On Tuesday, September 15th, the Vancouver Sun ran an article carrying the following headline: B.C. seniors have high levels of anger and worry, and quotes the Seniors Advocate in B.C. on a number of topics. Perhaps the most striking and telling part of the article is the photograph in the heading, which shows a very elderly woman with her walker, struggling to keep up with a somewhat less elderly man who is carrying a little dog and its lead. Into the article, we learn that this elderly woman is the care recipient and her son is the family caregiver…and I am guessing that the tiny doggy is the companion of the mom.
With people living longer than used to be the case, this scenario has become a new norm, with grey or white haired senior citizen children of white or grey haired parents. In fact this scenario is so prevalent that when we are boating with friends, or gathering with our collector cards buddies, or stepping out for a bite to eat, seldom does it happen that the topic of caregiving does NOT arise. I find it most interesting that just like with child rearing, there are good stories to tell, and there is a unspoken understanding that what is talked about around that table (or whatever) will stay around that table (or whatever). And, almost always we can help one another relieve our stress or find another way to deal with an issue that we have not been able to resolve on our own.
Ever since I became a family care giver, my fear has been that as we senior family caregivers take upon us this caregiving role, our health care systems will be quite happy to step away from committing resources to build more care facilities, justifying that move by offering more at-home support to the caregivers and recipients. Yes, of course we need more resources to enable us to keep our elders at home as long as possible, but we also need to know that the facilities will be available to our elders and us when we need them.
The position of Seniors Advocate is in place in British Columbia, and I strongly recommend that all of us already serving the role of family caregiver, along with those likely to be fulfilling that role, get to know the people working in that office, read the reports from the Seniors Advocate, and feel free to be in touch and to let your voices be heard.
So, check out this office and info at: