Do you ever go through something really difficult – I mean “life-altering- wouldn’t- wish- this- on- anyone” –difficult only to turn around and find a way to turn this experience into something good?
That just happened to me last week.
I was invited to come and share my mother’s story to a group of 60+ elder health care professionals who provide assistance and care to seniors exhibiting behaviours related to delirium, dementia and Alzheimer’s. These professionals were brainstorming how we can do things better and fill the gaps in our elder health care system.
While I shared in detail the events of my mother’s journey, these professionals examined where the system succeeded and failed my mother. They discussed how we can make things better in the future for seniors and caregivers.
What a wonderful and emotional privilege. Two days later I tear up just thinking about it. Not only because for so long my mother was ignored while we waited for the right health care doors to open for her, but more than just that. I’m still choking up on the thought that sharing my mother’s difficult journey from hospital to long term care could actually affect policies and practices for future families – maybe it is overly optimistic – but I don’t think so. After all, my mother spent her whole life trying to change the world – why stop now?
After what I saw at this event, I believe that people do care. I believe that while change takes time, that there are intelligent and empathetic people leading health care in Ontario, who are working hard to make things better. I believe that even with less money, there can be more care.
The event also forced me to face the grief and guilt I still carry for the way my mother’s care was mishandled in her hospital days. I was reminded of the complexity of the situation and that I needed to forgive myself and let some stuff go. (Some stuff I didn’t even know that I was still holding onto). I have to say to myself- “You didn’t fail your mother,” and mean it – no matter what anyone may think.
To the professionals who work in the mired and imperfect system on behalf of all caregivers (Ok so I am taking liberties) I say: Don’t be discouraged. Do not give up – We need you and We Thank-You!!
Thank you to all of you who work in psycho-geriatric psychiatry. You really do bring people back to life. Never forget the impact your knowledge has on those in your care and their families.
Thank you to the RN’s, RPN’s and PSW’s for the care you give our parents and spouses. The work you do is vital. You keep our loved ones alive in more ways than one. You are the ones who look past the Alzheimer’s, the loss of bodily functions and connect with people’s hearts. You make someone feel safe, fed, warmed and cared for every single day!
Thank you to all the organizations that support caregivers and families, especially allowing them to keep their loved ones home – even for just a little longer. You help carry such a heavy burden.
I hope that sharing what I have learned from my mother’s journey – the good, the bad and the ugly, just might make another mother’s journey a little better.
I know that is the best tribute I could ever pay to my own mom.