Friday, May 21, 2010

Growing Old Then and Now

Sarah Maclean 1825-1912 in 1912.

It is being reported in the that almost 50 percent of senior Canadians in long term care facilities are depressed. This information comes from a newly released study out of the Canadian Institute for Health Information. I've been reading and contributing to the blogs, because I am, right now, dealing with an aged, debilitated parent. Indeed, my sister in law, my husband and I spent yesterday moving furniture around so that my father in law can have the master bedroom and ensuite. The day before I found a hospital bed for him from the local NOVA (VON), who delivered it in a day with the help of the local volunteer fire department. My father in law who had a stroke, is about to be released from hospital.

This all ties into Flo in the City, my middle school novel about a girl coming of age in the 1910 era based on the letters of http://www.tighsolas.ca/ because the woman pictured above is Flo's grandmother, who was old and ailing in 1910 and Flo's mom, Margaret, had to sit up nights with her - and this precipitated a feud with her brother in law and sister.

Even back then, aging wasn't any fun at all and the stresses involved with aging parents tore families apart. Indeed, Margaret's situation and others like it in her area may have inspired Mr. Wales, the town tycoon, upon his death in 1917, to leave his money for the erection of an old age home in Richmond Quebec. Margaret's husband, Norman, was the execuator of said will.

The Wales Home still exists up on a hill in Richmond. My husband and I visited it back in 2005, because "Baby Montgomery" born in 1910 in the house beside Tighsolas, was still alive and housed there. She was quite out of it when we visited, sleeping in a chair.

My husband and I found the rest home depressing (as all tend to be) although it had a certain faded elegance. It no doubt was state of the art in the 60's.

I've been busy on the boards, just the other day another report, by the Canadian cancer society, said palliative care across the country was patchwork. My own mother died of bone cancer last year and I was torn apart by the lack of proper care for her despite the great expense. Seems that my mother's situation was not out of the ordinary, not at all. It is a crapshoot out there for people dying of cancer, some get great compassionate low cost care and others do not. The Cancer Society's report outlined what I learned the hard way (and my mother learned the horrible way) that there's little understanding of what palliative care is and should be ideally; that there's a reluctance to give painkillers to dying patients; that palliative care places are good but patients hear about it too late; that home care is sketchy.

We treat animals better than we treat our old people. (I'm not the only one saying that.)