In the senior care space, we often rely on communication, connection, teamwork, collaboration. Together, we can change the narrative of long-term care, and help seniors age safely, comfortably, and happily at home.

We are proud to announce that Assisting Hands Home Care – Arlington Heights is launching a new pilot program with CareStory!

Check out their blog post here:

Assisting Hands Home Care is dedicated to delivering professional, personalized home care services while not only meeting the unique needs of each client, but also honoring WHO their clients ARE, and celebrating their life stories. Their services include Senior Care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care, Respite Care and Hospice Care. Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), in Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Mount Prospect, IL and the surrounding areas.

We are proud to be piloting with such a dynamic team and a company that truly puts passion into care.


Food has always been the main attraction at family reunions regardless of culture and race, and it is especially prominent in Jen’s family.

Today is the day that Jen picks up her mom from the nursing home, and welcomes her back home. Jen has put a lot of effort into preparing this family reunion dinner, and she had been studying recipes for the past few weeks, just to make sure her mom would be satisfied.

The dinner went well, except for the fact that Jen’s mom only ate a little and finished eating very soon after the dinner had started. Jen asked her mom if the food didn’t taste good, and her mom replied: “my taste buds arent as strong as before, not because of covid or anything else; my sense of taste has been getting weaker and weaker over the years.”

This is very normal among seniors. In fact, nearly 5% of seniors who are over 75 years old have  chronic issues with their sense of smell. Loss of smell and taste occurs when people enter their 60s, and some start as early as 40s.

What Causes Loss of Smell and Taste?

Loss of smell and taste can be attributed to many reasons. Certain medications that treat cardiovascular disease that contain beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, may cause lose of senses  in seniors. Also, other common causes such as aging, poor dental hygiene, nasal and sinus problems, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and smoking, etc. are all correlated to loss of smell and taste in elderly people.

Consequence of Loss of Smell and Tast

Our five senses are gifts from nature, and a disappearance of any one of them would lead to serious consequences.

  • Safety Issue

Our smell is linked to sections of the brain that process emotions and memories, and it may alert us to dangers such as gas leaks, fires, or rotting food. It can also trigger pain signals to be sent to our brain when we smell or taste anything unpleasant, as it could be a warning that something horrible is about to happen. For example, some polluted water may taste metallic. If seniors drink a glass of water without being aware of a metallic taste, the chemicals may put them at risk of metal accumulation in their bodies. Therefore, loss of smell could cause safety issues such as food poisoning and chemical poisoning.

  • Change in Dietary Habit

Flavour is a combination of taste and smell, so changes in the senses could also change someone’s food preferences and eating patterns. Seniors with a loss of taste would tend to “over-salt” their food, which is linked to high blood pressure. Also, a loss of interest in certain foods can cause malnutrition, which would cause substantial weight loss in seniors. So, if you notice your loved one skipping meals and slimming down, it is better to get checked out.

  • Decreased Quality of Life

Food brings happiness, and that’s why human beings are so enthusiastic about food. If an individual experiences loss of smell and taste, feasts are no longer appealing, and he or she may find it hard to reminisce by the smell of certain foods.

Smells have the power to evoke deep feelings and memories in humans. So, one’s quality of life might be severely hampered by the diminished or distorted perception of smell.

How to Help Your Loved One with Change in Sense of Smell & Taste

  • Get Checked

First and foremost, get checked by a doctor. You can book a nasal examination for your loved one to see if there’s inflammation or something else, such as  COVID-19. Sometimes it emerges from collective issues, and loss of smell is just a signal of more troubles down the road.

  • Encourage Him or Her to Eat

A loss of smell and taste would alter one’s appetite. In that, encouraging your loved one to savor foods becomes a vital topic here. Making social events and family gatherings is a good way to help seniors eat more food than usual. Also, you can try to use more herbs and spices that stimulate their appetite and increase food flavours without increasing blood pressure. Moreover, food is better served hot than cold in terms of its flavour. However, watch the temperature carefully so it won’t be too hot and burn your loved one’s tongue and throat – the best temperature served is about 150 F.

  • Follow Nutrition Guides

In our previous blog post, “Nutrition Guides for Seniors”, we have provided nutrition requirements and macronutrient charts for seniors. You can use the chart for planning for tasty meals for your loved one. Eating balanced meals is essential for seniors, no matter if they have lost their smell or not.

  • Label Foods with Dates Clearly

Since some seniors aren’t able to distinguish rotten or spoiled food by smell (as the look of food may not change much as they go bad), it is important to label fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and other foods with their purchase date, and best before date CLEARLY. Write the date in a bigger size so your loved one will notice.

  • Make Sure the Gas Detectors and Fire Alarms are Working

Again, guaranteeing your loved one’s safety at home is the primary thing we should focus on. In case he or she may be forgetful, or isn’t able to smell any “dangers”, you need to be proactive. Install and make sure gas detectors and fire alarms are in good working condition to greatly relieve your tension when you are away.




It’s just an ordinary morning. Jane wakes up and goes to the kitchen to get some water.

“Mom,” her daughter says, “umm, you kind of smell like old people.”

