These days, Canadians are looking for alternatives to long term care homes for their elders. Nursing homes are notoriously depressing, and abuse of elderly patients who cannot report their caregivers is all too common. Many Canadians are hiring elder care planning counselors to help them keep their elderly relatives at home so that long term care can be provided in a familiar, safe environment.
But what if your elderly relative is a widow or a widower, and living at home by themselves is even more depressing than living in a long term care facility, where at least they would have company?
This is exactly the situation that Ellen Besso, who lives in a small town 50 km north of Vancouver, faced when her aging mother could no longer care for herself. Her mother had Alzheimer’s but she also didn’t want to live alone. First Besso placed her mother in a long term care facility in North Vancouver, but her mother went to several other long term care facilities in the region before finally settling into Totem Lodge Extended Care in Sechelt.
Besso wrote a book about her experience trying to find good long term care for her mother, entitled Surviving Eldercare: Where Their Needs End and Yours Begin. Her book chronicles her own emotional struggles as she searched for a safe place for her mother to reside in the Vancouver area.
Besso’s experiences, including feeling guilty over not being able to care for her mother as much as she wanted to and the shocking experience of role reversal as the child parents her parent, are not uncommon for Canadians charged with caring for their elders. While many seniors find themselves in nursing homes or accepting help from PSWs, the vast majority of elder care and long term care in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada is still provided by younger relatives. As of 2007, 2.7 million Canadians were caring for an elderly relative or close friend. 712,000 of these Canadians caring for their elders also still have their own under-25 children at home.
Given the testimonies given by Besso and others in the Vancouver area, Vancouver residents with aging parents are wise to start researching long term care in Vancouver sooner rather than later. Early planning is key for preventing later heartbreak – a sentiment that Ellen Besso would certainly agree with.