be taxing.

    Take stock of how much energy you have and how much you can expend. It may mean that you have to attend fewer functions. It may mean that you can’t bring that special dish, which you’re famous for, to the pot luck. It may be a time to draw on resources you don’t normally use. For example visiting family members may be able to take the person you’re caring for on a special outing. The key is to be aware of what your body is telling you.

    Also, try to Arrange respite care early. It’s a busy time for everyone, whether you are asking a neighbour or a health care professional. Putting in a timely request can ensure you get a reserved spot in their datebook.

    The holiday season can be a good opportunity to Communicate with family members and to gain support from them. Friends and relatives may not realize the impact that caregiving is having on your life. Give yourself permission to discuss your feelings both positive and negative about being a caregiver without blame. Many of us are hesitant to share our feelings for fear of causing worry or conflict. You may find that simply sharing your experiences may make the load lighter.

    The holidays are traditionally a time that center on family celebrations and traditions. Being unable to celebrate in the same way you always did can be a loss in itself. But it’s an opportunity to relive those past celebrations and traditions with conversations and photographs. It may be a good opportunity to Start a new family tradition, such as gather the family for a home-movie night. While you may not be able to recreate past traditions, it’s a good time to create new ones or to pass on the responsibility to younger family members.

    Don’t forget to think about your own needs and to Make up your own holiday wish list: lunch with your child or grandchild, a gift certificate for a massage, a bestselling mystery novel— whatever will bring you enjoyment and renewal.

    The December holidays may be one of life’s ways to brighten winter, to create opportunities to gather with friends and family and to enjoy good food. What’s important is to give yourself permission to simplify the season, to be aware of your limits and to care, not only for others, but also for yourself.

    Author: Josie Padro, Writer/Researcher, North Shore Community Resources Family Caregiver Support Program, Supporting Caregivers Across the Lifespan Project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program. The opinions in this article are those of the author.

    Other Resources:

    Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, Holidays and special occasions

    Family Caregiver Alliance (US), Caregiving and the holidays: from stress to success!, .

    Today’s Caregiver (US), Holiday Stress and Caregiving,

    American Cancer Society, Caregivers: How to Handle the Holidays,

    Flu and You – Prevention is best

    Editor's Message

    What is the flu?

    Seasonal influenza (flu) is a common infection of the airways and lungs that spreads easily from person to person. In Canada, flu season usually runs from November to April. Most people recover from the flu in about a week. However, flu may be associated with serious problems such as pneumonia. These problems can be quite serious for infants, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions.

    How to stop the spread of the flu?

    The best ways to stop the spread of flu viruses are simple:

    • Wash your hands often
    • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve
    • If you are sick, stay home
    • Get the flu shot – it is the safest and best way to protect yourself and the people around you from the flu

    Did you get your flu shot?

    The flu virus changes rapidly. Each year the vaccine changes to protect against new flu virus strains. That is why you need a flu shot every year. It is best to get the flu shot early – between October and December. Seasonal flu shots are especially important for the following persons as they are at higher risk for complications from the flu:

    • Children aged 6 to 23 months
    • Anyone living in a nursing home or chronic care facility
    • People aged 65 years and older
    • Adults and children with chronic conditions such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, anemia, cancer, weak immune systems, HIV, or kidney disease
    • Children and adolescents on long term aspirin therapy
    • Healthy pregnant women
    • Health care workers
    • Family caregivers and other family members who have contact with the above at-risk groups
    • Those who are in the above at risk groups and are traveling to areas where the flu is circulating

    Why is it important for caregivers to get the flu shot?

    As a caregiver, you could potentially spread the flu to those you are caring for. If people who are older or have chronic health conditions get the flu, they have a higher risk of developing serious problems. To get your flu shot, talk to your health care provider, pharmacy, your local public health unit or your employer to see if they are offering flu shot clinics.

    Where do I go for more information?

    Understanding Influenza (Public Health Agency of Canada)

    Flu Prevention Checklist (Public Health Agency of Canada)

    Influenza Immunization (Public Health Agency of Canada)

    Influenza (the “flu”) - It's Your Health (Health Canada)

    Share this information with family and friends. It is important that everyone knows these basic flu facts.

    Sites Worth Noting - December 2011

    Generic Family Caregiver Resources

    The New Brunswick Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat released an updated Caregiver's Guide: Practical information for caregivers of older adults (September 2011).

