Community Care for Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
Navigating services for a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, early stage Alzheimer’s, or Alzheimer’s can be scary and feel overwhelming. In reality, when accessing support for our clients, we found that navigating the care in Toronto is quite simple and the people we spoke with were very understanding and helpful.
Connect with a Care Network
In Toronto, this network is the place to start:
Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN - pronounced 'Lynn'): (416) 506 – 9888
Contacting the LHIN or a similar health network in your area would be your first step to accessing care.
When you call this group, an assessment coordinator will arrange to send someone directly to your home to do an assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to find out the needs and the support required at this time.
The Ontario government has plans to reorganize community care with a program called Ontario Health. The LHINs are likely going to be replaced in the future by other community service hubs.
Get Booked for an Assessment
At the moment in Toronto, there is typically a one to two week wait once you call and ask to book an appointment for an assessment. There is no cost for the assessment because the Ontario government funds it. When someone calls to book an appointment, you will be asked for the health card number for the person requiring care.
Get Referrals for Community Care
Following the assessment, a report will be sent to a designated person responsible for care. The LHIN’s findings and recommendations will help to connect to the appropriate resources to arrange care. Depending upon the catchment area in which you live, the LHIN determines the timing and availability of service provision.
Next, the LHIN recommends that you call this group:
Toronto Senior's Help Line: (416) 217 - 2077
This is a navigation hub for assistance for things like laundry, housekeeping, grocery shopping, and day care programs.
There are a large number of centres that can be accessed through this Help Line that can assist with the connection to supervised activities provided by the centre include gardening, games, music, cooking, crafts, and community outings.
Look For Other Opportunities for Socializing
On Saturday afternoons, another social option is a group called Recollectiv: https://www.recollectiv.ca/ The group meets each week at the Tranzac Club in Toronto. The group facilitates singing and musical instrument playing for people with cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. There is a significant amount of talent within the group leadership. They are trained singers and musicians who regularly donate their time.
There may not be too many options for day care for Sundays. That might be a good day for family and friends to visit, perhaps spend the day somewhere in the city for a few hours. Sometimes just getting out for a cup of coffee at a familiar coffee shop or a meal at a local restaurant can keep a regular connection with the rest of the world outside of home.
Consult With Other Health Care Providers
Remember that, as caregivers to people with declining mental health, consulting with physicians, holistic nutritionists, exercise experts, and naturopaths will also be helpful for maximizing cognition, balance, and daily function.
Caregivers Need Downtime Too
Further, regularly discuss plans that ensure that all caregivers have time away from their loved one(s) to relax, recharge, and reduce anxiety that surrounds caring for someone with one of the above conditions.