“Maybe it’s just because I haven’t brushed my teeth yet,” replied Jane.

Jane tried her best to be a good sport about it, but her daughter’s comment stayed with her for the rest of the day.

“What do old people smell like? And why do I smell like that – I’m only 55,” she thought. Obviously, this is something Jane wants to deal with right away.

“Old people smell”, as Jane’s daughter pur it, is actually very prevalent, and there’s a Japanese word that specifically describes it: Kareishu. The word has a negative meaning to it, mainly referring to a sweaty or unbathed smell. Not showering regularly may result in the smell, as it can with anyone of any age, however it is not the most prominent cause of changes in oder as we age.

Other Causes Of “Old People Smell”

  • Chemical Changes With Aging

You know the fresh and warm scent of a newborn baby? That goes away as we get older due to a chemical breakdown. The most popular hypothesis is changes in the chemical 2-nonenal. 2-nonenal may be responsible for causing older adults to have changes in odor.  When a person enters their 40s, 2-nonenal will present in the body and keep increasing as aging progresses.

As we become older, our skin produces more lipid acid, which is a type of fatty acid, and antioxidant protection in our skin decreases with age as well. In that, 2-nonenal is formed when fatty acid is oxidised, and is therefore what gives off that infamous “old people smell”.

However, scientists still haven’t confirmed how much of a role 2-nonenal plays in odor changes, as it might be a result from the interaction of the compound with skin secretions and bacteria.

  • Diseases

Some chronic diseases are also the source of changes in oder as we age. Diseases such as diabetes or uremia have a negative impact on skin function and can cause skin disorders. Also, skin problems like acne and eczema might exacerbate the issue. For example, diabetic dermopathy is caused by changes in small blood vessels, which could cause changes in skin maintainance.

Odor changes while aging is perfectly normal, but of course, we still want to smell fresh. There are several ways to manage changes in order as we age.

How To Manage Changes In Odor As We age

  • Engaging in a Heathy Lifestyle: Regular Exercise and Clean Eating

The best and most effective way is to change your lifestyle and quit bad habits. Make sure you are regularly exercising and eating clean. Eating clean means not eating too much fat, sugar, and sodium, given that these things would also alter our skin condition. Also, having enough rest and doing exercise can reduce our stress, which is huge ineliminating our unpleasant scents.

  • Quit Alcohol and Tobacco

Usually, when you walk past someone who drinks or smokes a lot, you will find that the smell of alcohol or tobacco has lingered on their body. This is because alcohol and tobacco leaves leaves residue on the skin whenever the person touches or consumes it. In addition, consuming alcohol or tobacco accelerates oxidation, which further increases “kareishu” in your body.

  • Drink Plenty of Water and Dilute Fatty Acids

Interestingly, dehydration can cause body odor. Drinking a lot of water can also dilute fatty acids in our body, along with increasingsaliva, which can help get rid of bacteria that causes unpleased odors

  • Green Tea May Help, Too

Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants, can help prevent bad breath, body odor, and stinky feet by neutralising free radicals.

Green tea helps the body rid itself of damaging pollutants by assisting in the secretion of glutathione, an antioxidant, so your body will smell much fresher.

  • Use Body Scrub – Fine Salt

Fatty acid on your skin is insoluble, so simply washing and rinsing with water isn’t so helpful to “wash out” the smell. However, using scrubs like fine salts can help remove the dirt and grease and make your skin much cleaner than just body wash alone. Also, scrubbing can offer feelings of relaxation, which in turn, helps to releave tension.

  • Air Out and Make Sure Living Areas Are Clean

Always keep your space clean! Sometime seniors’ rooms are warm and stuffy, which amplfies odors. Make sure to ventilate living spaces on a regular basis.

Also, make sure to do laundry on a regular basis. 2-nonenal transfers to your clothes and sheets from your skin. Using anti-stain and anti-grease laundry detergent helps to wash off the insoluble 2-nonenal.

At the End:

“Old People Smell” can be difficult to manage, even in those with good personal hygiene. However, don’t be scared of 2-nonenal. It is actually described as smelling like cucumber or old books – the greatest smell ever. And don’t stress about odor changes as you age; it is just a natural process.



Everyone knows Steve – the toughest and most obstinate man in the long-term care home. It is very difficult to convince him to do anything, which also includes welcoming his grandson’s dog, a three-year-old yellow lab.

“I hate dogs! They are annoying and dirty,” shouted Steve, speaking to his son on FaceTime. “Don’t ever bring that thing here…I won’t even let it in!”

Apparently, Steve’s grandson was even more uncompromising than his grandpa. He still brought the dog to the long-term care home, two weeks after the FaceTime call. His grandson gave: “The dog can’t be left in the house alone.”

The first greeting wasn’t so pleasant. Steve looked at the dog and angrily asked his son why he had brought him. However, the dog wasn’t aware of Steve’s disgust – he put his paw on Steve’s knee and wagged his tail happily, as if he were saying, “Hi Steve, it’s nice to meet you!”

After two hours of visiting, the family decided to go back. “Hey, why don’t you just leave the dog here since you will be in the city for a week,” requested Steve. “You said yourself that the dog can’t be left alone. I think I can take care of him.” 

