Friday, 15 September 2017 06:35

Seniors’ care will be a future challenge in Sask.

Written by  Andrea Carol, Opinion
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Gladys Kathleen Dech is shopping for a lift chair for her new room at Quappelle House Nursing Home in Regina.  Gladys Kathleen Dech is shopping for a lift chair for her new room at Quappelle House Nursing Home in Regina. 

Grandma, 90, stood up quickly from a sitting position on her carefully made-up bed in her nursing home in Regina as if she was 20 years old. Much to my surprise, my words came rolling out of my mouth.

“Grandma, you just stood up effortlessly.” Grandma replied promptly, “Do you think I am an invalid?”
Thinking about the question she asked me, I would normally have laughed and brushed it off. Given the growing number of elderly people in Canada, my view of the aged was about to change.
The euphemism that “seniors” are fumbling and slow is really an inaccurate lens that we use to look through when we visit our aging parents and grandparents.
The issue I speak to is filial obligation. Calling this mature woman Grandma, is the highest compliment that could be bestowed on a woman 90 years young. The matriarch of her beloved family, her golden years show experience in every crack and line in her smile.
Our aging population isn’t a statistic or number but deserve to be honored for their role and status at their great age. The Confucian obligation to care for our elderly is overwhelmed by economic and cultural pressures. Is this an excuse or something we can’t control?
Affordable geriatric care facilities are quickly filling up in Saskatchewan. With the decline in availability of long term affordable care beds, the families of seniors like my Grandma find it increasingly difficult with long wait lists, not to mention locating a nursing home bed close to home. While most seniors find it tremendously difficult to make a transition to a nursing home, Grandma’s attitude is an example for us all.
“It’s just another phase of life,” Grandma stated. “And the good part is that you get to learn something new. I have nothing to complain about here. And the food, I don’t have to buy it, cook it or clean up after. It tastes good. That could be a problem,” she laughed.
Grandma’s daughter, Brenda Tataryn of Swift Current, one of five children in the Dech family, resides in Swift Current and is a health care provider who works with seniors and their families. Experiencing difficult transitions with her own mother, she describes how it feels as a family member.
“I recognize the necessity of a nursing home but it’s heartbreaking to see the one who cared for me growing up, no longer able to care for herself. I am grateful that the process was as smooth as it was. There are so many seasons in a person’s life, it’s difficult to watch my Mom entering the winter of her life,” Tataryn said. “As a health-care provider, I have helped many families with the transition from partial care to full care for their parents. We have laughed and cried together. Many have said they now feel like they are the parent and their mom or dad the child. They never want to see their loved one lose their dignity and independence. I feel rewarded when I can offer a friendly ear and a hug as they go through difficult decisions”.
According to a report by CIBC, “The trend is clear. An aging population combined with longer life spans and strained social services has in recent years seen more and more Canadians taking on the role of caregiver for their aging parents.”
While wait lists for nursing homes are long and hard to come by, the provincial government offers assistance through Individualized Funding to families who need help. It is believed small changes in living spaces and at-home support from professionals can lengthen a senior’s time at home for months or even years. This is a great way to honour Grandma and Grandpa as they age, maintaining their independence, dignity and overall health. They are not invalids or fumbling old people, they are the patriarchs and matriarchs of our families and they deserve honor and respect as they go in to the winter of their lives.

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