Arlene Overman

TWO DAUGHTER'S PERSPECTIVES ON CARE FOR THEIR PARENTS 

When my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago, I couldn't imagine that things would unfold for his gentle care and a peaceful death of dignity.  I live in Victoria BC where I have three school aged children and I freelance as a musician to earn my living. Even though I wanted to be a part of solutions and support my siblings and family who all live in Saskatchewan, nearer to my father, I simply could not be there.  I am grateful for the numerous options that Home Instead provided for our whole family.   

As Dad's cancer progressed and his heath declined, we were able, through Home Instead to set up quality care not just for my father in his illness but also for my mother as she grew weary holding full responsibility for his care.  Dad's illness made him weak and irritable.  Thankfully he had few actual medical needs.  But his and my mother's emotional needs were many and we just couldn't be with them enough to help design a life of safety, purpose and hope.  The Home Instead caregivers were able to assist my parents through many challenges; some big and some small.  There were dinner parties they helped prepare and serve that gave my parents a sense of normalcy when it felt like life was turning upside down.  There was chauffeuring to appointments like chemo sessions and visits with friends.  There were long chats over cups of tea, listening to precious life stories told for a final time as well as discussions over details about Dad's care.  Eventually there was personal care for Dad and 24 hour care to give Mom extra peace of mind as Dad moved toward death, his mobility became hazardous and oxygen was in use.  

Had it not been for the work and system of Home Instead, Dad would have nearly fallen through the cracks of their medical system.  More stress would have been on us to uproot our families and careers to attend to our parents, and those logistics would have become very complicated.  The Home Instead staff were a huge source of information about end of life considerations and issues all of which were new to our family.  We would have been exhausted trying to learn and look after all that information on our own.   

Losing a loved one is never easy.  There's no way around the grief and sorrow of illness and death.  However, easing the stress of the logistics does make the process easier.  Saying goodbye to my father has been a rich experience for me and our family.  As we celebrated his life, we also had peace of mind that we gave him what my mother called "the care he really deserved" and eased the load for her in the gut wrenching experience of losing her life partner of 57 years.  I know Dad was happy about how he was looked after and also happy that he wasn't a burden to Mom nor anyone in the family and that in this process there was care for Mom too.   

Death is an eventual reality for us all.  Wouldn't it be great if none of us had to dread the institutionalization, the isolation, the neglect, and the marginalization of those final moments of life?  I wish for more people to have help from Home Instead and experience aging with dignity.  

Thank you Home Instead! Arlene Overman 

May 2017

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