It may have been surprising for a man like Steve to say that, but it did not surprise anyone that day. Everyone witnessed how happy and gentle Steve was when he was playing with the dog and how he made Steve another different person – a person that no one had ever seen.

“Maybe animals are magic,” joked Steve’s caregiver. “They can do the tricks that we can’t.”

This is true – our fluffy friends are amazing. They don’t speak (human languages), and they don’t buy you any gifts (small dead animals and sticks don’t count, of course). However, they have the power to sweep the haze away from your life and let the sunshine in – which is also a primary reason why so many institutions are using pet therapy to cope with people’s health problems.

What Is Pet Therapy?

Pet Therapy is a type of therapy that uses specially trained animals to offer affection and comfort to a community or a single individual. It is being used in a variety of organisations, including hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, and retirement and assisted living homes.

There are three different types of pet therapy: Facility Therapy, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and Therapeutic Visitation.

Facility Therapy refers to having the pets reside at the care home and trained to monitor dementia patients. At the same time, Assisted Therapy means a specific individual owns a trained pet in the assisted living community and receives a more intensive treatment.

Therapeutic Visitation, on the other hand, is the most common type of pet therapy out of the three. It refers to pet owners bringing their pet and visiting long-term, care homes, which allows  seniors to spend time with them and enjoy their companionship without having to take on the additional responsibility of caring for them all the time.

Why Do We Love Pet Therapy?

  • Encourages Social Engagement

It may be awkward if two strangers stand together, but if there is a pet sitting around them, the two individuals are more likely to interact with each other. Isn’t that amazing? In many cases, pets serve as excellent conversation starters. Residents can connect with each other and form new friendships when they spend time with animals.

  • Pet Therapy Has Many Physical Benefits

Did you feel amused when you scroll through TikTok and see pet videos? If yes, you’ve already benefited from “The Pet Effect”.

The term “The Pet Effect” refers to the miraculous healing powers of watching or interacting with pets. Spending time with dogs has been found in studies to lessen long-term care home residents’ pulse rates, as well as their stress and anxiety levels, as well as their heart rate and blood pressure.Some parents notice that their children who have depression will show alleviation in their symptoms when they have pets around, and it works for seniors, too. After all, these little animals don’t judge or give you any advice, and stay with you no matter what you do.

  • Senior isolation

If you have subscribed to our page, you must be familiar with the term “Senior Isolation”. Many seniors tend to have feelings of loneliness and isolation, either as a result of a lack of frequent visits from family and friends, a loss of a significant other, or a decreased level of physical activity.

Senior Isolation is difficult to tackle because so many seniors are “comfortable” in their unhealthy settings. So, for the reluctant elders, we can use our paw-friends to bring them out of their “shells”, and thus make them more open to new friendships. Feel free to check out our blog on “Senior Isolationwe have a lot of advice for you to help your loved one if he or she is experiencing loneliness.

Who Can be Our Paw-Friend?

Not all pets can be used in pet therapy, given the various personalities among the species and breeds. Normally speaking, old dogs and indoor cats are more suitable for companionship and providing comfort for seniors – they are quiet and understanding (yes, they are more sensitive to human’s needs when they get older).

There Are Limitations:

Just like many medications, pet therapy is not without its limitations. The more prominent concern of pet therapy would be safety. Many long-term care homes will ensure the animals are well-trained by doing behaviour checks. Cause, some pets may cause a threat to seniors’ safety if they are not properly trained.

Another issue is sanitation. Seniors tend to have compromised immune systems. Any unvaccinated or unwashed animals may cause allergies or infections among senior residents.




Charles hit 70 years old last week.

After his divorce, he took over the task of managing all the housework in the family. Just like other Californians, Charles likes to enjoy the sun and the little serendipities in his life. So, only three days after his birthday, Charles decided to move into a long-term care home to spend more time enjoying the idleness he deserves.

But here comes a problem: Charles wants to sell his house and use the money to cover his long-term care home expenses. However, his son is still living in his house with him. The cost of long-term care homes in California isn’t cheap, and it hurts Charles when he thinks about kicking his son out of the house as well.

Charles is in a conundrum that many seniors are.

Paying for long term care homes isn’t easy in the US. There are different types of long-term care homes. Here, we talk about nursing homes. According to the statistics from 2018, the average annual cost of a private room in a long-term care home across the US was $106,000. For some major cities, such as in San Francisco, the nursing home rate could reach $182,500 a year, and that’s why so many people choose to sell their property to live in a community.

However, selling houses isn’t the ultimate option to pay for a long-term care home There are, in fact, many benefits you should check out to relieve your financial burden.

How To Pay for A Long-Term Care Home in the US

Government Programs:

Just like in Canada, (Paying For LTC Homes In Canada) there are many government programs for senior citizens to use, and you probably already know of Medicare and Medicaid if you are living in the US.

However, there are some differences in range of what Medicare and Medicaid can cover:


Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage for people who are over 65 or under 65 and with a disability. Note that it only covers the expense of long term care that requires skilled services and rehabilitative care for 100 days, or a short period of time of receiving skilled home health and skilled in-home services.

