Marteny: 24-hour supervision in demand
I was asked recently to comment on the housing situation for seniors.
My reply did not talk about supportive housing or low-income housing, but rather on the group of seniors with a housing need that’s not so apparent.
These are the seniors who are living in their own homes, in supportive housing or with families but have a level of dementia that makes them no longer safe to live in their environments.
It is only when families try to deal with parents with, for example, dementia that this group is noticed and still only by their families, not the public in general.
While we read in the media about the serious lack of beds required for these seniors, it is one of those situations that people can’t truly comprehend until it is their parents in need of this care.
These families experience a huge emotional and financial cost.
Tjat’s why I believe this group of seniors ares deserving of our attention in meeting their housing needs.
I feel for the homeless seniors who have dementia and no one who could help is aware of them.
The seniors do not require 24-hour nursing care but 24-hour supervision.
They can cause microwave fires, forget to eat even when food is prepared and available, put the wrong type of cream on their faces causing damage to the skin, obsess with shaving until their skin is raw, take hearing aid batteries thinking they are pills, or go for a walk outside and are not able to find their way back.
I work with families who have parents who require 24-hour supervision.
These families are doing the best that they can, but they are increasingly frustrated, burned out and emotionally exhausted.
Trapped in this kind of care cycle, they don’t readily know what options of care there are for their parents.
Families are concerned that their parents have to fall and break a hip or go outside and get lost before their parents can move into a safe facility.
Even when the health care system puts in as many services as possible, the families still worry about their parents because rarely can families be available 24-hours to oversee their parents.
Not everyone is meant to be a caregiver and this could lead to elder abuse.
Families too need to live their lives or there will be illness, missed working days and divorce.
These are costs to society that show up in other ways.
Families need to learn how to cope and take action to help their parents.
They need to join together and become vocal, to realize this is too huge a problem for only the government to solve.
Perhaps it is time that fundraising begins to generate awareness and money for the seniors who currently need this care and for those who will need it in the future.
As with other associations, donations need to come from people and groups who do not think that their parents or they will need this assistance in the future.
Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.