Category Archives: caregiving

Caregiver Resources B.C. Canada

For many of us who are caregivers it’s not only the physical and emotional care of those we love, it’s also navigating the medical and legal systems that can be time-consuming and exhausting.

The effort and time it takes to sort through various systems in order to first determine what resources are available, and then the protocol of accessing them, is a huge part of the caregiving process.

Here are some links which may prove to be helpful in finding and using those resources:

 

 

 

  • In the lower mainland, Vancouver Coastal Health provides caregiver support as well as other services:  http://www.vch.ca/your-care/home-community-care/care-options/caregiver-support

 

  • Always remember that at your local Hospice Thrift Shops you can usually find brochures outlining the hospice support services listed in your area.  For example, here is an overview of services provided by the Surrey Hospice Society: “We serve the people of Surrey and those who access end-of-life care in Surrey British Columbia. Our Volunteers work in the community, at Laurel Place Residential Hospice and in the Tertiary Palliative care unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital. In addition to the supports and services we offer those facing end-of-life, we also provide respite, support and grief counselling to their friends, family and loved ones. Our support is on-going and far-reaching. We provide companions for the journey.”

 

I’m sure you get the idea.  For hospice services in your area, just google the name of your town or district and ‘hospice society’.

Resources are out there.  Do take the time to access them.  We are so fortunate now to be able to look things up on the computer to get an idea of the services offered and how they might fit our needs.  Phoning the agency in question before setting out can also be very helpful.

These resources are intended for your use, so don’t hesitate to find those that fit your needs and go for it!

If you have any information regarding additional resources please don’t hesitate to email me at: margaretjean64@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Compassionate Care Givers: The Precious Gift of Time.

Being a caregiver is demanding.  Sometimes overwhelming. And sometimes?  Extremely gratifying.

It can be an emotional roller coaster.  For instance, one woman described it as being in “Dementia Prison” with her mother. Another, who cared for a husband whose condition demanded 24 hour care told me, “but I love him so much.”

Many people who are dealing with their loved one’s condition alone often feel drained and exhausted. Being constantly tired and depleted of positive energy can lead to chronic depression.

So, you may ask, what are the positive aspects of this care giving journey?

Consider this: This week, my friend’s only child, her thirty-four year old son, Shaun, died suddenly and unexpectedly.

He had a stellar career in Ottawa, working with the Prime Minister and cabinet members.  His portfolios included the Yukon and the three territories.  People who knew and worked with him describe him as a gentle, incredibly knowledgeable, go-to guy if you had questions, or needed assistance.

At this young age, he had run campaigns for MPs and provided research for political speech makers.  He made and kept his friends: those from university, from campaigning, from his work in Ottawa and from his home in Vancouver, on the West Coast.

This brilliant, considerate and loving young man is no longer with us. Because his passing was completely unanticipated, there was no time to say goodbye, to make a final connection, to reach out to him, or for him to reach out to others.  In an instant he was gone, and with him, that cherished light in his mother’s life.

Yes, care giving is demanding; sometimes depressing, sometimes exasperating while at other times hopeful and surprisingly rewarding. But above all, attending to our loved ones, and on occasion our not-so-loved-ones, affords us the time to reflect, and upon reflection the possibility of re-configuring our relationships.

The gift of time is precious. It allows us to say goodbye. It is an opportunity for closure for both ourselves and our loved ones.

Are You A Caregiver? How Do You Know?

In North America it is estimated that the over 65 population will double to 70 million by 2030. In the US alone, the home care provided by family members or other unpaid members of the general public (friends, neighbours) in 2007 was already worth an estimated 370 billion dollars.

So, who is a caregiver?  Are you a caregiver?

According to the American Family Caregiver Alliance you are a caregiver if you provide these services:

  • Buy groceries, cooks, cleans house or does laundry for someone who needs special help doing these things? (This sounds like what I did for every husband I ever had).

  • Help a family member get dressed, take a shower and take medicine?

  • Help with transferring someone in and out of bed, helps with physical therapy, injections, feeding tubes or other medical procedures?

  • Make medical appointments and drives to the doctor and drugstore?

  • Talks with the doctors, care managers and others to understand what needs to be done?

  • Spend time at work handling a care-giving (patient) crisis or making plans to help a family member who is sick?

  • Is the designated “on-call” family member for problems?

Sadly, you are not unique if while performing these types of services, you juggle work and family.  Some of you may find yourselves in the “sandwich” generation, that is, taking care of parents and children at the same time.

All of these factors can be further exacerbated by the type of illness the patient suffers, by availability of facilities and professionals, by cultural approaches and also by livng a long distance away from the person who requires your care.

Want to read more about caregiving?  To find some examples of complaints and kudos and good tips about caregiving and possible resources?  Then go to:

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiving

I hope this helps!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

A Compassionate Insight Into What Dying People Want by Dr. David Kuhl

What Dying People Want is a doctor writing about his very human journey through the suffering of the terminally ill and the desired emotional and practical responses from health care professionals. Most importantly, Kuhl addresses situations and how to approach them for best results, always bearing in mind that what the patient most seeks is some sense of control over his life and the treatment of his illness.

I remember it was always a hassle getting out the door on the morning of Chris’ doctor’s appointments.  He liked them to be early in the day, I think because he felt best able to cope then–his energy levels seemed slightly higher in the morning, though he soon flagged.