Medicare works in the following situations:

  • Hospital deductible: the cost after you have paid a certain amount

  • Short stays in a nursing home to receive medical care that arose after a hospitalization

  • Hospice care

  • Outpatient care, doctor visits

  • Some medication costs


Medicaid, on the other hand, is a combined Federal and State program for low-income residents. It is only available to individuals who meet the requirements set forth by their state, and the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and the federal poverty line are used to determine financial eligibility for Medicaid.

Medicaid covers the cost of medical care and some long-term care. However, the range it covers may vary state to state, and in most cases, the coverage is very limited. As for California, the Medi-cal program can only cover 30 days of stays and medication in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF).

Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

While Medicaid can only cover a very limited amount of services and expenses, PACE can cover much more long-term care services (including medical and social services) for senior citizens, and it pays some or all of the long-term care expenses for the patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, PACE is active in 28 states. For more details, visit:

Other Programs

There are also many other benefit programs or institutions designed to serve a certain group of individuals. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides long-term care and at-home care for some veterans and their family. If you wish to know how to use different programs according to your situation, you can consult the National Council on Aging (NCOA). NCOA offers a free service called “BenefitsCheckUp” to screen your eligibility and find you a list of Federal and State benefit programs that can help you and your loved one.

Private Payment Options

If you don’t meet the eligibility to require financial aid from your state, and you wish to explore more options other than paying from your own savings, there are some ways you can try:

Long-Term Care Insurance

This type of insurance is purchased when you are younger. Long-term care insurance covers many long-term care services including palliative and hospice care. The cost depends on the amount of services, age and health condition. Thus, the earlier it is planned, the better it can serve.

Reverse Mortgages for Seniors

A reverse mortgage is a particular type of house loan that allows a homeowner who is over 62 years old to get a portion of their property’s equity in return, so they can use the returned amount to cover their long-term care home.

Reverse mortgages have no criteria for applicant’s income or health, only age (>62). Moreover, the loan amount is tax free and can be used for any expense. However, it’s only useful for a mortgage-free property. So if you already owe money on your house in the form of a mortgage or another type of debt, you must pay it off first to get the benefit.





We have gotten a message from one of our readers recently.

“My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was 70. He was only showing symptoms of  memory loss and agitation up until recently, but now, he has started wandering. I am currently working from home so I can be with him him during the day, however he mostly wanders at night. I tried to stop him, but he won’t listen. It’s as if there’s something he needed to complete. I am a single mom and have to take care of my son and my dad. We are Italian so family means everything to us, but my dad’s behavior has really been hard to handle. Can you give me some advice on how to prevent his wandering? Thank you.” -Mia

Mia is definitely not the only one we know that has such an issue – we see it almost every day. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 out of 10 patients with dementia show signs of wandering, or as we are going to put it, exploring, and some explorers are never found, or found dead because of accidents. In that, keeping your exploring loved one at home becomes so important at this point. However, it is always easier said than done. So, today CareStory is going to provide you with some very useful tips to keep your loved one safe and sound.

Before You Prepare, You Need to Figure These Things Out


Step One: Find Out The Reason Why They Explore

Before you start to plan for safety for your loved one, it is always helpful to find out the underlying reason for his or her exploring. There are many reasons for someone experiencing Dementia to explore, and according our experience, they can be categorized into the following:

  1. Basic Needs: Some seniors explore because they have necessary needs such as finding a bathroom, food, or simply looking for fresh air.

  2. Old Routine: In our previous blog post, “The Power of Telling Senior Stories”, we have spoken about a woman who used to wake up at night and check on residents in their rooms. It turned out that she was a night shift nurse for over 30 years and she was just doing her job. (Power of Storytelling)

  3. Fear: The surroundings may be triggering, or make them feel unsafe, so they try to find a “safe zone”.

  4. Boredom: Of course, people experiencing dementia feel bored, too. When they are looking for something to do, as you would, they start to explore their surroundings.

The underlying cause may vary from person to person, and situation to situaton. To help you determine what’s on your loved one’s mind and what or why their are exploring, , you can ask yourself the following:

  • Has your loved one always been this active? It’s possible that your loved one’s exploration is linked to a certain activity they used to engage in during the day.

  • Is your loved one having difficulty distinguishing between the past and the present when performing daily activities (eg. picking up the kids from school)?

  • Are your loved ones familiar with their current surroundings?

  • Are there any needs for your loved one that isn’t being provided? (eg. the need to feel loved and care for, the need to go to the toilet, the need for food or water, the need to manage pain, etc.)

  • Does your loved one look anxious, bored, or unsettled?

  • Is your loved one taking any new or different medications?

  • Has there been any recent change in your loved one’s living environment?

After all these questions are figured out, you will know the roots of their exploration. So instead of trying to put a stop to it,you can try to help them tackle their fear and anxiety, or provide them with what they need at the moment.

If the exploration continues, you can move on to the next step.

