In November of 1997, an elderly man succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in a Mississauga nursing home—an everyday event in
our aging society.
The journey of that man to this nursing home was the product of the combined efforts of doctors, specialists, social workers, and community care agencies, all co-ordinated for a family that reluctantly decided that this was the best option.
The impact of this decision on that family was profound—an ailing and devoted wife now feeling guilty, lonely and depressed —an adult daughter trying to hold down a responsible job in a volatile industry and still make time for both parents. Colleagues were initially sympathetic, but as the ‘crisis’ stretched on for 6 months, it’s clear that there is no place in the working world for this dilemma. When her father-in-law dies 4 weeks later, all vacation time, as well as goodwill, has been used up—and 5 days of bereavement leave isn’t enough for everything that needs to be done for two grieving widows.
What went wrong for this family? Was it the nursing home? No, it was an excellent facility. The healthcare system? No, the social worker was very helpful. It was the lack of knowledge, not knowing the various options, and not being able to act from a position of strength. For this former decisive business executive, not being involved in making decisions about his own destiny left him feeling powerless and cast aside.
Eldercare Canada was founded by that adult daughter, Pat Irwin, to honour the vow made on her dad’s grave that no other family would have to go through this process alone. The company, founded in 1999, blends her 22 years of experience in consulting, trust operations, financial services and personal life events into an eldercare consulting and implementation service, targeted at adult children and their parents.
The next few years were filled with joy and sorrow – joy at
the privilege of helping over 100 families manage the
transitions of aging – and sorrow at the terrible toll taken
on Pat’s mother, Kaye, by repeated strokes, osteoarthritis,
fibromyalgia and a broken hip. However that sorrow was
leavened by the knowledge that everything possible was
done – a move to a retirement home that offered
increasing levels of care, so that Kaye was surrounded by
love and able to die at home – in the retirement home – with her family and loving staff at her side. What a wonderful difference having the right knowledge can make.
“ElderCareCanada is not my job – it’s the reason I was put on Earth”.
– Pat Irwin