    Family Caregivers Unite! with Dr. Gordon Atherley is a internet radio program for family caregivers. Dr. Atherley is a retired doctor living in Canada. In retirement, he became an activist for family caregivers. (in English only)

    The Caregiver Compass is a new resource, offered by Saint Elizabeth through its Care to Know Centre Caregiver Compass provides families and individual with tools and resources to help them provide care for their loved ones. (in English only)

    The Centre for Studies on Human Stress March 2011 Mammoth Magazine was on The Stress of Caregivers.

    Editor's Message

    Going Home: A Family Caregiver's Guide to Transitioning from Hospital to Home is now available! Going Home is filled with tips and suggestions on discharge planning, creating support teams, legal issues, relating medical and hospital language, and contains many questions to ask, checklists to complete and forms to understand. It is a valuable tool to get caregivers the information that they need, when they need it. The Guide is available at no charge, through the Toronto Central CCAC and Toronto area hospitals. (in English only)

    The Family Caregivers' Network Video Series includes over 60 YouTube video interviews with family caregivers created by the Family Caregivers’ Network Society Board President Rick Hoogendoorn in Victoria, British Columbia.

    Dementia Caregiver Resources

    The By Us For Us© Guides from the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program, University of Waterloo website, are a series of guides researched, designed and created by a group of persons with dementia and/or their partners in care. The guides are designed to equip persons with dementia with the necessary tools to enhance their well being and manage daily challenges.

    Two new By Us For Us© Guides now available (in English only):

    • Living and Celebrating Life Through Leisure (Person with Dementia)
    • Before/Early Diagnosis: (Partners in Care)

    Teens and parents! When Dementia is in the House is an educational website for children living with someone who has dementia. The new online resource is hosted and managed by the Canadian Dementia Knowledge Translation Network (CDKTN) (in English only).

    The Alzheimer Society of BC developed a new checklist - Ready-Set-Plan! This checklist will help you to decide whether you and your family have dealt with the financial, legal, health care and personal planning issues.

    Stroke Caregiver Resources

    The Canadian Stroke Network released two new resources:

    Getting on With the Rest of Your Life After Stroke the popular stroke recovery guide with new sections on aphasia, tools for caregivers, updated activity logs and personal recovery stories.

    A Family Guide Pediatric Stroke includes information on the signs and types of pediatric stroke, issues around rehabilitation and recovery and advice from kids to other kids and parents to other parents.

    Other Health Condition Resources

    People living with complex chronic illnesses and episodic disabilities need help to access and navigate the healthcare system and beyond. Health Gateway is an Ontario-focused, accessible web-based e-library, for people living with complex chronic illnesses and episodic disabilities. The website connects individuals to resources that meet their needs. It is also a tool for healthcare and other professionals to support their clients. (in English only)

    Editor's Message

    Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada has a new look to their website. The website offers information, care and support for individuals living with a brain tumour and their family.

    Diabetes Care Community is a new Canadian social network and information resource with a focus on families and friends of people living with diabetes. (in English only)

    Editor's Message

    The Canadian Gastrointestinal Society website - – has information you're looking for on digestive diseases and disorders.

    Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada is a newly founded organization that was established by patients, caregivers, parents and family members. The new website has information on the condition including sections for patients and caregivers as well as an online community with access to discussion forms and email groups.

    Legal Resources

    The British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General amendments to legislation relating to representation agreements and enduring powers of attorney came into force on Sept. 1, 2011. Representation agreements and enduring powers of attorney are two types of legal documents which allow individuals to plan for the possibility of future incapability. These are tools that allow an individual to name another person to manage their personal and health care needs and financial matters in the event they are not able to do so on their own. For more information on the forms, advanced directives, resources and the legislation go to: Incapacity Planning - Representation Agreements and Enduring Powers of Attorney.

    What's Going On?

    January is…

    Alzheimer Awareness Month

    February is…

    Heart Month

    International Childhood Cancer Day (February 15)

    I support a caregiver…

    Caregiver Appreciation

    Caregiver Appreciation
    This holiday season give a caregiver in your life the gift of time
    In recognition for all you do, I want to do something special for you!
    I want to...
    ___ help out around the house ___ bring your family a meal
    ___ run an errand/pick up groceries ___ offer a drive to an appointment
    ___ shovel snow/mow the lawn ___ spend time with ______________
    (person requiring care)
    ___ other (please write your own ideas below)

    Offer Expires: never
    Card adapted from: Caregiver Out of Isolation Program, Seniors Resource Centre of Newfoundland and Labrador


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