April 2017 Caregivers Deserve Better.

Upcoming Workshop - April 22nd

Help for Family Caregivers

Are your parents aging and needing more help?  Are you supporting an aging friend or family member? Do you work with seniors and their families? Take away a toolbox full of information, tips and local resources.

And Then I Got Angry

No one knows the child like the parent. 
No one knows the vulnerable parent like the adult child.

Consider my experiences. I would like to tell you that these experiences are uncommon but they are not.

I told my mother's family doctor that she could no longer remember how to bake a potato or to find the light switch in her hallway. I asked for his help.  He responded by asking her how her memory was. She said, "Oh it's fine." He looked at me and said, "Then we don't need to discuss this now”.

I had no idea what to do next. I didn't know that I could have referred my mother to the Geriatric Assessment Program (204.982.0140). I struggled to convince her that she needed help. As her stress increased she began taking more little “nerve pills”.

Two months later she had a fall and ended up at Misericordia Urgent Care. The doctor asked me if I knew that my mother was on three different benzodiazepines. Huh? Benzodiazepines she said cause confusion and falling in the elderly. Later, I checked mom's medicine cabinet. I found 2 bottles of 100 sedatives labeled "Take As Directed' and a bottle of sleeping pills. At a follow-up appointment with her family doctor, I told him what I had learned about these meds. His response was, "Well, that's what a layperson might think."

I made an appointment with a pharmacist to go over my mom's prescriptions. He validated my concerns, recommended some changes and arranged to blister pack her pills.

A year later she spent several weeks in hospital. About 3 weeks after she was admitted I noticed that she was becoming extremely agitated. I asked to see what medications she was on. Her anxiety medication had been stopped by the admitting doctor. I could have told them that this anti-depressant was not for depression but for a lifetime anxiety issue. But no one asked.

I took me two weeks to convince them to restart this medication. I persisted until I managed to speak to a doctor in person.

A week later I got a phone call from the hospital at 2 AM to tell me my mother had passed away. At 2:15 I got another call to tell me it was a mistake! Her roommate had passed away.

I became determined to find out how to get better care for my mom.
  • I made an appointment with the hospital social worker to get some advice on how to navigate the system. She could have helped so much if I had known to go to her earlier.  Her job is to be the liaison between the family and the hospital.
  • I found A Guide For Caregivers published by the Manitoba Government.
  • I discovered the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety site. I read Advocating for Yourself and Others . I found the Advocacy Toolkit.  I learned how to become my mom’s patient advocate. I wished I had read all this before we were in a  crisis.


NO… is not always an acceptable answer.
Here are 5 responses for challenging situations.
1.       Respond - Really? That’s interesting. I was hoping for a different solution.
2.       Express Concern – My concern is ….
3.       Ask about Alternatives - Are there alternatives we could consider?
4.       Request an Explanation – Can you help me understand your decision?
5.       Persist - I’d like to meet again to discuss this further.

If you aren't making progress, call for back-up. Take someone with you who can add leverage to your position.

Never let the attitude of others be an obstacle to getting the best care possible. 

February / March 2017

Upcoming Workshop - April 22nd

Help for Family Caregivers

Are your parents aging and needing more help?  Are you supporting an aging friend or family member? Do you work with seniors and their families? Take away a toolbox full of information, tips and local resources.

Topic of The Month - It's Tax Time

Be sure to take advantage of the available tax benefits. Do not assume that you will not qualify. Check it out. Many of these benefits can be claimed for past years as well so don't despair if you did not put them on this year's claim. Click on the links for detailed information.

On This Page

Primary Caregiver Tax Credit | Manitoba

- $1,400 Refundable
A refundable credit of up to $1,400 a year to people who act as primary caregivers for spouses, relatives, neighbours or friends who live at home in Manitoba. Note: "At home" means any facility not supported by government funding.

Forms and detailed information are available on the 
Manitoba Government website: Primary Caregiver Tax Credit  

Questions? Manitoba Tax Assistance Office
Email questions to: TAO@gov.mb.ca  
Use email so you can save a hard copy of the response.

TIP: Don't be scared off by the Caregiver Log. Just list the tasks you do. Here are some examples:

  • Driving to doctor appointments or other services
  • Arranging or preparing meals
  • Grocery shopping
  • Assisting with home maintenance, repairs or yard work
  • Providing personal care (bathing, dressing, feeding)
  • Completing forms or documents (legal, insurance)
  • Assisting with bill payment
  • Housekeeping tasks (cleaning, laundry)
  • Assisting with medications (setup, dosing)

Disability Tax Credit | Canada

This is a federal government tax credit for people with disabilities. 

