Caring for the Caregiver: They know the joys and the sorrows
I have been a caregiver for the last 16 years to my wife, who is disabled, and know that this job has its own joys and triumphs, defeats and sorrows. A caregiver is a person behind the wheelchair of his or her loved one, or at their bedside, who is not paid for the services. I have also been an accredited, investigative journalist for about 30 years.
It has been a great journey, from India to Kenya, Africa and Canada where I have lived since 1988. By now I have learned to live by comic and medical energies, working vigorously and by living with what I have, not what I want. The goal is to stay calm and fulfilled. I travel on media assignments and lecture tours, and am just back from a trip to San Francisco where I presented my perspective and experience on why more caregivers are needed today, and how I believe that our future goal as a society should be to focus on accommodating the needs of this growing legion of workers.
Caregivers help heal the sick, similar to doctors, who are paid hugely to treat the health problems of their patients. But caregivers remain unpaid for their duties.
There are over five-million caregivers and disabled people in Canada, and over 70-million in the USA, with many young men and women becoming disabled from the wars outside North America and coming home disabled. We have an aging population, with some in the boomer generation now over 65 years, and so there is a greater need for understanding, support and services then ever before.
Caregivers are people too, with dreams and aspirations like others, but out of necessity they are largely imprisoned within their caregiving situations. When tragedy strikes a family by the way of a stroke, accident or other medical condition, one is done! In crises like these, further development, intense self-examination and open introspection to cope with the situation are required.
Ontario has a very good, caring and compassionate program called the Ontario Disability Support Program to assist the disabled people in Ontario. It was started by the Mike Harris government in 1997, and by 2012, it is continuing as a great source of support for disabled people including my wife, a former teacher and singer.
But more is needed. I hereby call on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to help launch the proposed Ontario Caregivers Support Program, and bring it into law as soon as possible.
It is time to take the next step in building Canada’s health care system. Just as universal health care was initiated by a priest turned politician, Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), from Saskatchewan, who provided a vision that was supported by other great Canadians like William Osler (1849-1919) from Bond, Ont., whose hospitals are among the landmarks for health and care services, it is time for a new father or mother of caregiving to take the reins and step forward.
So, let’s get together and let the ideas percolate. Caregiving is a new topic for many people, and I would like to invite ideas from everybody, to help make lives easier for our loved ones and for their caregivers. It’s the path of hope to the world as it might be.
Contact the writer at email@example.com in Brampton, or share caregiving tips and send comments to FYI: firstname.lastname@example.org, or post them on the FYI Facebook page.
Irvinder Babra is the founding editor of Sikh Press