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REBECCA RIOUX: Caring for aging Islanders in silence

Pat Gill stands outside the P.E.I. Atlantic Baptist Home in Charlottetown. She finds the possibility her husband, Brian, who has Alzheimer’s disease, may be relocated to another nursing home unnerving.
(Guardian File Photo)
Pat Gill stands outside the P.E.I. Atlantic Baptist Home in Charlottetown. She finds the possibility her husband, Brian, who has Alzheimer’s disease, may be relocated to another nursing home unnerving.(Guardian File Photo) - Bill McGuire

Shame on government for not taking a leadership role in this growing crisis

HUNTER RIVER

When I heard in the media that 72 people are sitting in hospital waiting for a bed in a long-term care facility, my predicament suddenly made sense.

My dad is 88 years old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in August 2016. I did what I think any child would do, I moved my dad into my home with me. I renovated my home to include an in-law suit in the hopes of maintaining some semblance of independence for him.

He lost his driver’s license in November of the same year so I hired caregivers to take him to and fro. I realized that I can no longer care for my father. He sleeps less than four hours a night, he no longer can cook a hot meal and he struggles significantly with his memory.

When I asked for him to be placed on a waiting list for a provincial bed I was told he doesn’t meet the criteria. He can shower, shave and tend to himself so that means I have no supports from Home Care. He does not wander from my property

so that means I have no supports from Home Care. There is no “home” care available for my dad, no free respite available for me.

I’m grateful for my job that pays me a decent salary and the understanding of my employer for the days I’ve missed during this transition. I pay out of pocket for caregivers through the week and care for my dad myself on the weekends. He has one day at Brecken House (P.E.I. Home) but again that alleviates a day that I’d pay for care but provides no respite for me.

I am beyond angry at previous and current provincial governments. We have known since 1964 that an enormous amount of people will require care. While immigration

is on the rise, those numbers do little when beds are not available.

Our brick and mortar facilities are woefully inadequate for the numbers of seniors currently waiting and with even greater numbers still to come. I have asked again for supports from the province as my health has suffered greatly caring for my father.

I have lost considerable weight, I sleep less than five hours a night and the stress of this responsibility I feel daily in physical manifestations. Still there is no support for me or my father by

the province.

My anger only grows as I’m saving the province money but am getting nothing in return. I am one of a large number of people who are caring for an aging parent in silence. We may have or may not have (in my case), extended family and friends

who can help.

If you are concerned about an aging parent, heed my words – do not take them in. Your parent(s), like my dad, have paid taxes for years. Successive governments have poorly managed our province's finances and I am frankly tired of picking up their slack. Until the full scope of this issue is brought to light publicly, the government will not address it. As I enter my second year caring for my dad I know that it really comes down to me, him and whomever I can afford. I know that soon one or both of us will end up in hospital.

I know I will have asked for help again and again knowing 72 people are ahead of him. Shame on the government for shirking its responsibility. Shame on the government for not taking a leadership role on this growing crisis. Shame on the government for turning it’s back on Island seniors. Shame.

- Rebecca Rioux is a resident of Hunter River

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