FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25: Caring for a loved one as their health falters and then fades is not an easy task.
Here in Bermuda many of us face this struggle, but why then do we feel so alone?
Why do we not speak out and talk about the unique issues which make caring for our loved ones such a challenge?
My grandfather passed away about 18 months ago.
He was bedridden for three months before he died, making it impossible for my grandmother to care for him independently.
As a family, we realized that my grandparents would not be able to afford the $5,000 per month price tag of a nursing home. (In fact, had we know that my grandfather would only be alive for three months, they probably could have dealt with the cost, but at the time, we had no idea how little time we had left with him.)
Another difficulty was that since my grandfather was not Bermudian, he did not qualify for any Government assistance; a harsh reality given the fact that my grandfather lived and worked here for the vast majority of his working life.
Fortunately, we were able to keep my grandfather home, which is where he died. We were able to “take shifts” during the late afternoons into the night.
During “working hours” we were able to hire some help to look after my grandfather for a couple of hours.
In a way, our family was fortunate that we did not have to go through this for years and years.
Many families do. Many people have to quit their jobs to stay home to look after their loved ones.
Many people get no break whatsoever; caregiving is their life — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Many people suffer terrible health problems from heavy lifting, stress or fatigue.
For so many, life is not easy on this island paradise.
There are so many issues to consider when we talk about looking after our ageing or medically fragile loved ones.
I think that the only way that we can move forward and start to really support each other is by starting to discuss the challenges that we face.
Hopefully, by becoming a unified voice, we can find ways to fill in the gaps that exist within our community.
Age Concern’s Campaign for Successful Ageing is about ensuring that older adults, their families and their caregivers are prepared for the challenging times that may lie ahead.
These times do not have to be so challenging if we plan beforehand and know where to turn when we need help.
For more information on caregiving support and services that can assist you call Age Concern on 238-7525.
Veronica Baptista is a registered nurse and a member of Age Concern Bermuda’s Campaign for Successful Ageing. If you would like to comment on this article or learn more about the Campaign, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.