Let­ter on vul­ner­a­ble se­nior elic­its sev­eral re­sponses

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­vice.com

Dear read­ers: A fam­ily’s fears re­gard­ing a hus­band’s in­ad­e­quate care­giv­ing for his wife with de­men­tia brought many re­sponses re­gard­ing vul­ner­a­ble se­niors, a topic that also af­fects younger rel­a­tives as de­ci­sion-mak­ers (April 18):

Reader #1: “It’s pos­si­ble that the hus­band (age 80) may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing cog­ni­tive im­pair­ments of his own, or phys­i­cal is­sues, that may af­fect his abil­ity to care for his wife.

“Their sons should en­cour­age him to see a physi­cian re­gard­ing his own health. He may be sim­ply over­whelmed by the care­giv­ing de­mands. He may be­lieve that he’s solely re­spon­si­ble for his wife’s care, though there may be other av­enues open to him.

“In On­tario, Com­mu­nity Care Ac­cess Cen­tres (CCACs) can of­fer ac­cess to ad­di­tional sup­ports at lit­tle or no charge.

(El­lie: Sim­i­lar agen­cies can be sought in other lo­cales).

“These in­clude help with bathing, laun­dry, adap­ta­tions to the phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, etc. So the woman’s con­cerned sis­ters may con­tact the lo­cal CCAC.

“The hus­band may find it more ac­cept­able to have a third party in­volved rather than hav­ing im­me­di­ate fam­ily tell him that his care is in­ad­e­quate.

“If he’s con­cerned that his wife may be taken away, but with cur­rent wait­ing lists for long term care, a sit­u­a­tion would have to be ex­tremely crit­i­cal, plus there would have to be agree­ment with the de­ci­sion-maker.”

Reader #2: “The hus­band’s abil­i­ties and judg­ment should also be as­sessed by a doctor.

“It’s highly un­likely that the wife is fed, given reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, men­tal and phys­i­cal, and have all hy­giene needs at­tended to.

“Reusing di­a­pers will even­tu­ally cause skin break­down sooner or later.

“The pub­lic health de­part­ment in the area might be able to help also.

“The Alzheimer’s So­ci­ety does pro­vide vis­i­tor or respite care to fam­i­lies car­ing for a loved one, in some ar­eas.

“It’s pos­si­ble that this man will be un­able to con­tinue, so con­tin­gency plans should be made.”

Reader #3: “Be­sides CCACs there is also, in On­tario, an Of­fice of the Pub­lic Guardian and Trus­tee (OPGT) re­gard­ing sit­u­a­tions like these.

“They may be called upon to as­sess the wife, and the hus­band’s ca­pac­ity to help her, or ini­ti­ate other ac­tions to as­sist her.

“If the hus­band’s found to be in­ca­pable as a sub­sti­tute de­ci­sion-maker, then her sons may be­come her de­ci­sion-mak­ers and can be­gin to legally act in her best in­ter­est.

“Even with­out an as­sess­ment of the hus­band, since the sons have power of at­tor­ney, they’re her sub­sti­tute de­ci­sion­mak­ers for per­sonal care, not her hus­band.”

Reader #4: “Re­cently, a condo res­i­dent drowned her­self in her bath­tub.

“She’d moved here sev­eral years ago as a young se­nior, with her hus­band.

“Sud­denly, he died and she be­came dis­rup­tive to any­one she tried to be­friend.

“Ob­vi­ously, the hus­band had man­aged her med­i­ca­tions for her bipo­lar dis­or­der.

“She prob­a­bly didn’t take them since. As a re­sult, ev­ery­one shunned her.

“She spent stints in the lo­cal hospi­tal’s psy­chi­atric ward, but there was no fol­lowup.

“Ap­par­ently, her fam­ily could do noth­ing with her, and she re­fused to move into a care fa­cil­ity.

“Once gone from the hospi­tal, no one fol­lowed up on her state of mind. There has to be a way to help some­one like this poor woman.”

El­lie: This last re­sponse takes the case of the wife with de­men­tia to a fur­ther issue: When there’s no fam­ily in­volve­ment, com­mu­ni­ties have to find ac­cept­able le­gal means to care for se­niors who can’t be on their own.


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