Step Two: Identify Patterns

Now is the time that you should take out a notebook and record your loved one’s patterns of exploration. Observe the time of day they start to explore, the duration of each, and the frequency they explore in a week or a month. You can also write down any negative effects caused by their exploration. Here’s an example of how you can take your notes:

  • Exploration occurs daily at 1:00am for one hour, resulting in an slight injury to left leg.

  • Exploration occurs twice a week, around 3:00pm, resulting in turning on the kitchen stove and walking away.

  • Explorationoccurs once a week, between 6:00pm to 8:00pm, resulting in the person being lost outside for at least one hour.

After you take your notes, you will have a better idea of what you should do to minimize any negative effects when they decide to explore.

How to Create a Safe Environment for an Explorer

If we can’t cure a disease, we find a way to live with it. This applies to Dementia as well specfically those who love to explore! In most cases, exploring will continue no matter what. So let’s discuss how we can create an environment for our loved ones with Dementia to explore safely:

Lock Doors When You Are At Home

Always keep the door locked when you are at home. You can also purchase alarm locks for the front door. They only cost $15-$20 on Amazon, and they can help you out a lot by notifying you if your loved one leaves the house.

Add Window Locks

To prevent your loved one from any potental injuries from the wondow, it’s best to add a lock or a screen that cannot be removed. 

Paint the Walls the Same Color for Continuity

It may sound novel, but painting the wall the same color or pattern to create a sense of continuity and can actually prevent the desire to explore when it may not be safe to do so.

Install a Door or Gate at the Top of a Stairway

It is especially useful if you have a basement in your house, or your loved one lives on the upper floor of the house, to install a door or gate at the top of the stairway. This prevents slips, falls, and injuries when walking downstairs in the dark or even if your loved one is sleepwalking. Note that the door should always swing away from the stairs, so if your loved one pushes the door too hard and it opens, it won’t let him or her fall because of the force. 

Install a Kitchen Door

Sometimes, your loved one feel  they may need to cook for the kids in the evening, and it is what we mentioned above – repeating an old routine. When your loved one with dementia wants to use the kitchen, you have to be aware of potential risks. For example, , they may use the oven, microwave and stove, but forget to turn them off after using it. Thus the best solution is to install a kitchen door and keeping it locked when you are not using it.

Hire a Caregiver to Take Care Your Loved One When You Are Not at Home

If you are a busy working person and always have your hands full, it is time to seek help from a professional. Some people who are experiencing dementia and love to explore  just want to find company, or find things to do to keep them less busy, so hiring a caregiver would greatly decrease your loved one’s loneliness and boredom. It gives you respite since you don’t have to worry about your loved one when you are away running errands. You may need to look for a home care agency if you have never hired any caregivers before. However, finding a responsible home care agency isn’t easy. See our blog on “Top 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Care Agency”. It will guide you on how to spot the “best match” for you and your loved one.


Amy’s mom has been complaining to her family that the construction on the LTC is too loud and disrupts her rest. Knowing how sleep deficiency could make her mom anxious, Amy reported it to the administrator of the nursing home right after she got the call from her mom.

The administrator promised Amy that the construction would only take three days to finish, so Amy and her mom kept waiting. However, a week went by, and the nursing home is still filled with the loud noises of hammering and drilling.

Now, Amy wants to escalate the issue.

If this sounds familiar to you, and you are wondering how to file a complaint about a nursing home, CareStory is here to help.

Common Complaints:

Millions of senior citizens receive nursing care in North America every year, and some angry residents have a lot to say. Most of these complaints show that residents and family members believe that the quality of care provided is subpar.

Complaints That Are Frequently Raised:

  • Poor food quality

  • Staffing issues

  • Disruptions to rest and sleep

  • Abuse and neglect

  • Unmet resident needs

  • Quality of care

  • Worker competency

  • Lack of cooperation with medical care, etc.

Complaints about nursing homes can be sorted as urgent and non-urgent, which require different steps while being reported.

Urgent Complaints:

According to, urgent complaints include abuse, neglect, harm, and danger to the residents. For example: physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, abandonment, etc.

For urgent cases, the optimal approach would be calling or e-mailing the Long-Term Care Family Support and Action Line. The information in the complaint letter should include:

  • Name of the home

  • Address of the home

  • A description of the event

  • Persons that were involved

  • How you would like the home to solve the issue

Once the ministry receives your request, they will assess your report and the event. If the complaint is defined as urgent by the ministry, they will take the next step, which is a formal investigation of the nursing home.

In this article, we will include a template of a complaint letter, Feel free to download it!

Non-Urgent Complaints:

While the line between urgent and non-urgent complaints is vague (since everyone’s reaction and interpretation of an event differs), the official explanation from of non-urgent complaints are cases related to the less severe cases such as diet, activities, or care.

There are many ways to report non-urgent complaints. The easiest way is to report the issue to the home directly. Also, what you should write in the complaint letter is similar to the information required for urgent complaints, which includes the description of the complaint, and how you expect the nursing home to solve it.

Also, you can still report your issue to the Long-Term Care Family Support and Action Line, just like you would in urgent cases. You can also contact your local long term care ombudsman. The responsibility of a long-term care ombudsman is to aid communication between family members and the long-term care home.

