Stories of family, human challenges 

Graham Hookey writes on education, parenting and eldercare for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

Time is money – a reminder that sometimes it’s better to pay someone to do the work than to take the amount of time necessary to either do the work yourself or research how to get it done.

In the area of elder care, particularly for adult children who are trying to support their parents, there are a lot of questions that require time and attention.

There are many people who have gone through this before, government agencies that are paid to support the community in dealing with such issues, and private consultants whose profession it is to help families develop a customized plan for elder care.

It is a rather unusual human quality to think that we are the only ones suffering through the kinds of challenges we might be facing, but it is generally quite the opposite that is the case.

The stages of life we move through are common for all of us and the experiences we have are shared by many others.

We may need to individualize ‘the wheel’ to our circumstances, but we don’t need to invent it.

When I first began my venture into elder care, with the dramatic downturn in my father’s health, my first tendency was to head to the internet and do some research.

I’m not going to say it wasn’t worthwhile, even therapeutic in some ways, to sit in the quiet of my home and learn more about his condition, the treatment options and the palliative care issues.

But there were hundreds of thousands of articles and pages, often with conflicting suggestions.

I stewed a lot about what might be best for him.

I decided to venture to more trusted sources, some family friends who had their own experiences in dealing with similar circumstances.

I listened to their stories, both triumphs and disappointments, and noted what pitfalls I’d need to avoid.

These were the stories of family and human challenges.

I then utilized what resources I could from government agencies.  I arranged to meet with my father’s doctor; I set up an appointment to meet with a public health nurse; I talked to a public health counselor.  These individuals were extremely helpful in guiding me through the public medical system and the options that were available but they were not easy to access because they were spread thinly over many demands.  There were some significant waiting times getting to see people, and in one case a frustrating cancellation that set the whole process back to the beginning.

With patience not being my greatest virtue, I was on the verge of seeking private consultation help at one point.

I had asked the public servants for references for such services and put together a list of organizations and individuals who had a long record of service in the field and were respected by the medical community.

Like any private business, there are charlatans in the elder care field and I wanted to be sure I didn’t simply get an address from the phone book or the internet and not have some reference to the quality of advice I might receive.

As it turned out, my father passed away before any of the more extreme care options had to be pursued, and so the advice I had from friends and government agencies served the needs we had during his final months with us.

Still, I feel that I could have saved myself a lot of angst and time had I pursued some private consultation a little earlier in the process.

Like anything, there are experts in this field, and while their services may seem expensive at the outset, the time saved and clarity of planning support, may well be worth the money.

Graham Hookey writes on education, parenting and eldercare. Email him at