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Beverley finds balance with Perth seniors’ programs and caregiver supports 

4 MIN READ

STORY HIGHLIGHTS  

  • The stresses that come with taking care of a loved one can take a toll on our wellbeing and mental health. Ninety-six per cent of individuals receiving long-term home care in Canada have an unpaid caregiver. More than one in three of these caregivers reported feeling distressed. 
     
  • Beverley found support at the PEP Seniors Therapeutic Centre (referred to as PEP) after her husband, Bob, had a stroke. Thanks to the programs at PEP, Bob has fun with friends, and Beverley feels more energized to better care for him at home. 
     
  • United Way East Ontario works with partners like PEP to ensure seniors stay connected through social programs, and caregivers get much-needed respite.

"I don't know how to do this": Finding support in challenging times

Beverley’s caregiving journey began about three years ago.  

Her husband, Bob, had a stroke and was hospitalized for 10 weeks. It was at the height of the pandemic, so she couldn’t visit him during that time. It was hard on both of them. When he was released from the hospital, he needed a lot of care.  

“I was really feeling, ‘I don’t know how to do this,’ that was the start of the journey,” Beverley says. “I knew he needed a lot of support.” 

A physiotherapist at their local hospital recommended the PEP Seniors Therapeutic Centre in Perth. She reached out to the executive director, Suzanne, who welcomed them to visit and see how they could benefit from their programming. Soon after, Bob started attending one of PEP’s day programs, where he enjoys time with friends while Beverley gets much-needed time to herself.

"It took me a long time to recognize that, as a caregiver, I have to take care of myself if I’m going to do a good job of taking care of my husband, Bob.”

Beverley knows Bob is safe and having fun at PEP, which gives her the time and energy she needs to run errands, catch up on professional work, connect with friends, or simply take a quiet moment to rest. 

“And at the end of the day, I really feel energized from all of those things,” she says.  

The PEP program provides Bob with more than just a place to go during the day. He spends time with friends over lunch, receives physiotherapy, and participates in an hour each of cognitive stimulation and physical exercise that supports his stroke recovery.  

“When he walks in, the group is very happy to see him. He once missed a session, and as he walked in his peers clapped because he was back,” Beverley chuckled. 

Caregiving is a 24/7 job

Ontario has more seniors than ever before. This means there’s a growing need for informal caregivers—spouses, family, and neighbours. Working around the clock to care for their loved ones, many caregivers get burned out. This has a ripple effect on the whole family 

96% of individuals receiving long-term home care in Canada have an unpaid caregiver. More than 1 in 3 of these caregivers reported feeling distressed.

In addition to helping Bob recuperate from his stroke, Beverley has also been supporting him with other health needs. Bob has been living with Parkinson’s disease for 12 years. Dealing with this progressive disease and the after-effects of the stroke has been challenging.  

Beverely explains, “You always feel like you’re ‘on’ and that’s the part that’s difficult, always knowing that you have to be there and be ready to deal with things.”

For family or friends who take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one, respite programs provide a huge relief—reducing caregiver burnout by giving them an opportunity to recharge and connect with others. 

“It’s a 24/7 job but other things need to be done. So, I can do things and then not worry that they haven’t been done,” Beverley says about the benefits of PEP. 

“Something as simple as buying groceries. You can go to the grocery store and get what you need, and not be worried about, ‘Oh when am I going to do that? How am I going to get that done?’”

Keeping seniors connected and preventing caregiver burnout

United Way East Ontario works with partners like PEP to ensure seniors stay connected through social programs, and caregivers get much-needed respite. We also lead Successful Aging Councils to coordinate supports available to seniors and caregivers in communities across our region, specifically in rural areas where transportation to services is often a significant challenge.  

For 10 years, PEP has been working in the community to provide respite programs that “boost people up, improve their quality of life, and help them to live in their own home for as long as possible,” explains PEP Executive Director Suzanne Rintoul.  

With two locations, one in Perth and one in Smiths Falls, PEP provides local seniors with the services they need, including both therapeutic day programs and support group sessions for caregivers.   

“It's important for people to know that there are resources in the community available and that there are others that are going through similar situations.”

Living in Lanark County, Beverley expresses that it helps a lot that the programs that are offered at the PEP – Seniors Therapeutic Centre are close to home. It can take an hour to travel to Ottawa, and it’s more difficult when the weather is bad. She’s grateful to have these supports close to home, “When you have things locally, you start to build relationships with people who live in the same area.” 

“It’s one of many resources that are important for Bob and me to lead satisfying lives,” Beverley says. “I think it has really helped with what’s needed to go on with daily living.”

This Seniors’ Month, let seniors and caregivers know they aren’t alone. 

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