If you are unsure about what to write in a complaint letter, below is  a free template for you to download. Remember that you always have the right to protect your loved one,

Sample Complaint Letter:

[Note: This template provides structure and guidance for writing a complaint Letter.  Simply replace information in brackets [] with your own information and text.]

[Your Name]

[Street Address]

[City, Zip Code]

[Today’s Date]

[Name of Recipient]



[City, Zip Code]

Dear [Name of Recipient]:

[Short introduction paragraph – provide the name of the long-term care home you are going to complain about. Include dates, locations, and the conclusion of the event.]

[State the specifics of the event. Describe the persons who got involved, and what consequence the event resulted in.]

[Indicate how you would like them to resolve the problem. Provide the result that you are seeking. This may include reimbursement.]

[Indicate that you are looking forward to their reply within a specific time (choose a reasonable time period). Indicate you will wait for their reply before pursuing other options such as legal counsel or ombudsman’s assistance.]

[Indicate they can contact you about the issue and provide a contact number.]

Sincerely (or Respectfully Yours),

(Sign here for letters sent by mail or fax)


[Typed Name] 



“My dad lost his way home when he got back from the park, again,” Shawn complains to his friend,

“I have told him so often not to go outside alone, but he doesn’t listen.”

“Shawn, you should not blame him for that.” Replies his friend,

“Your dad has the right to go outside. It’s just that you can’t be with him all the time.”

That’s true. Like many middle-aged people, Shawn has his own family and is busy working most of the time. However, time never waits for anyone – now, his aged father needs him more than ever.

“Maybe it’s time to consider home care?” Shawn’s friend suggests, “My mom was in the same situation, so we hired a care worker for him. It does cost quite a bit, but it’s all worth it.”

Home care could be the silver lining to your situation if you are just as clueless as Shawn. Don’t worry. This article will guide you through what home care is and everything you want to know about the service.

What are home care services?

Home care service isn’t hiring someone to take care of your home. It is a kind of professional support that allows a senior to stay safely at home.

Many families hire a home care worker rather than send their parents to a long-term care facility. It is because:

Seniors can maintain their independence while living in familiar surroundings, with family members able to visit at any time. Some seniors and their families prefer to interact only with a caregiver who has been assigned to them.

There are different home care services: Personal care and companionship, nursing care, and home health care. Each serves a different purpose and is provided by caregivers with different qualifications. Now, let’s see what these care services are.

Personal care and companionship

Just as the name suggests, personal care and companionship support involve helping the senior with daily activity and supervision. In this type of home care, the care levels can range from weekly meal preparation to incontinence assistance.

Personal care aides can be hired privately or by agencies. Such home care service can meet many seniors’ needs, such as:

– Companionship

– Transportation

– Getting dressed, bathing, and grooming

– Meal preparation

– Basic housekeeping

Who provides it:

Personal Support Workers (PSW) are eligible to provide such support. The care can be provided by shift or full time based on clients’ needs. Personal care and companionship do not require a doctor’s prescription, but they require the worker to possess a PSW certificate.

The cost:

Personal care and companionship support are usually charged by the hour. According to the statistics of Ontario, the average cost of PSW is between $28 to $36 hourly. Usually, there will be a minimum hour requirement for each shift, either 3 or 4 hours per visit.

Depending on the agency, the cost would be mostly privately paid and rarely covered by long-term care and health insurance.

Who’s suitable for personal care and companionship

Seniors who have no severe medical concerns but need help with basic daily activities can consider personal care services. It also works for the seniors who often feel isolated, just like Shawn’s father. After all, meeting psychological needs are as important as meeting basic living needs for seniors. See our blog on “Senior Isolation” for more details.

Nursing care

Nursing care is also known as home-based skilled nursing or hourly nursing. This type of service is provided for those with more complex and ongoing medical demands but still prefer receiving care in the home setting.

Nursing care service includes specific medical care such as IV therapies

(administering shots), wound dressing, palliative care, pain management, etc.

Who provided it?

Nursing care is provided by Registered Nurses (RNs) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs); the nurse will use clinical criteria to create a nursing diagnosis list. Like personal support service, nursing care can be provided by shift or full time. However, it needs to be prescribed by a doctor since it involves medical practice.

The cost:

The cost of home-based nursing care is more expensive than personal support care. The average cost of nursing care in Ontario is $55 to $88 per hour, and again, it has minimum hours per visit, just like personal care.

You can choose to pay by yourself. Various sources such as health insurance and work benefit can also cover the cost. So, check the policy before hiring a nurse. It may save you some bucks.

Who’s suitable for nursing care

Persons who have specific long-term medical needs would be suitable for nursing care. The concerns include but are not limited to diabetes, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the need to administer medication, feeding tube care and ventilator care.

Home health care: 

Home health care is more physician-directed than the other home care services, which involve physical therapies, occupational therapies, medical social work and short-term nursing services. It is performed on a relatively short-term basis than the other two, and it can be stopped as soon as patients’ goals are met.

Who provides it?

Since home health care is more medical-centred, it can be provided by licensed professionals such as physical therapists, registered nurses, occupational therapists and so on, depending on the needs.

