CAROL’S STORY: Caring around the clock

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Carol Foote just can’t seem to make plans and keep them. Friends have stopped asking the woman from Miramichi, New Brunswick, to go for a coffee, get together for lunch or take in a movie. Carol’s not irresponsible. It’s just that, for more than a decade, most of her energy has been focused on her ailing, 73-year-old mother, Alice Richardson, who requires full-time care.

Against the odds

When Alice suffered her third stroke in 1993 at age 62, doctors advised the family that she would probably live for just a few days. Against the odds, Alice survived, but she faced the prospect of being placed in a nursing home. Carol and her husband, Leonard, who were six months into their new lives after relocating to Lacombe, Alberta, made the decision that they would provide the care Alice needed. The couple had previously lived in Fredericton, but they willingly moved to Alice’s home in Miramichi.

Constant caregiving

The more than 11 years since then have not been easy. Alice is completely paralyzed on her left side and is unable to speak, although she often “acts out” in anger or frustration. She can feed herself but is completely reliant upon Carol for everything else. Alice’s short attention span means the family’s TV needs to be tuned to action-packed programs and played at a louder than average level to hold her attention. While her mother is TV watching, Carol uses the opportunity to take care of her normal household chores.

“Caregiving is constant,” says Carol. She notes that a caregiver can end up losing friends, because you can never make solid plans when you’re always on call. “I love my mother dearly,” stresses Carol. “I’m not complaining. In fact, I feel blessed to be able to look after her.”

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