What Are Canadian Mental Health Resources for Seniors

Integracare is committed to providing Seniors with high-quality and professional home healthcare. The last few months have been challenging for everyone. The outbreak of COVID-19 has reminded the entire world that it would be a dark and lonely place without community and compassion. We wouldn’t be where we are today if we lived in a society without empathy and support. Healthcare, front line, and essential service workers worldwide have stepped up to the plate to ensure that daily life continues, and we all stay as safe and healthy as possible.

This virus has created many challenges, and as a provider of home care services in Toronto, we’ve certainly had to make a few changes to how we conduct our daily business. However, we genuinely believe that we’re stronger and safer than we’ve ever been — so if there’s any silver lining to COVID-19, it’s that we’re even more committed to giving our Clients the safety and support that they deserve.

As part of our commitment to providing extraordinary service for our Clients, we’ve decided to take a more in-depth look into the mental healthcare system in Canada, as many Seniors are experiencing drastic changes to their emotional wellbeing.

Mental health is an often-overlooked facet to the healthcare industry, and Seniors’ mental health is even less discussed. There’s often a stigma to mental health, but we want to erase that by putting it out in the open. We want our Clients and their families to know that it’s common to wonder about mental illness and to experience emotional distress, and, most importantly, to know that we are here to help.

Health Services at Home in Toronto and the GTA

Integracare is located in the GTA and we provide the highest quality private home healthcare to Seniors in Toronto and the surrounding areas. Our Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and specialized Caregivers provide support for Clients in the comfort of home, wherever that may be. Integracare has Clients living in private residences as well as those living in nursing facilities and hospitals, in addition to retirement homes and long-term care facilities.

There are exceptional benefits of home health care because PSWs care for Clients individually, giving them personalized attention, and cater to their unique needs. A trained and experienced PSW or Caregiver at home can spot mental health issues much faster than if a person were one of many in an assisted living facility. This is because patients in long-term care homes don’t always receive the personal, customized attention or care that they need.

We take mental health in Seniors seriously at Integracare. As many as 1.4 million Seniors in Canada experience loneliness, and about 15% of Canadians over the age of 65 suffer from serious depression.

Integracare works hard every day to ensure that our Clients are happy, healthy, and safe. We’re confident in what we do, so we started to ponder how mental health is addressed outside Integracare, and how the system in Toronto compares with other cities within the country.

We considered questions, including:

  • What resources are available to Seniors with mental health concerns?
  • Is healthcare in Canada and Toronto as good as people say?
  • How accessible is it for Seniors to attain these health services?
  • How does Toronto compare to cities such as Vancouver?

Let’s take a look at what the advantages and challenges of living in Toronto as a Senior are, as well as what mental health resources exist for the ageing population. For comparison purposes, we’ll also take a look at these issues in Vancouver — another popular Canadian city for Seniors.

First Steps

A common challenge for many Seniors is to recognize and admit that there is a problem. Often, older adults might not understand that what they’re feeling isn’t “normal” and might try to brush it aside. Seniors have a lot on their plate. In addition to increasing loneliness and loss, Seniors often need to deal with declining physical health conditions and many live month-to-month with the financial assistance of a small pension. The ageing process can be stressful for Seniors, and it can be difficult to ask for help.

As a family member or friend, you might also struggle with knowing what to do or where to go for guidance. However, merely recognizing that something is wrong and wanting to ask for help is the first step in the right direction.

Living in Toronto or the GTA gives you and your loved one an advantage because there are many health resources available. Organizations such as The Geriatric Mental Health program at CAMH (The Centre for Mental Health and Addiction) and the North York General Hospital Geriatric Mental Health Services offer both in- and outpatient programs for Seniors facing mental health issues.

It’s essential to ask your loved one’s doctors about local resources for emotional health. The services available in downtown Toronto are not the same as those in more rural areas of Ontario. It’s always a good idea to know where to find crucial information about mental health, and what the available programs and facilities are in your area.

The Ontario Mental Health website is an incredible resource with names of clinics and phone numbers to access in times of crisis, and it provides essential links to healthcare facilities in the GTA.

However, accessing free, available mental healthcare is perhaps not as simple as you might think.

Accessibility

The sad reality for all of Canada is that accessing mental health services is not always an easy process. 85% of Canadians believe that general mental health services are the most underfunded services in the country’s healthcare system, and 86% of the population says that the government should fund the mental health care system at the same level as they do physical health.

Seniors who seek help for depression, stress, or anxiety are often subjected to extensive waiting lists to find a psychiatrist. A doctor will refer a patient to a one-time appointment with a psychiatrist, and depending on the severity of the situation, that waiting period can take months.

Once the appointment with a psychiatrist is complete, patients are often referred to a therapist, which can be a costly endeavour. However, some Senior Ontario residents are entitled to a certain amount of counselling appointments covered by OHIP. If you’re concerned about the health and wellbeing of your loved one, consult with his or her doctor about these government-paid therapy sessions.

The Advantages of Home Healthcare

home health care

Of course, you can always count on Integracare. We’re here for your family member or friend day or night, and if we ever think that there’s anything unusual with a Client’s emotional state, we contact family members and their doctors immediately.

If your loved one suffers from any of the overwhelming symptoms caused by ageing: isolation, loneliness, or a serious illness, our private services can be an excellent resource. Think of home healthcare as a tool that fits in your healthcare toolbox.

