Jacques

Jacques
Age at interview
88
Age at start of caregiving activities
31

Jacques (88 years old) is widowed and lives with his 57 year-old daughter at home. She has been mentally challenged since birth and has epileptic attacks regularly. Jacques’ daughter goes to a day care centre four days a week and he provides care for her the rest of the time. Jacques is determined to continue to care for her as long as he has the capacity to do so.

Jacques’ daughter attended specialized education programs through most of her childhood. However, at age 14 her school was closed, and it was difficult for Jacques and his wife to find alternatives for her care and education. They did their best to keep her busy with activities at home until she reached the age of 18. During this period, Jacques’ wife became ill, and for three years he cared for both his child and wife. Sadly, his wife died following her illness, and Jacques was left alone to care for his daughter. In general, Jacques has always been able to find the services required for his daughter.

Jacques’ daughter is now attending a local activity program for four days a week. This gives him the necessary time to organize things at home to properly care for her. Among other key responsibilities, Jacques helps his daughter perform her regular housekeeping duties, he cares for her when she has seizures, and he brings her to regular medical appointments. He appreciates and values the strong support system that he has built around him. From his perspective, this has enabled him to make the caregiving a constructive experience as opposed to a negative one. He knows the importance of taking time for himself in order to be fit enough to continue caring properly for his daughter. Thus, when he has some spare time, he enjoys painting - an activity in which he demonstrates great zeal and creativity.

Jacques has never considered placing his daughter in a specialized home or institution. As a father he naturally continued to care for her after his wife died and will continue to do so despite that he recognizes that he is now ageing. Providing care for his daughter is something he will continue to do so no matter what. Having been a positively minded person all his life he does not feel troubled by his situation. He feels that his care has helped him to not age too quickly or develop Alzheimer’s disease, as he never has the time to think about ageing. Jacques knows that he would not be able to do what he does without this inner strength. Throughout his life he has found continuous inspiration and support in his spiritual beliefs. He believes that he has been given his daughter by God and that it is his privilege to help and care for her.

For Jacques, caregiving is a lesson of love; had he not had this love and devotion, he would have never been able to keep caring for his daughter. And he feels that anyone who does not feel this kind of love and devotion should question his or her own readiness to take on such a life-long challenge.

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[...] If we focus, I mean, if we are fixated on the story of my daughter or whatever, I couldn't. If I only had this to think about as we say, but it's not the case. I must always keep a way out for myself, because this is what helps me. Because up until two years ago, she was going to a camp during the summer. She had a 15-day camp in the summer, and things like that. After, when they... when they decided that it was not the youngest, and all that […] Wow! I said, “That's it. We are stuck again.” She was doing well in the camp and all, but only because she still has her own temperament. We can't stop her from having character, right? And even though I put some time aside for... I have to find time for myself if I want to be able to continue. That's it.

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Well, information sources, I had many… I had help with those things, the… rightly from the CLSC, because I had someone who came, and who dropped in. Even sending me things, because I had things made… I noticed one time that she had fallen and she couldn’t bring herself to get back up. I said, “Ah! That’s not convenient.” So, I spoke with the person who came from the CLSC, and she sent me someone who came to show her how to get back to her knees to be able to stand up, and all that. She couldn’t manage to do it. So, she learned that. How to get into the bath, get out of the bath, and all those things. And so… that, I did have help from the CSLC. But once we asked for it, they would send someone for it, and it was very good from that point of view, fortunately, me too because that… Sometimes, when we are parents, we tried hard to show them, sometimes it takes someone who comes from outside to make them understand what there is. So, from that point of view, they are not… We are very good, oh! No, we had very good help for that matter.

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Well, it might keep me from having Alzheimer’s. No, not really. No, but only the positive aspects, it’s that it… I can tell you one thing, caring for my daughter, it has kept me from ageing. It didn’t force me to age; it kept me from ageing. I have that impression. Because I’m taking care of her, I don’t have the time to think that I’m getting older, or whatever. I don’t have time. So, I think that’s the positive aspect to caregiving. For some, it will make them sick, but for me it’s the opposite. It gave me the motivation I needed. And having met these people—having told my story to them, got help and all that—that really helped me as well. And I think that…my temperament is such that I am not negative. I’m more positive, so… I have everything connected, that’s what she gave me as means, so I try, as much as possible, to love my daughter, and to help her, and to keep going. That’s what’s important.

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Negative? What would they be? Well, the negative aspect, it’s obviously that we are forced. That is of course when you have a child like that, sometimes you are not free like you would have been otherwise. But, that is what I find the only negative point. That’s it. I find that it’s… Obviously, it create obligations, and then, if we don’t know how to organize ourselves, well, it will be terrible. It will be terrible because you will be in over your head […] You won’t be able to do anything. But you must know how to take it, then otherwise, it’s certain that it will become a negative aspect with too much. You are caught in the water, you are in up to… But when you were caught with… But when you seriously think about it, and that you have the help you need, it’s not so negative. It’s not negative. You know, I find that it’s constructive.