Alzheimer Society of Ontario | Blog | My Mothers' Caregiver
An elder care roadmap & observations from the journey
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Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Just a phone call away...


I still remember the night we decided to take my delirious mother to emergency. Convinced there was no other option and no cavalry coming over the hill to save us, we really didn't see any other options. That's why I was so excited to see the development of this latest resource for caregivers. If that night, I could have picked up the phone and said, "Hey, this is what's going on. What do you think?" Wow, that would have been really nice. So, it is with that sentiment that I share this brand new resource.

Help really is only a phone call away:

"Caring for someone with dementia is a 24-hour a day job” say the Alzheimer Society of Ontario and the Ontario Dementia Network Toronto, ON, October 8, 2013 – The Alzheimer Society of Ontario and the Ontario Dementia Network are working with Telehealth Ontario to help family caregivers prevent crises when regular services are closed. Funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Telehealth Ontario resources have been reviewed and strengthened specifically to support family caregivers of persons with dementia. These services will help to provide better care to people with dementia being cared for in their home by caregivers. Telehealth Ontario will connect people from across the province with specifically trained nurses to offer dementia support, advice and referrals 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

"Family caregivers deliver the vast majority of care for the 200,000 persons with dementia in Ontario in their own homes,” says Kathy Wright, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County and a Co-Chair of the Ontario Dementia Network. "With agitation, confusion and wandering often occurring in the early evening, Telehealth Ontario’s after-hours support is a vital tool for caregivers managing stressful situations when organizations like the Alzheimer Societies are closed.”

"Individuals with dementia are twice as likely to visit emergency rooms and if admitted are much more likely to be stuck in hospital, blocking beds while awaiting long term care,” explains Dr. William B. Dalziel, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Ottawa and Co-Chair of the Ontario Dementia Network. "Telehealth Ontario adds to the resources so needed for individuals with dementia and their caregivers. Research shows that caregivers with education, counseling and the availability of Telehealth Ontario services could keep their loved ones with dementia at home 1.5 years longer.”

"We’re strengthening Telehealth Ontario services in order to provide more support to those caring for loved ones with dementia,” says Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "By supporting family caregivers at home when they need additional help, we are helping to provide the right care, at the right time and in the right place.”

Caring for a person with dementia at home is a difficult task and can become overwhelming at times. "My personal ‘melt downs’ were often during long weekends when I did not have access to agencies….

"Some of my darkest memories are of those ‘after-hours’ needs,” shares a family caregiver.

Telehealth Ontario nurses will receive targeted training in dementia protocols to support the service. During regular business hours, callers will be referred to the local Alzheimer Society for help. Access to after-hours services for dementia caregivers is available by dialling Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 after regular business hours, and during weekends and statutory holidays.
"Telehealth Ontario is helping build a robust province-wide support system specifically targeting the information and support needs of the families and friends who are currently spending 100 million unpaid hours caring for Ontarians with dementia,” concludes Kathy Wright.

For more information, or to book an interview with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, the Ontario Dementia Network or Telehealth Ontario, please contact:

Pascale Guillotte
Director, Marketing and Communications
Alzheimer Society of Ontario
416 847-8922

About the Alzheimer Society of Ontario
The Alzheimer Society of Ontario and its network of local Societies across the province offer Help for Today through programs and services for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and Hope for Tomorrow…by funding research to find the cause and the cure.

About the Ontario Dementia Network
Established in 2009, the Ontario Dementia Network’s mandate is to provide leadership to the regional dementia networks in Ontario in the development of a comprehensive and well developed system of service delivery, education, and public policy in the field of dementia.
About Telehealth Ontario
Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential telephone service Ontarians can call to get health advice or general health information from a Registered Nurse.


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Living the Lived Experience


Life can take some funny twists and turns.

I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to share about my latest twist and turn. I wrestled with mixing my professional-self and my Sharon-the-blogger-self until I finally decided – “Why not?”

Last month, I signed on for the task of creating a Virtual Lived Experience Network, working with the Alzheimer Societies for the South Eastern Ontario region. Without getting into the nitty-gritties, I am being contracted to help create a voice for people living through the experience of dementia and other responsive behaviours (either themselves or as care partners).

As I said, this is a very funny twist and turn in my life. It is also an emotional one because for so many long months when my mother struggled with those early stages of dementia, delirium and her future was unclear – I had no voice at all…and she most certainly didn’t either.

I don’t think it is possible to overstate how vulnerable a time that was. It is one of the most frightening memories I still carry from our ordeal – that no one seemed to be listening.

It is with great optimism and perhaps a sprinkle of idealism, that I now believe: people really were listening.

It is true our medical system is a confusing maze. At times health care services don’t work together or share each other as resources. Families are left standing the the hallway shaking their heads, not knowing what door to walk through. But, the more involved I get, the more I see that people are listening. More and more services are collaborating, working together, and doing their best to offer person centered and family directed care.

I was able to attend a local example of this recently at the unveiling of a new partnership name and logo for “Cross Roads to Care” – the co-location of the Alzheimer Society of Belleville, Hastings, Quinte, Community Care for South Hastings, Providence Care and VON. In December, all theses services will be under one roof in the Bayview Mall in Belleville, Ontario.


Translation: when a person in need of care or their family shows up looking for services, there is a good chance they will go to the wrong door first. Before, these services would have to send them away – now they can re-direct them down the hall!

Imagine how much better of beginning this will give to people in need of care, support and answers. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

So, I’ve been a little busy lately. (Sorry for neglecting you). It is an exciting and humbling time, to be able to take a lived experience and personal situation so marinated in loss and pain and turn it to the greater good….what a blessing! (Mama would be proud.) So, Keep your eye out for the Local Resources Page. As I go along, I hope to add more local resources, encompassing not just my back yard, but the entire South Eastern Ontario region. I also hope to be able to add more information and resources that serve the entire province. Come back often and look around.

OH YAH!! and be sure to check out the 2014 Alzheimer Society of Ontario calendar. Mom and I are one of the families featured in it. (Which I think is pretty cool.)

What I have learned and continue to learn in being part of this online community, is that we need each other. We need to share our stories, listen to other people’s and support each other. It makes all our loads lighter when we do.


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