I have personal knowledge of the issues mentioned in this article. I am a 75-year-old primary caregiver to a wife who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Those with a loved one with any form of dementia will understand. And those who are not will be much the same as I was until about six years past – sad but really don’t understand what is actually involved.
Dementia is not the only problem. At-home care for any of the debilitating diseases, such as Parkinson’s or MS, is very difficult and all-consuming on a 24/7/365 basis.
My wife has been waiting almost a year for space in a four- to six-hour, once-a-week program. The demand far outnumbers the spaces available, and there is no relief in sight.
We have a prime minister who campaigned saying his party would fund more programs to keep seniors out of care and in their homes. Really, is that why my wife and many others are waiting for programs – any programs – to make their lives a little more bearable?
Those working in the ‘system’ are doing the best they can with limited resources. Things are not getting better. As baby boomers age, there will be even more pressure on every part of seniors care and our medical system.
I am disturbed that our self-serving politicians – and particularly our ‘selfie’ prime minister – continue to shovel buckets of money at every program internationally that make them look good in the eyes of the world, but fail to service their own citizens. Maybe money that went to the Aga Khan Foundation should have stayed in Canada and helped with the plethora of social problems we see daily: endless lineups for medical services, substance abuse, First Nations without potable water, an overburdened education system and on and on…
Am I bitter? Absolutely I am. I started working and paying taxes at 14, never used any government-funded programs other than the medical system and, even now, 61 years later, continue to pay taxes so the money can be wasted on things other than the citizens of Canada.
All I ask is that my wife have four hours a week in a day-care program – not for me but for her. The time may be a nice break for me, but it is far more important to her. She also needs time away from me, to be with other people and see and hear new things. Is that too much to ask?
Please forgive the inarticulate submission. I am trying to write this and look after my wife at the same time.
And please understand I am not complaining about my or my wife’s lot in life. It is the card we have been dealt and we will continue to move along as best we can. I believe as long as we have each other to share some simple laughter and the fading memories of 51 years of marriage, our life still provides many rewarding moments.
Andrew Johnston, Surrey