Home health care is usually provided hourly or by session. It also required a doctor’s prescription to receive specific therapy.

The cost:

The average price of home health care in Canada is around $125 per hour. In most cases, the cost can be covered by health insurance or private insurance.

Who’s suitable for home health care:

Home health care may benefit someone who has recently been wounded and requires rehabilitation. It is also appropriate for individuals who have recently been discharged from the hospital or are recovering from surgery. After their urgent medical needs have been met, patients may seek nursing care or home care.


Home care services provided cares that can be divided into different types based on different needs. Personal support and nursing care are provided on an ongoing basis, while home health care is for those who have recent injuries and need short-term therapies. Hiring a caregiver could be stressful sometimes, but CareStory Home Care is here to provide the best service and give you relief. In our next few blogs, we will talk about the tips and things you should know in the recruiting process. Stay tuned!




A woman’s dad has been living at home since retirement. Everything has been good until he shows memory loss and some physical inconvenience. The woman thinks she should keep her father at home or send him to a long-term care home. However, her father insists on staying at home, so she’s in a dilemma now.

Who’s suitable to age in place? 


– Lives in a safe and age-friendly neighbourhood:

low criminal rate, quiet and peaceful

– Has the home remodelled for accessibility :

stairs, grab bars, alert system(smart home tech)

– Has stable health condition :

does not constantly visit an emergency room or hospitalization

– Does not have severe cognitive/memory problems

Able to read and think, stay safely at home

Care and Support

– Has a support network available:

community support, volunteer

– Have families or friends live together, or live nearby

less than 20 min of drive, respond rapidly

– Hires a caregiver or has a family to take care of him or her


– Has stable and sufficient income or financial support

Benefit, pension, or financial support from families to afford remodelling and home care

– Able to manage bills or has a family to manage the bills

Financial security, prevent fraudulence

Shirley’s father has been enjoying his life at home since retirement. It has been 30 years, and everything has been great … until last month he fell down in the kitchen. The old man ascribes the fall to the slippery floor, while Shirley clearly knows that it is not this simple – her father has shown some cognitive impairment recently, and it does harm his mobility to some degree.

Shirley is usually busy working, and as a single mom, she dedicates her free time to taking care of her two kids. She has suggested that her father goes to a long-term care home. Not surprisingly, her father declines her suggestion without any hesitation.

It is not just her father. Shirley feels guilty about sending her father to a long-term care home, too. – she knows how much her father enjoys everything in the house, the garden, and the lovely neighbourhood vibes.

“Should I leave him at home?” The question bothers Shirley every night when she lays down in her bed.

Shirley is in a dilemma now, and we know some of you are in the same situation, just like her. According to our experience, letting a senior age in place is possible, but there are prerequisites. Here, CareStory has summarized these requirements that can allow your loved one to live happily and safely at home.

Who Is Suitable to Age in Place?


– Lives in a safe and age-friendly neighbourhood:

You never want your loved one to live in an environment with insecurity. Check your local police online report to see the crime rate in the area. It is also important that the community that your loved one is living in is age-friendly, meaning it is quiet, peaceful, has various forms of transportation and many accessible community services. These factors can promote senior living quality and wellbeing. A very straightforward way to check if a community is age-friendly is to see how many assisted living homes are around the area – if there is one or more than one long-term care home in the area, it means it’s the right place.

– Has the home remodelled for accessibility:

One of the most important things to age at home is to make the place remodelled for seniors’ needs. For example, install grab bars in bathrooms and your family’s bedroom if she or he has mobility issues. If she or he needs to use a wheelchair, it is necessary to add outdoor ramps for your family to enter or exit the house. Make sure to add anti-slip flooring in the bathroom and kitchen to prevent falls. Sometimes you can also use smart home technologies such as an alert or sensor systems to monitor your loved one’s security. A full home remodelling project would cost around $10,000, but it will provide your loved one with a better and safer environment to age.

– Has stable health condition:

It is important to know your family’s medical requirements and his or her health needs to be stable. If your family has some acute symptoms that need to visit the emergency room or need hospitalization constantly, then he or she isn’t suitable for staying at home – it could be exhausting and worrisome for both you and your senior family.

– Does not have severe cognitive or memory problems:

Your loved one might have someone to take care of him or her, but he or she needs to be able to stay safely at home. If he or she has severe mental or cognitive memory deterioration, there’s a chance that your family can’t even keep up with all the support you can provide to him or her, and it will potentially increase the distress of you and the caregiver.

Care and Support

– Has a support network available:

There are many senior support networks that are offered by the government or non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross. These senior support programs are meant to provide daily support for older adults and their caregivers, which include phone call companionship, nutrition and transportation, emergency services, friendly visiting, etc. These services are provided by volunteers, so they don’t require a penny from your pocket. So, register one for your loved one. It will be extremely helpful for his or her in-home living.

– Have families live together or live nearby:

It is important that at least one family member live together with your senior family or have family members live close to him or her. We would recommend the distance between seniors and their family’s home is less than 20 min of drive, so you or other family members can make frequent visits to the senior’s house. If anything happens, the families can also respond rapidly to the emergency, which will give you a lot of reassurance of letting your loved one stay at home.

