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Telehealth offers after-hours dementia care

By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Oct 17, 2013 - 1:47 PM |
Telehealth Ontario's services have recently been reviewed and strengthened to better serve caregivers of those with dementia.

The services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.

“Family caregivers deliver the vast majority of care for the 200,000 persons with dementia in Ontario in their own homes,” says Lorraine LeBlanc, executive director of the Société Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin.

“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,” said 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,” said 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.

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.

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