In the summer of 2020 I responded to a call-out for participants within the family caregiver advocacy group that I am a member of, organized through the Ontario Caregiver Organization and the Change Foundation. What was then an “urgent request for a caregiver to be interviewed by André Picard, Journalist for the Globe and Mail…for a project on on how to improve elder care post-Covid”, turned into a wonderful opportunity to dig deep into a conversation with André Picard about my caregiver journey as a primary caregiver for both of my parents in their home and in their short-lived Long Term Care experience. From that conversation Andre featured my caregiving story and journey with both of my elderly parents in a chapter called “Conscripted by Love” in his important 2021 book, “Neglected No More: The Urgent Need To Improve The Lives Of Canada’s Elders In The Wake Of A Pandemic“.
The interview also connected full circle to the first-class “caregiver training” that I had experienced, post B.A. and from ages 24 to 31, when I made a very unconventional and unexpected choice to go to live and work as a live-in caregiver in a community caring for people with developmental disabilities called L’Arche Daybreak (part of the International Federation of L’Arche communities), where people like my dear friend John Smeltzer (who was a dynamo of love and who was also born with Down Syndrome), shaped my life and helped me forge the path between creative communications and healthcare and healthcare advocacy for societies most vulnerable members, that I have been on ever since.
This is a must read book that asks at it’s outset, how is it that our country’s “greatest generation”, who ushered in the reality of universal public healthcare in Canada, have been so deeply neglected and shamefully wounded in their frail and final years as elders. While the book is full of powerful indictment of this complex reality, it is also a book full of powerful stories of hope, of hopeful models, paths forward and a critical call to action.
NOTE: This was an interview of pure passion, belief, hope and advocacy given to honour the immense love and sacrifices of my parents in raising their eight children, and to offer all that I had learned from my deep and broad caregiving experiences that spanned some 20 years. I received no compensation for this interview and this is in no way a promotional post, it is my personal testimony and advocacy for a subject I am deeply passionate about and have served in various forms for 24 years, but I encourage anyone with a heart and with an aging parent to pick this book up and become more informed and educated on the path you’re likely facing in one form or another. I’m sure there are copies at libraries across Canada – here’s a link to a Canadian book store: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/neglected-no-more-the-urgent/9780735282247-item.html