Horne: More people caring for loved ones

Horne: More people caring for loved ones

As this role is taken on by more and more of us, we must band together in a more supportive way

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or addiction cannot cope without their support. The term is used in the United Kingdom and I prefer it to the word caregiver to define the growing numbers of people who are finding themselves taking on this role. Over eight million Canadians, 28 per cent of our population are providing this type of support, a great majority of which is for aging parents. As the over 65 population in Canada will double by the year 2030, more and more responsibility will be falling to families to care for a spouse, a parent or other friend or relative.

Becoming a carer can affect your life in so many ways. You are often thrust into this role unexpectedly. Life throws a curve ball and you must pick up the bat and start swinging before you really know what hit you. It can leave you emotionally exhausted because of the strain of seeing someone you care about experiencing pain, distress or discomfort. You can find yourself at a loss of how to carry on, as your own life becomes entwined with the many demands that are presented to you on a day by day basis.

As this role is taken on by more and more of us, we must band together in a more supportive way. We can’t hide from the facts of what is happening, we must begin to share the burdens and the rewards so that we can learn from each other. Feeling alone and isolated is often a big part of the carer’s journey. Sharing our stories out in the open as we gain valuable insights, can only have positive, meaningful results for our own well-being and for those perhaps just beginning their own journey of caring for a loved one.

Once you have travelled the worn path of the carer, you can look back and reflect on all the obstacles you have crossed and see more clearly the moments of rewarding love your heart has been overwhelmed with. Sometimes when in the middle of the storm, this is not so easy to see and you need to reach out to others who have lived to tell the tale. They will let you know that all of the emotions you feel and the challenges that you may find daunting in so many ways, are normal. The words spoken from one who has travelled through the trenches themselves, can be the most uplifting and reassuring talisman to help you find the resilience to keep on keeping on.

My sister shared her own very personal story with me on my Engaging in Aging Radio Show on AM1150 on Aug. 20. Caring for her husband of 43 years following his massive stroke seven years ago through the threat of losing him, the years of rehabilitation that followed and the ultimate need to inevitably reclaim her own life, can only be described as inspirational. Please go to the Engaging in Aging Radio Show Facebook page to have a listen, especially if you find your own resilience being hijacked by the many emotions that can make it hard to stay positive and remember that you are not alone.

Resilience is not just a feeling, it is about conscious choice. A choice we each have the power to make. Deri Latimer, a keynote speaker and author, describes what she sees as the five habits of psychological resilience: 1) Decide what you want 2) Be mindful 3) Choose positive 4) Integrate the experience and 5) Take action. My sister Nancy, spoke eloquently on how she brought each of these habits into reality over seven years to find a place of balance and self-nurturing in her own life with what can only be described as a major life changing event.

Janet Dunnett and her twin sister also learned about resilience through the caring of their mother until her death. Once the reflection time began for Janet, she decided to write a book entitled The Dwindling: A Daughter’s Caregiving Journey To The Edge of Life to share her story. As with my own intense experience of caring for my Mom, Janet was inspired to take action and spread the word to others. She has welcomed true resilience into her life, the knowledge that whatever happens, you can get through it. She will be sharing her story on Engaging in Aging this coming Sunday, Aug. 27 at 9 a.m. and will also be reaching out to the Kelowna community with an informal drop in event at Mosaic Books on Tuesday, Aug. 29 between 3 and 5 p.m. She is eager to talk to people and learn about their carer experiences. She will also be at the Vernon Library on Aug. 30 doing a presentation called Caregiving: A Shared Experience from 7 to 9 p.m.

Resilience is a building process. It fortifies you to search for the meaning underlying any difficulty. We can find strength in each other, but it takes joining together. As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says, “No mud, no lotus.” The flowers may take their time to bloom when you are living in the role of carer, but bloom they will.

Marjorie Horne is the founder of CareSmart Seniors Consulting and host of AM1150’s Engaging in Aging Radio Show. Email her at marjorie@caresmart.ca or call 250-863-9577

Just Posted

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

The administrative headquarters for the Central Okanagan Public Schools. (File photo)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at 2 Central Okanagan Schools

The infected individuals are self-isolating at home

Farming Karma is set to release a line of fruit vodka sodas soon. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna fruit growers expanding line of beverages

Farming Karma is expanding from fruit sodas to fruit vodka sodas

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read