– Hires a caregiver or has a family to take care of him or her:

If you are the primary caregiver to your family, and you are getting more and more stressed about your workload, it is time to hire someone to alleviate your pressure.

“All You Need to Know About Long Term Care in 2022” There are many sources of home care options. You can consider hiring an agency to arrange a caregiver, or hire a private caregiver yourself, see our blogs on “How to choose a home care service” to see which one suits your needs. 


– Has stable and sufficient income or financial support

Staying at home comfortably does cost a pretty penny. As we mentioned, all these home remodellings, home care and the facilities that your loved one needs at home adding up could cost more than living in a long-term care home. So, make sure your senior family has a stable income, such as a pension, or any financial support from family and the government, so that he or she can afford these expenses.

– Able to manage bills or has a family to manage the bills

Seniors are prone to financial abuse such as fraudulence or exploitation. Also, they might forget to pay bills or make unnecessary purchases due to aging. In that, it is essential that they have someone reliable to manage their expenses and bills if they can’t do it on their own. Financial security is just as important as physical security, and your loved one might need your help with it.

At the End:

Staying at home or moving to a long-term care home could be highly personal. It is better to talk it through with your loved one and find the best solution that’s beneficial for both of you. If you would like to know how to communicate with your senior family, see our previous post on “How to Communicate with Seniors” to find the guide.





Cindy knows it’s time to look for a caregiver for her mom when she gets busier after her promotion. So, she talks about it during lunch with her colleagues to see if they have ever hired one for their parents.

“I had an awful experience with hiring a caregiver,” one of her colleagues replied. “The PSW was always late, and one time, my mom waited an hour for her to show up.”

“Same here!” agreed another colleague. “My dad always received a different caregiver every time, and they didn’t know how to handle him because of different communication styles.”

Cindy is scared. And if you are looking for a caregiver just like Cindy, you’d probably be scared by the conversation, too.

However, not all caregivers are tarred with the same brush, and it depends heavily on the home care agency that you are hiring. It is important to find the right agency in the first place to avoid these undesirable outcomes.

In this article, CareStory will provide you with ten essential questions to ask over the phone when you contact a home care agency and how you examine their responses. If you would like an in-depth version of the question list, check out our “25 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Care Agency” blog post to find out more information. 

Top 10 Questions To Ask Over the Phone When Hiring a Home Care Agency

1. What type of services do you provider 

Although most agencies provide similar services such as bathing, grooming, companionship, etc., it is good to know if they can handle your loved one’s situation if he or she has special needs. Some agencies have specific caregivers that focus on dementia care and mobility assistance, so ask them if they offer the option if you have such concerns.

2. How much is the cost per hour? And what are the minimum hours per shift? 

Price is always something you should ask first. The price of home care in the GTA can vary drastically, and the minimum hours are usually 3 to 4 hours. Choose the one that you think the price and duration are reasonable.

3. Is there a discount for overnight/full-time/extra hours care?

Some agencies offer discounts for full-time (24 hrs) or extended hours of care. If you

know your family needs long-term care, it’s good to ask about the discount. You

can compare the rate of different agencies but note that the one offering a discount

does not necessarily mean it is the best option.

 4. Are the caregivers licensed and insured?

A legit home care agency should ensure their caregivers are licensed as Personal Support Workers (PSWs) or Registered Nurses (RNs) so that they are properly trained. Also, the caregivers should be bonded and insured so that they can protect themselves from theft, damage, or loss.

5. What if my caregiver is late or doesn’t show up on a scheduled shift?

Being punctual is something that a caregiver should achieve. But rare events might happen sometimes. If lateness or a no-show occurs, the agency should have a backup plan that sends a secondary caregiver or offers late-minute coverage to your family. In most cases, home care agencies should have a clock-in and clock-out system that tracks every caregiver’s arrival and departure at each home.

6. Can you accommodate for language/cultural preferences?

If your loved one only speaks another language or holds strong cultural values, it is good to look for a caregiver that can communicate with your family and share the same cultural background. It is vital in building connections and understanding what should be concerned in the caregiving process. A good home care agency should be culturally inclusive and can meet different clients’ needs.

7. Will it is the same caregiver visiting each time?

Consistency in caregiving is key. If there is a different caregiver visiting each time, there will be misunderstandings and confusion in communication. It also shows that the agency’s turnover rate is high, which is not a good sign.

8. Who should I contact if there are concerns or complaints?

It is not uncommon that your loved one doesn’t get along with a caregiver or for something unexpected to happen in the caregiving process. If it is either an emergency event or a complaint, the agency should have a well-developed system to handle your situation and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

9. What insurance do you accept?

While most home care agencies don’t accept insurance, there are still some of them that do. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they accept health insurance to alleviate your financial burden.

10. How soon can you place a caregiver?

Some agencies may have a waitlist in your region, while others can provide care immediately. So choose one that suits your family’s situation; good care never requires you to wait too long.

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    Contact us

    Call us


    Visit us anytime

    294 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada

    Send us an email


    Sign up for Medicare newsletter to receive all the news offers and discounts.

      Social networks





      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.

      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.