We lived a good thirty kilometres drive through rush hour traffic, and at the end, paid horrendous hospital parking lot fees.  Then there were the interminable hallways, steps and elevators to negotiate within St. Paul’s. For Chris, these sessions were exhausting.  Near the end, the toll on him was severe.

But he had been treated at St. Paul’s from the night of his very first heart attack, when we lived in the West End five minutes drive from the facility. And in the end, the young doctor who had treated him then became the head of St Paul’s Cardiology Department, and in the years between, he and Chris built up a good rapport.

So David Kuhl’s book, based on research done at St. Paul’s struck a chord with me.

Several aspects of the book appeal to me.  Kuhl introduces each chapter with quotes from patients, followed by an anecdote, legend or myth that speaks to the theme of each chapter.  He uses his own experiences and those of terminally ill people to illustrate their concerns.

I found it to be practical and profound. Any comments you may have on the book would be appreciated.  Just email me at margaretjean64@google.com

These next few blogs are based Dr. David Kuhl’s book, What Dying People Want., based on his research and experience as a palliative care physician serving at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, B.C.

Caretaker, Caregiver?  

The next 3 posts are guest posts from Gemma Tammas, a continuous narrative in three parts.

Enjoy!

by Gemma Tamas          2011 October ©

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

My career started when I was only eighteen years old looking after my husband, and soon, taking care of my two boys. All of that without having to take a course and study for; it was simply ‘learning on the job.’ But, if I would have given a test, ‘an aptitude test’ called nowadays, I would have passed, because all you needed was love and I had plenty of that. Through the years while ‘training on the job,’ I made many mistakes, too many to count, but my love never suffered by it, my passion to give unscathed.

Now, in my twilight years, I am still taking care of Tom, my husband close to sixty years, as he fights his many sicknesses, with great determination, as he fought his way through many obstacles and hardships during his lifetime. Our marriage was not a perfect one but we are together with a strong bond, called love, forever.

It started four years ago when one morning Tom woke up with high temperature, shaking feverishly, talking nonsense, but still he had enough strength or stubbornness to insist to drive himself to the Vancouver General Hospital. It would have been futile to argue with him to go to a much closer one. Swaying on his feet, jingling his car keys in his hand he dropped them and fell into my arms. With my brother’s help we lifted him into the car, where he slumped down. By the time we arrived at the hospital thirty-five kilometers away, he was unconscious and stayed that way for three days. During that time he was in isolation as the doctors didn’t know if he was infectious until they put him through rigorous testing, while battering me repeatedly with their questions. Was Tom drinking? Was he an alcoholic? I was shocked, offended by their interrogations as Tom never drank, maybe a glass of wine with his meal.

When his fever was under control and his tests showed no infectious disease, he was shifted to the geriatric ward. I spent my time by his bedside from morning till night. Every morning he greeted me with stories about the happenings on the ward the previous night. “Do you know,” he mumbled, “that old Chinese woman in the next bed is a drug dealer conducting her business on her cell phone at night, and another was murdered. Last night.” He whispered in my ears. “Two men, dressed in black, came and killed her.” His eyes filled with horror. “You have to get me out of here,” he begged. “I’ll be the next one, you’ll see.”

Chris–November 1942 to March 2015

Chris 4

chris Deb at Jamie's wedding 2 Chris 2 ???????????????????????????????

This is the man who was the love of my life for thirty years.  He will be deeply missed.

In memory of him, and in aid of caregivers everywhere, I intend to continue my blog discussing and hopefully shedding light on the many issues and challenges that caregivers face.

The articles will continue to be about my journey with Chris in the last nine months of his life, and include other caregivers I have met along the way, their associations, resourcefulness, dilemmas and solutions.

I hope you stay with me.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

To Travel or Not To Travel? The Caregiver’s Question.

12 September, 2014

 I’m trying to plan a trip for us to see his son and my sister and brother-in-law.  Chris wants to go because it’s probably the last time I’ll get to see everyone.

I’d like to honour this wish, but there are issues.  To do so we’d be changing flights in two large airports, flight changes involving wheelchairs and luggage and food appropriate to his diet.

And once we get to either of the two destinations he’ll need time to recuperate; days that he will want to spend in bed.  There will be no bath bench, and it’s unlikely there will be six extra pillows to keep him fairly upright at night, and or chairs with arms to help him hoist himself up.

These are younger people we’ll be visiting—healthy jogging, hiking types.  The homes will not be geared to the needs of a person with mobility issues.

And then there’s the airfare.  In his condition, he does not qualify for travel insurance, and because of his condition, since I am travelling with him, neither do I.

 And if he has another heart attack or what the medical professionals refer to as ‘an event’, the trip will be off and we’ll be out that money.

Taking all this in, he has a suggestion.  Let’s drive down.

To Arizona and California from our Vancouver, BC home?

This is a man who no longer has the energy to drive to his favourite nearby US location, Tulalip, Washington.  It’s a two hour drive one way, and last time we went?  He turned around half way there because he was so tired, he just wanted to come home to bed.

So now we’re going to make it to San Diego or Phoenix?

I think his son has to come here, and my sister and her husband, too.  I think I should ask them.  So he can say his goodbyes.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.