Ottawa Citizen

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“ Something as simple as putting your hand on their shoulder or encouragin­g them to walk goes miles for them.”

He sees the elderly as a “ forgotten part of society,” and to him that is an injustice. “ They built the society we are privileged to live in now. I truly feel that they deserve not to be forgotten,” he said.

“ You wouldn’t believe how lonely some of these people are.”

Mr. Best enrolled in the PSW certificat­e course at the Pembroke campus of Algonquin College in January 2005. He was one of two men in a class of 33. Now 49, Mr. Best was also second- oldest in the class. He had retired from the military about five years earlier after serving 22 years in the army’s dental corps.

He has been working as a PSWfor more than a year. “ Overall it has been a wonderful experience. I didn’t do this for money. I did it for my own personal reward, and the fact that I know I’m helping somebody else.”

“ The majority just want you to touch their hand and say ‘ How are you today.’ Or give them a hug at night and say, ‘ Have a good sleep.’ The smile on their faces just from that little gesture, you can just tell it has put them at ease or calmed them. I would say touch is a very important factor.”

A study done in the early 1990s predicted that about half of the population — 46 per cent — will spend time in a nursing home. Muriel Gillick, a Harvard professor and author of The Denial of Aging, says she feels that society needs to show caregivers more respect.

“ If we hope to have people available to take care of us as we age, we’re going to have to redefine caregiving jobs to make them attractive,” Ms. Gillick says. “ That will mean boosting pay, increasing the prestige associated with such jobs, and creating avenues for advancemen­t.”

Like Dr. Gillick, Ms. Clarke feels there should be more pay and recognitio­n associ-

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