RENÉE HENRIQUES is a Health Advisor to the Globe and Mail
I arrived to see Mrs. Davis this morning with a giant cup of coffee in my hand, praying that the caffeine would cut through my morning fog. Mrs. Davis welcomed me with a big smile and high spirits. "Geraldine!" she said, "It's great to see you. How was mass this morning?"
Have you ever said the wrong thing? Of course you have. You're human. And when it comes to speaking to caregivers, conversations can be especially fraught. Statistics Canada tells us more than eight million Canadians provide care to a chronically ill or disabled loved one.
When he was 60, my dad, Bernie, made me promise that I would never put him in a home. He made me promise at least once a year after that. But later in life, his health deteriorated to the point where I could no longer keep my promise.
Marilyn charged into the retirement home lobby, her purse flying behind her. She had just come from dropping her son off at high school late and she was calling someone to postpone a work meeting. Her father, David, had wandered away from his retirement home the previous day.