The Cost of Caregiving

Irene and Keith’s Story

“I live under constant stress, not knowing what kind of day we’re going to have.”

For Irene Murray, who’s caring for Keith, her husband with dementia, that statement sums it up.  “I just never thought it would be this hard.”

For someone who has never experienced it first hand, it can be difficult to imagine just how demanding it can be to care for a spouse with dementia.

You are grieving for the person you’re slowly losing, you’re grieving for the dreams that will never be realized, and you are utterly exhausted because of the round the clock supervision and care your husband or wife needs.

Many of our caregivers describe it as “soul shattering”.

Keith and staff member Melissa having fun at the Seniors Day Program.

Keith and staff member Melissa having fun at the Seniors Day Program.

Keith, who has lost the ability to communicate, is still physically healthy and that means caring for him is even more challenging.  “Sometimes – who knows why – he’ll decide to make a big mess or he’ll hide things around the house.  He has to wear Depends, and I’ve got to help him with that too.  Sometimes he will get frustrated and blames me for whatever has gone wrong.”

Irene never knows what she’ll have to contend with next:  “I often wonder: how am I going to cope? Why am I doing this to myself?  I know that he’s getting much better care at the Acclaim Health Seniors Day Program than he would anywhere else.  I wouldn’t survive without this program.  I can’t give it enough praise – he often goes in grumpy in the morning, but comes out smiling when I pick him up.”

Irene also took advantage of our Caregiver Support and Education courses and one-on-one consultations.  “I highly recommend that people who are faced with this take all of the courses offered by Acclaim Health.  I learned so much.  You learn what you’re going to face and what’s going to happen.  It’s a bit frightening at the beginning, but I found them very, very helpful.  I could also depend on the Caregiver Education Coordinator, Sandi Robinson.  If I had a question, she’d sit and talk with you and offer suggestions on how to handle a situation.”

Until just a few weeks ago, Keith had been attending the Oakville Day Program three days a week.  They were days that Irene could use to meet friends, take an aquafit class, or just recharge.  Because of lengthy waiting lists for the program, three days a week is the maximum we can offer to families.

After almost three years in the Oakville Seniors Day Program, Irene has just made the difficult decision to move Keith into a long term care home.  “Because of the Seniors Day Program and the support I received as a caregiver, I was able to keep Keith at home with me far longer than I would have otherwise.  I’m very grateful for that extra time we had together.”