Senior caring for son says health-care system falls short
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 4:24PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 4:31PM AST
An aging senior is asking for help in caring for her adult son who is bound to a wheelchair and unable to communicate.
Lorraine Atherton is the primary caregiver for her son Hilary, once a vibrant 39-year-old who spoke six languages and loved to travel.
Three years ago he suffered a permanent brain injury after falling from a wall. Now his 73-year-old mother spends her days caring for him.
“He is heavier than I am and I find it difficult to move him,” says the Halifax resident.
“I am not young. I’ve had a brain tumour out. I have very little feeling in my fingers and the mobility down my right side is not good. I lose my balance and I get tired.”
Atherton gets some help from nurses, but their care is limited to just a few hours, a few times a week.
Last year, frustrated by institutional care, Hilary’s family brought him home.
Atherton’s husband died this fall after complications from a ruptured hernia. She believes his death may have been caused in part by having to lift their son.
Atherton says the care she was promised by the health region has been cut back. Capital Health confirms there is a waitlist for home support services.
“I am very fearful without more help I will not be able to manage.”
Some of Atherton’s duties as caregiver include bathing, administering medication, feeding and moving her son from a wheelchair to his bed.
Atherton has not training, and her son will never be able to do these things for himself again.
“I would like to keep Hilary, yes,” she says. “I am glad to do what I can for Hilary, but I need help.”
She says the nurses do the best they can, but there are many limitations, so the gap in care often falls on the shoulders of family members.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl