This essay shows a story about love, but not just romance, it’s a love where the strength comes from an unwavering commitment. This story is about the emotions Lex experiences as he quietly deals with his wife Mary’s dementia one day at a time. On some days, the sense of humour that brought the two of them together is apparent. On other days, he just doesn’t know what to say anymore. It’s a story that looks at a man who is questioning whether his wife can still understand that he loves her and is doing everything he can.
Canada's population is aging. Five million Canadians are currently over the age of 65. As the “baby boomers” - Canada’s largest age demographic - reaches its senior years, aging in Canada will largely accelerate. The proportion of seniors could reach as high as 23 per cent of our total population by 2031. With age, health problems like dementia or stroke, are likely to increase as well.
There will be many more stories like Lex and Mary's, where a husband, a wife, a son or daughter, even grandchildren will make the decision to take in their aging loved one and care for them full-time. Through this work, I hope to explore the strength and sacrifice required to give someone care and warmth in their final days.
I started this story because I wanted to understand my own. After my grandmother had a stroke, she was unable to care for herself and moved in with my family. I wanted to keep growing in my appreciation of what my parents went through from having her live with us by looking at why others become caregivers as well.
This work is about an individual, intimate conflict that impacts countless Canadians everyday. It is rarely seen as a conflict because it takes place in private, behind closed doors. The caregivers assume it is their duty to sacrifice a part of themselves for their loved ones, without questioning why. These circumstances force us to think of who we are as human beings and how far we are willing to go to care for one another. How much are you willing to change your own life in order to care for someone you love?