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BC elderly couple forced to separate, questions Canada’s seniors’ care
Image courtesy: Facebook

BC elderly couple forced to separate, questions Canada’s seniors’ care

India Blooms News Service | | 27 Aug 2016, 09:47 am
Toronto, Aug 27 (IBNS): A 83-year-old Wolfram Gottschalk and his 81- year- old wife Anita, who have been married for the past 62 years, have been forced to stay apart from each other for the past eight months in different healthcare facilities, owing to their health issues.

The couple now gets to meet each other only a few times each week.

The Surrey based couple broke hearts around the world on Friday as their story went viral through their granddaughter Ashley Bartyik’s Facebook page. 

Bartyik uploaded a picture of her grandparents bidding adieu to each other as they were getting separated and begged for help in British Columbia’s (BC) senior care.

Bartyik describes that it was love at first sight that brought Anita and Wolf together when they were teenagers.

They never stayed off from each other for more than a week during their decades of marriage.

However, last January they had to separate as Wolf who suffered from dementia also developed cognitive heart failure.

He has now been diagnosed with lymphoma.

The family is still waiting to find out which stage of cancer he is in.

But Bartyik thinks time is passing off their hands.

Bartyik describes despite dementia wolf still remembers and recognizes Anita as he fondly calls her “my little mouse” in German, a nick name that he is been using for her since decades.

Presently it is Bartyik or her mother Diana who drives Anita to meet Wolf every other day from the Morgan Heights Residence to the Yale road center in North Surrey.

Wolf presently is on a waiting list to get into The Residence, where both of them can have the care that they need.

Fraser Health, the regional authority that oversees service and delivery of care, however points that they are trying their best to reunite the couple.

However, due to the lack of available beds in The Residence the couple had to be separated.

Tasleem Juma, spokesperson of Fraser health says, “It’s not unusual for senior couples to need different levels of care at different times. We are committed to reuniting families who are in our care. The challenge in this case is that the husband’s care needs are considerably higher than his wife’s.”

Juma points out that Wolf needs residential care while Anita needs assisted living.

However, BC seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie describes 25 percent assisted living units in the province are on waiting lists, while less than 10 percent of residential care units have people waiting.

Last spring, the BC legislature made changes in its Community Care Assisted Living Act, increasing flexibility for residents to remain in assisted living and delay in moving into complex care. The act is still pending to be in the legislature.

Mackenzie further explains, Gottschalks situation is not very common as more than hundred people face the same problem, despite being separated from their partners at a ripe age.

It is because of rigid rules and the long hasty process that people face such difficult situations at old age, points out Mackenzie.

She further explains, creative solutions could be taken up like moving Wolf into assisted living with Anita or squeezing another bed into his transitional facility for her.

Mackenzie emphasizes, “At the end of the day, no matter what we do, Mr. and Mrs. Gottschalk are going to die, as are we all. So, what’s really important is how they lived. That’s the only thing we have control over.”

(Reporting by Debarati Mukherjee)


Image courtesy:  Facebook

Image caption: Wolf and Anita as they bid farewell to each other , picture uploaded by their granddaughter which went viral on Facebook.


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