CAUTION: Do NOT hire a consultant to help complete the form or claim this tax credit.

You must apply and be approved by a doctor (or other approved health professional). The doctor may charge a tax deductible fee of $100 or less to complete the form. If anyone offers to help you for a much larger fee, say no thanks.

You must apply and be approved Savings - as much as $1,165 a year Allows for important medical expense claims such as attendant care expenses paid to a retirement home. (This can significantly reduce the rent.)

Eligibility - The descriptions are very confusing but in a nutshell.
Eligible applicants have one or more severe and prolonged impairments in physical or mental functions. 
Applicants must be:
Markedly impaired in one or more functions.
Significantly impaired in one or more functions with a combination of other less severe impairments. 

1. Physical Functions
  • vision
  • feeding or dressing oneself
  • speaking or hearing impairment
  • eliminating (bowel or bladder functions) 
  • walking
2. Mental Functions
  • memory
  • problem solving, goal-setting and judgement (taken together) 
  • adaptive functioning (includes those abilities related to self-care, health and safety, social skills and common simple transactions) 

Eligible Medical Expenses – save all receipts

Tip: Take 5 minutes to read the complete list on the Canada Revenue site. Did you know that incontinence products (Depends) are an eligible medical expense? 

There are significant exemptions for those who are approved for the disability tax credit. Almost 50% of the monthly fees at a retirement home are attendant care expenses. These are an eligible medical expense.  The cost of moving to a more accessible housing is covered up to $2000.
  • Attendant care expenses paid to a retirement home
  • Hearing aids or personal assistive listening devices including repairs and batteries.
  • Certificates - the amount paid to a medical practitioner for completing and providing  additional information in regard to Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate and other certificates.
  • Diapers or disposable briefs for a person who is incontinent 
  • Foot Care
  • and many more...

      CPP Death Benefit

      The maximum amount of this benefit is $2500. Be aware that it is taxable and keep back $1000 to pay the tax in the following year.

      January 2017

      Balance Magazine

      There are direct links to all the sites for each issue on the 4Teachers page.

      Overcoming Winter

      Winter is a difficult time for seniors and their caregivers. My mom needed blood tests every three weeks which meant taking her out into the freezing cold and maneuvering our way through snow and ice to the lab. By chance I learned that these tests could be done in her home for a small fee that was an eligible medical tax deduction.
      Also as my mom's patient advocate, I could see her doctor on my own for routine prescription renewals.
      There are many mobile services for seniors. To find services go to the Seniors' Resource Network site and call a seniors organization in your area.

      Here are just some examples of services that will come to a senior's home.
      • Physicians  
      • Dental 
      • Optical
      • Massage
      • Physiotherapy
      • Manitoba X-Ray Clinic - Portable Unit 
      • Lawyers
      • Grocery Orders and Deliveries 
      • Shopping 
      • Winnipeg Mobile Library Service for Seniors 311
      • Meal Delivery 
      • Hair Care 
      • Foot Care
      • Manicures
      • Pet grooming
      Another resource for services is The Grey Pages - Winnipeg Edition: An online directory for older adults.

      Winter Outings

      My mom loved outings from the personal care home but as her dementia progressed she was more interested in just going somewhere that she could see families, colours and familiar items. We started just cruising the malls with a customer service wheelchair but eventually that became too busy for her. I found other spots like IKEA where we could look at many things and then have coffee and dessert was a better choice. Shelmardines was another favourite during the months it is open. Does anyone know of other spacious low cost locations?

      Thoughtful Reading for Future Seniors

      Moving Beyond Place:Aging in Community by William H. Thomas and Janice Blanchard


      People fear nursing homes. Indeed, when asked what they fear most, older people ranked loss of independence and placement in a nursing home above the fear of death.

      The bitter truth is that an older person can succeed at remaining in her or his own home and still live a life as empty and difficult as that experienced by nursing home residents. Feeling compelled to stay in one’s home, no matter what, can result in dwindling choices and mounting levels of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom.

      Our culture has constructed a continuum that positions institutional long-term care at one end of a spectrum, and an idealized vision of aging in place at the other. The challenge is to escape this false choice. An increasing number of Americans are searching for, and finding, a third way.

      Read the whole article here.