Caring for Others: The Reality of Dementia and Alzheimer's

21 December, 2016

Taken from John Ivison’s Comment in the Ottawa Citizen Saturday Nov.19/16 titled: Mental Health Action Plan in the Works

Taken from John Ivison’s Comment in the Ottawa Citizen Saturday Nov.19/16 titled:

Mental Health Action Plan in the Works

From the moment I started reading this article I was captivated by the stories shared by the caregivers who are dealing with dementia, in their families.  I found it heartbreaking and disturbing knowing that this situation may only get worse.

Starting with Kathleen Jamieson’s story who thought she could cope with her husband’s dementia diagnosis and what she discovered was she wasn’t able to get access to the home care help she needed and “nearly buckled under what has become known as ‘caregiver burnout’”. She describes her experience of trying to access publicly funded home care from a system she called ‘callous and cruel’, leaving her feeling as though she had post traumatic stress disorder.

This was a story that the House of Commons health committee heard repeatedly. The hope is to establish an action plan for dealing with “the grey tsunami of mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease that threatens to engulf many developed countries.

According to Ivison, when it comes to dementia; “there’s no cure and no effective drugs to slow dementia’s onset. Two-thirds of the sufferers are women as are 70 per cent of caregivers.”

Tanya Levesque is a 41-year-old who has been looking after her Mother since she was diagnosed with dementia three years ago.  She had to take a leave of absence to provide homecare which had a significant negative impact on their family income.  When she herself was unable to care for her Mother due to her own hospitalization, her Mother had to be moved into a long-term care facility.  “Her Mother has since been moved seven times because of the behavioural issues that Levesque believes were made worse by constant upheaval.”

These stories and many more like them paint a very sad picture of what many caregivers are currently dealing with, their isolation and the absence of effective support that jeopardizes their health and financial futures. They also fuel our concerns as we look at all the “what if’s” in our own lives. What if this were to happen to me, my partner, my spouse, my parent, how will we cope? 

What resources are currently available and how have you addressed this within your own Financial Life Plan?  Have you considered what it would cost you both financially and emotionally if you had to deal with either you or your spouse needing care in your home or a facility?  Please let us know if you are interested in discussing this with us further.