It’s one more item to add to a list that could include a therapist, regular exercise, and healthy eating — all to help the mental state of your family member or friend. Integracare isn’t a mental health facility, but we offer health services for Seniors with illnesses of all sorts — physical and mental. Our Caregivers provide modern, compassionate dementia care in Toronto and the GTA, and understand the complexities of mental health issues.

We mention Dementia because, often, patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of the illness also suffer from depression, anxiety, insomnia, and more. Our goal is to bring joy to all of our Clients. We do this by communicating closely with doctors and other healthcare workers who work hard to keep your loved one healthy and happy.

Our goal is to help our Clients maintain their independence. Living at home makes that possible because it’s a familiar setting and provides individuals a sense of self-reliance. Individuals who receive home healthcare don’t have to adhere to imposed rules, regulations, or schedules from an assisted living facility. They can live a schedule based on their personal needs and wants.

Our Caregivers assist with anything Clients need help with, but are careful not to overstep or cross any boundaries. If they prefer to make their bed a certain way, for example, we would never interfere with that type of comforting routine. Unless there is a risk of injury or accident, we like to give Clients as much autonomy as possible.

We’re proud to offer Toronto our services, and we continue to work harder than ever through these challenging times.

What’s it Like to Live in Toronto Vs. Vancouver?

Many Seniors in Toronto think about what it would be like to live elsewhere within the country. What are mental health services like on the west coast? Toronto can be incredibly expensive — would living somewhere else mitigate financial stress and worry?

There’s no denying that the Canadian west coast is breathtakingly beautiful. There are the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Ocean — not to mention a milder climate than Toronto and an average winter temperature of about 7 degrees Celsius, compared to Toronto’s chilly average of 0 degrees! Vancouver, British Columbia is picturesque and provides a slightly calmer way of life than the busy metropolitan of Toronto. British Columbia is undoubtedly a retirement hot spot for Seniors who prefer that sort of slower lifestyle.

Similar to Ontario, BC offers older adults free access to non-profit organizations such as Seniors First BC that guides on legal matters and elder abuse. The organization Here to Help is another excellent resource for individuals experiencing mental illness and substance abuse.

A downside to living in BC, particularly in Vancouver, is the cost of living. Currently, it’s more expensive to live comfortably in Vancouver than to live in London, UK. On average, rent in Vancouver is often higher than it is to live and rent an apartment in the Greater London Area. And, rent in Vancouver is, on average, 2.21% higher than in Toronto.

Modest finances and the instability of a low income can be the driving factors behind anyone’s stress or anxiety, let alone a Senior living off of a small, monthly pension. Of course, living in Toronto can also be incredibly expensive, but its location offers faster, more effective healthcare options for Seniors. Residents in Toronto pay to live in a city that is convenient and thriving.

In fact, a recent study from Maclean’s Magazine ranked Toronto as the number one city to retire in the country.

Why Toronto?

home health care toronto

OK, so Toronto might not have award-winning weather. It might not have a luscious rainforest or an enchanting mountainous backdrop. And there aren’t any oceanic views to admire (although there are some gorgeous ones of Lake Ontario)! However, what it does have is access to a wide variety of essential healthcare facilities, including supportive mental healthcare facilities.

As Seniors age, their priorities change. Travelling increasingly becomes more challenging with age because of mobility issues, cost, or other health problems. The GTA is fortunate because it has a great transportation system, over 40 hospitals, and a plethora of specialized resources. Older adults want to live close to:

  • Family and friends
  • Hospitals
  • Community centres
  • Therapy and counselling centres
  • Transportation — bus, subway, train, or streetcar routes
  • Delivery services — food, prescriptions, and other medical supplies

Integracare’s commitment to home healthcare takes these concerns into how we administer our services to all of our Clients. As a healthcare provider that caters to individuals all over Toronto and the GTA, we make it a priority to communicate with friends, family members, and healthcare professionals that are part of your loved one’s life. We want to simplify his or her daily routine and to be on the same page as everyone involved.

The Integracare Advantage

We believe that excellent healthcare starts with educated and highly trained Caregivers and PSWs. All Integracare Caregivers are certified or registered professionals, and they engage in regular educational sessions about Senior healthcare from professional organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto.

And now, because of COVID-19, the entire Integracare team attends mandatory virtual continuing education programs. Exhibiting compassion and empathy to our Clients is incredibly important to us.

All of our PSWs, Caregivers, and Nurses consider every single Client a part of the Integracare family. Our biggest priority is to ensure their core needs are being met, and even if we have to do it behind face shields and gloves, we’re looking after your loved one with sincerity and empathy.

We’re also looking out for the friends and family members of Clients, because we know how worried you must be while this virus continues. Mental health is a concern for many people right now, and you might be concerned about your anxiety or depression. We extend support to friends and family by providing resources such as helpful palliative care information to help you prepare for any next step of your family’s journey.

Is the wellbeing and health of your loved one causing you immense anxiety or stress? With Integracare, you don’t need to feel distraught. Their PSW or Caregiver will help alleviate any concern you might feel because our team is highly trained, professional, and if you want, they can be with your friend or family member 24-hours a day.

The Canadian mental healthcare system has a ways to go before anyone could refer to it as perfect, and the same can be said for the city of Toronto. However, there are many resources available to Seniors in the GTA that can help them get the necessary assistance they need to feel happy and healthy.

One of those resources is home healthcare, and we’re so proud to be able to bring this to the city that we love (even though, we’ll admit — it’s just a little cold in the winter). If you think your loved one might benefit from our services, please get in touch to find out how we can help the Senior in your life feel good with compassionate, engaging care and support.