Couple married 70 years forced to live apart as husband rejected for nursing home care
Edwin Crossland is frail and has health problems but was deemed too robust to join his wife at nursing home
An Annapolis Valley couple, married for nearly 70 years, is being forced to live out their remaining years apart due to what their family says is a deeply flawed medical assessment.
Marjorie Crossland, 90, has dementia and was placed at Orchard Court, a continuing care facility in Kentville, N.S., last fall. Up until September, the couple lived in their own home in nearby Berwick.
The missing piece in the family unit is Marjorie's 91-year-old husband, Edwin Crossland, who, despite his frailty, advanced age and serious health problems, has been deemed too healthy to have a bed in the nursing home.
Instead, he was assessed for a residential facility, something Tammy says is unsuited to her grandfather's needs.
"He can't cook for himself, he has to have a walker, he can't stand unassisted. He's 91 years old and a diabetic. He can't be alone," she said.
Tammy said she understands the demands on the health-care system, particularly continuing care, "but I do think he qualifies to be in one of those beds. I really think he qualifies."
The Nova Scotia Health Authority could not comment on the Crosslands' case for privacy reasons.
"Our goal is to get people the care that they need when they need it," said Susan Stevens, senior director of continuing care with the health authority. "We are very thorough and careful when assessing an individual's situation.
"We don't want to see people separated. Unfortunately, sometimes the circumstances are such that that happens.
More than 900 people are waiting for the highest level of care — nursing home beds — in Nova Scotia, according to Stevens.
Couples who want to live in the same residential facility are given higher priority on the wait-list. The health authority said there are dozens of couples who are waiting to live in the same facility.
In September, Edwin was hospitalized for diabetes complications and in November, he was sent to a residential care facility. Early in December, he fell and lay on the floor all night until he was found by a worker. Edwin ended up back in hospital. His family doctor recommended nursing home care, but the health authority refused.
Meanwhile, her grandmother is suffering, Tammy said.
"She knows that she's missing him and asks about him all the time. [She] doesn't like to go to bed by herself … and she doesn't like to be alone."
Some days, Marjorie refuses to eat and won't come out of her room, Tammy said.
"He brought her flowers for Valentine's Day. She was really happy and she had a good day with him."
Edwin cried when he spoke about his wife to CBC News.
"She likes me to be with her. And I like being with her. But for some reason, we can't. I don't know why. We would like to be together. But I don't know why we can't be."
Both husband and wife are now on medication to treat depression, Tammy said.
"I just think it's cruel to keep them apart and say he's not eligible for nursing home," she said. "I think they're the typical married couple.… He spoiled her rotten. He adores her."