It’s been a minute since my Dad passed away and I think that I am still in a state of denial.
Intellectually I know that he is gone, but psychologically I still cling to the hope that I will hear his voice again. Our biggest fear beginning back in March of 2020 was that one of our parents or family members would need to be hospitalized during the pandemic and a) due to restrictions, we would not be able to be there with them as advocates and to provide comfort and b) they would contract COVID-19 while they were hospitalized.
Both of those scenarios occurred. Dad spent many days in the hospital without one of us by his side and, ultimately, he did contract COVID-19 and pass away from complications. When I tell people that Dad passed away from COVID, the first thing they ask is, “How old was he?” or “Was he sick before?” as if his age or pre-existing condition makes it any less painful or meaningful.
Quit doing that! Quit marginalizing death based on age. It does not make a lick of difference to the family whether Mom or Dad was ‘older’ when they passed away. No child is ready to lose a parent. The reality is that our parents are aging, WE are aging, and WE need to work toward a system that can accommodate the elderly or infirm so that they have dignity and respect in the twilight of their lives.
Dad originally went into hospital because we were concerned that his ebbing strength would contribute to a fall, which in turn would turn result in a hospitalization. It was a Catch-22: damned if we did and damned if we didn’t. Dad received good care, but at the same time, hospitals are not a long-term solution for our elderly. I was listening to a gentleman on CBC radio last week speak to the fact that upwards of 65% of his small community on Vancouver Island were made up of folks categorized as seniors.
He was addressing the lack of mental health care for senior citizens, but he might as well have been including other resources which are lacking in the Province of BC. I realize that resources for Health and Education are stretched thin, BUT if we reflect on the industries/organizations who have been carrying the weight of the pandemic, we must admit that Health and Education top that list.
We must do more to assist our aging population. Our smaller communities must have access to resources to support the long-term care of our parents.