Mr and Mrs Smith

text only
Age at interview
62
Age at start of caregiving activities
52

Mr & Mrs Smith (62 and 64 years) are married and have no children. They are the only caregivers of Mrs Smith’s mother. Mr Smith was an engineer and Mrs Smith worked as a client service auditor. They are currently retired. Mrs Smith’s mother had a brain stroke (CVA) 12 years ago. From that time on, the couple had been actively involved in caring for her in their home until they moved her to an assisted home in order to travel to Holland to provide temporary care for Mr Smith’s mother. Currently Mrs Smith’s mother is in a private care facility as the previous care facility was not meeting the couple’s requirements.

The Smiths assumed their caregiver role when Mrs Smith’s mother had a stroke 12 years ago while she was alone in the bathroom. Mrs Smith was lucky to find her just before they were leaving for a holiday. Her mother rehabilitated partially after one month but never fully recovered from the stroke. In fact, she became increasingly dependent.

Some factors complicated the Smith’s caregiving situation, such as: travelling overseas to care for Mr Smith’s mother; the fact that Mrs Smith’s mother lost her English speech after the stroke; the wait time of four years for nursing homes close to them; and the need for siblings to travel long distances to visit and help with their mother’s care.

In the years following her stroke, Mrs Smith’s mother’s health situation deteriorated notably as she started to forget more and more things. The couple agreed that it would be best for her to move to an assisted living home, where she lived for a while until she broke her arm due to a fall. She had to have surgery on her arm, which clearly affected her independence. It was clear to Mr and Mrs Smith that she could no longer stay by herself even if she was assisted. However, it was very hard to convince the healthcare system that this was the case. The couple was dealing with different social workers in every hospital department, and each of them had to evaluate Mrs Smith’s mother’s state, resulting in a lengthy and complicated process. The Smiths explained that the entire procedure would have clearly been more effective if only one social worker had evaluated the patient’s state and shared this information as needed. Furthermore, the health professionals should have carefully listened to the caregivers, the only ones well aware of the state of the patient’s condition before and after the fall.

During this evaluation period Mrs Smith’s mother had four more broken bones as a result of falls. Only after these falls did the hospital acknowledge the problem and make it possible for her to go to a nursing home. Mrs Smith’s mother needed particular emotional support during those times, and all communications in the hospital and in the nursing home had to be translated from English to Gujarati. After a number of visits to the nursing home, the Smiths realised that the home was not practically located, which led to a decision to transfer her to a private care facility. Mrs Smith found a lot of help from the local caregivers group and is now happy that after a long time, she can finally go for holidays with her husband.

The Smiths still feel that they have to stay on top of things to make sure that Mrs Smith’s mother receives the best possible care. The current and future  situation for Mrs Smith’s mother’s care in Canada worries them, as they think that the current society is not prepared to provide care for these types of patients, and will not necessarily have the time and interest to care for the elderly.

Text transcripts

And there’s nonsense of reassessing and assessing and assessing, that should be done with. It should be one assessment and that’s it. And somebody should follow that, and then they can see the difference. See, if somebody drops somebody on you, you don’t know how she was before and after because you never seen her before. And that’s why they fouled up in the hospital, because an old bitty in a wheelchair was rolled in there. “Well yeah, she’s very old and she doesn’t talk much English.” Well, most of them, you don’t speak English, right? […]

But when my mother-in-law got into the… more

And there’s nonsense of reassessing and assessing and assessing, that should be done with. It should be one assessment and that’s it. And somebody should follow that, and then they can see the difference. See, if somebody drops somebody on you, you don’t know how she was before and after because you never seen her before. And that’s why they fouled up in the hospital, because an old bitty in a wheelchair was rolled in there. “Well yeah, she’s very old and she doesn’t talk much English.” Well, most of them, you don’t speak English, right? […]

But when my mother-in-law got into the… more

Mr. Smith: Yeah, I think it’s extremely important that this whole issue of caregiving is put more into the publicity—on TV, on the radio, whatever kind of programs. Make movies about it. Doesn’t matter what. People need to be aware that this can happen to you. This whole caregiving business, it was a complete surprise to me really. I’d never thought about getting stuck in this kind of stuff. I mean you never think of it.

Mrs. Smith: Like getting old, you never prepare for it either.

Mr. Smith: You’re not prepared.

more

Mr. Smith: Yeah, I think it’s extremely important that this whole issue of caregiving is put more into the publicity—on TV, on the radio, whatever kind of programs. Make movies about it. Doesn’t matter what. People need to be aware that this can happen to you. This whole caregiving business, it was a complete surprise to me really. I’d never thought about getting stuck in this kind of stuff. I mean you never think of it.

Mrs. Smith: Like getting old, you never prepare for it either.

Mr. Smith: You’re not prepared.

more

We were doing joint caregiving, so we would just bounce [the difficult moments] off. Right now I find with my health, it is really hard because I’m totally drained of energy. [So], we take turns. Sometimes we just talk it over. Like today, I was really upset with what happened at the home. I came and I cried and I went a bit, “Alright!” It keeps on going on in your mind right? 

[…] With the experience we had with my mom, we were able to ask the similar questions back in Holland. I, primarily, was with my mom. I was the one who was looking at the resources and whatnot, so I… more

We were doing joint caregiving, so we would just bounce [the difficult moments] off. Right now I find with my health, it is really hard because I’m totally drained of energy. [So], we take turns. Sometimes we just talk it over. Like today, I was really upset with what happened at the home. I came and I cried and I went a bit, “Alright!” It keeps on going on in your mind right? 

[…] With the experience we had with my mom, we were able to ask the similar questions back in Holland. I, primarily, was with my mom. I was the one who was looking at the resources and whatnot, so I… more

The biggest deal is always you to familiarize yourself with the care available and how to organize it, how to start it, to arrange for home care, to arrange for all these things that is really the basic problem that you are faced with.

It’s a huge amount of stress [being a caregiver]. You have to deal with lots of things that are not there. You have to invent care, you have to organize care, you have to help with some, and you have to deal with a lot of processes and procedures, which don’t fit—they don’t connect. Sometimes [healthcare professionals] talk like a bunch of robots out… more

The biggest deal is always you to familiarize yourself with the care available and how to organize it, how to start it, to arrange for home care, to arrange for all these things that is really the basic problem that you are faced with.

It’s a huge amount of stress [being a caregiver]. You have to deal with lots of things that are not there. You have to invent care, you have to organize care, you have to help with some, and you have to deal with a lot of processes and procedures, which don’t fit—they don’t connect. Sometimes [healthcare professionals] talk like a bunch of robots out… more

Mrs. Smith: I didn’t know where to turn and I felt like it was only me. I kind of thought I needed help, and sometimes men and women are not on the same plane. The men usually kind of take it lighter than women do. Women take it more seriously or more emotionally.

Mr. Smith: And when it’s your own mom, that also makes a difference.

Mrs. Smith: More emotionally, so therefore I was finding it really hard. Then I was kind of saying, “I’m going to the Caregivers’ Society.” So we meet once a month, last Monday of the month, and… more

Mrs. Smith: I didn’t know where to turn and I felt like it was only me. I kind of thought I needed help, and sometimes men and women are not on the same plane. The men usually kind of take it lighter than women do. Women take it more seriously or more emotionally.

Mr. Smith: And when it’s your own mom, that also makes a difference.

Mrs. Smith: More emotionally, so therefore I was finding it really hard. Then I was kind of saying, “I’m going to the Caregivers’ Society.” So we meet once a month, last Monday of the month, and… more