Newsletter April 2009

Elder Care Advice From The Managing Director

Volunteer Week is this month and I thought that this would be a wonderful time to pay tribute to countless caregivers who are volunteering their time. It is their contribution that assists many seniors remain in their own homes for as long as possible. It is their contribution that saves the Canadian government thousands of dollars per care recipient. In the recent study published in Healthcare Quarterly Vol 12 No. 2 2009 titled “Who Cares and How Much?” it concluded that the ‘a reasonably conservative estimate of the imputed economic cotnribution of unpaid caregivers for Canada, for 2009, would be $25-26 billion. Further study is needed to identify how this equates to any one’s own particular contribution as it relates to hours provided per day and the market rate to hire someone to complete those tasks. This does not factor in the lost wages and lost employment opportunity. The majority of caregivers provide care willingly- there is however, a cost on a personal and financial level. I believe there is still much to be done to better support and recognize the millions of caregivers who contribute time, energy, love and support, as well as giving up money and economic opportunity in providing care to their loved ones. As a result of the hours provided by so many, care recipients receive a quality of care that cannot be duplicated.

In the article below, I would like to introduce you to two very special people who in addition to being parents, partners, and employees are also caregivers to Carol’s mom and dad.

Caregiver Recognition Goes To: Carol and Al Jewett. Here is their story:
Dad, John (age 86 on April 18) was the full time caregiver to his wife, Doreen (age 83) who had dementia. They managed quite well on their own with John handling all household responsibilities.
One day, John was out on his bicycle and was hit by a car. In addition to orthopaedic injuries, John sustained a severe brain injury. The brain damage was so severe that John could no longer look after himself, let alone his wife.

While John was hospitalized, his only daughter Carol and her husband Al moved into her parent’s home to look after her mother- who became increasingly confused and upset as to why her husband was not at home to be with her.

Carol and Al both worked full time and had to hire help for periods throughout the day so that Doreen would not be alone. They rotated their own schedules so that they could take turns spending as much time as possible with both Doreen and John.

After a lengthy period of rehabilitation and an unsuccessful trial at a retirement residence for a convalescent stay, John wanted to come home. In order to be able to provide the care and support to both her parents that they required, Carol decided to leave her job and she and Al moved back into her parent’s bungalow to look after them.

This was in August 2005. Today, 3 ½ years later, Carol and Al are still living with John. Doreen was placed in a long term care facility in 2007 when her dementia advanced to a point where nursing care was required. Carol and Al take John to see his wife once to twice daily, as it is comforting for all of them.

Carol and Al continue to keep their own home in Newmarket. It is their hope that John will eventually be comfortable staying longer than one overnight with them there. However at this time, that is not the case. He prefers to be in his own familiar surroundings.

Carol and Al are extraordinary people and extraordinary care givers. Their care and commitment to Carol’s parents has allowed them all to enjoy a quality of life and of love that is truly remarkable.

Irene Borins Ash, social worker and photographer has a new book titled “Aging Is Living- Myth Breaking Stories From Long Term Care” Dundurn Press. When seen through the lens of Irene Borins Ash’s camera and expressed in the words of the residents themselves, it is a journey about aging and living. The images and their stories are candid, hopeful, inspiring and myth shattering. Copies are available at Indigo and Amazon.

I hope you have been enjoying these newsletters and I invite you to share them with a friend, colleague and family member. All caregivers need to be recognized for their contributions, however if you know of someone that deserves special recognition, please let me know. Thank you!

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