Survey shows daughters more likely to take care of parents

A B.C. woman shares struggle of taking care of aging mother

Given the choice between a successful career or being a loyal caregiver to her mother, Marinella Berretti was lucky to find a way to do both.

While working as an administrative assistant at Falcon Engineering, Berretti’s mother, Maruska, 84 has been in and out of the hospital since December, with broken bones, ischaemic colitis and is now back in hospital with pneumonia.

“It’s very hard when you are the only caregiver— I am the only sibling here in Kelowna,” said Berretti, who has siblings in Edmonton and Toronto. “She’s my mother I want to do what is best for her.”

The stress to balance her time at work, while ensuring her mother receives proper treatment in an assisted living home feels like a full time job for Berretti.

Related: B.C. senior care improving, but most far below staffing target

The assisted living homes her mother has lived in have treated her well but, with staff being “spread so thin” her mother was seeing a different doctor almost every day, medications and treatment recommendations would vary.

“One (doctor) would say put her on oxygen, and then two days later she would be told to go off it by another,” Berretti said.

To ensure her mother was getting the proper care, Berretti started ensuring she was able to check in the the doctors regularly which crept into her work hours.

“I would try to work with the doctors to meet with them on my lunch hours but it wasn’t working, so I had to talk to my employer. They are so supportive, but it’s really stressful. I feel like even though they are okay with me leaving to talk to the doctors and help her I feel that I am taking too much,” Berretti said.

Turning to the Home Instead Senior Care once she was able to bring her mother home from the hospital has been “a God send” along with the help of her boss.

Related: B.C. VIEWS: Who will care for frail elderly?

“It is so hard to juggle and without the support I am getting it would have been a lot harder, I am quite lucky that I have a good company and employer that cares about me,” Berretti said.

Home Instead sees daughters with young families of their own to take care of, becoming the sole caregiver of their aging parents. After conducting a survey, amongst female caregivers between the ages of 45 and 60 in the U.S and Canada, Home Instead found that 91 per cent of female caregivers have had make professional sacrifices to take on the responsibility of caring for their parents.

“Half of the women surveyed felt they had to choose between being a good employee or a good daughter,” read the findings.

Berretti was lucky however to have an employer that is so understanding. Home Instead takes care of their clients either by hourly or daily rates

Related: Changing philosophies for seniors’ care

“We provide a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel for women like Marinella, because it is a 24/7 job, there is no relief to it and it is very frustrating for them,” Don Henke, franchise owner of Home Instead said. “Daughters end up taking care of their parents more than sons, it has generally been the role. It shouldn’t be that way but it’s a gender role that has been a reality. Lots of men are involved but not to the extent where the daughters are.”

Human life expectancy rising along with medical advances people are living six years longer than they would have before 1981 according to Statistics Canada, most people now live well beyond the age of 75.

The Daughters in the Workplace public education program is available at www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/daughters-in-the-workplace/

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