It’s been more than two years since I took on the full-time care of my in-laws. We had been supporting them since their move to a nice independent living facility, but when we could see that they were at risk of being separated by health crises we arranged to have them move in with us.

Once we were all settled in together I became concerned that my mother-in-law was growing weak really fast. Her GP diagnosed a UTI, the third that year, and given how she was refusing baths preferring to wash herself with a cloth, she put in an order for her to get three baths a week. I had also noticed she was only eating about 500 calories a day and so the doctor also told her she needed to consume 1,500 calories a day based on how much weight she had lost between visits. And finally, the GP put in an order for her to attend a day program and get PSW support for sociability because of how depressed she was, stuck in their room day in and day out, with the TV always on. Thus started our adventures with government-provided care support through Community Care Access (CCAC), and now called the LHIN.

The LHIN Care Coordinator gave us 11 hours a week of PSW support for three baths and two respite periods during which exercise, crafts and laughter were the norm. At the same time, my father-in-law got much needed breaks as well. I rounded out her schedule by enrolling her in an Adult Day Program two days a week so that her only empty, “quiet” day was Saturday. She was often resistant to going but was always happy when I picked her up, having enjoyed her time out and about. She has been markedly much happier ever since she adjusted to the new schedule.

The dietician told us how to boost her diet with fat and sugar as well as nutrition. But old ingrained programs are hard to break and to this day she says she is still trying to lose weight! Though I am trying hard, slipping as many calories into her as I am able, I am slowly losing this battle. But she is much stronger and healthier than she was before the GP’s intervention. With the wise support of Claire Marson, we’ve come up with delicious, calorie dense and nutrition rich smoothies which she drinks almost every day. Imagine getting 1,000 or more calories into a glass of yummy smoothie (just don’t say milkshake or she will refuse to drink it!).

She’s still walking because of the walker that stabilizes her and the PSWs who take her for walks. Her hubbie and the rest of us chip in, but we certainly are blessed by the level of LHIN support we have had to date. God willing she’ll keep on trucking, despite her continuing gradual physical and cognitive decline. As their primary caregiver, I became the manager of care, giving my father-in-law the support he needs to be effective with the love of his life, and coordinating all the LHIN and medical professionals that are the team that is giving them the best quality of life possible.

There’s no life like it!