First Nations elder care in the hands of family members
Sixty of 7,821 people in long-term care beds in Nova Scotia are of aboriginal descent
First Nations communities in Nova Scotia are working hard to keep their aging family members out of nursing homes and connected to their culture.
According to the Department of Health and Wellness, as of Aug. 22 there were 7,821 people in long term care in Nova Scotia, including people in assisted living residential care facilities and nursing homes — 60 of those are of aboriginal descent.
Eight members of Rosanne Sylvester’s family look after her 85-year-old mother.
She said her family has developed a comprehensive schedule so either a family member or home care workers are with her mother 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Sylvester said many other Mi’kmaq families have adopted a similar regimen to take care of elderly members of the family.
"We don't want to see them in a nursing home because it takes them out of their comfort zone, [away from] their children, their culture, even the food they eat," she said.
Sylvester's mother is Caroline Marshall, widow of Grand Chief Donald Marshall and mother of Donald Marshall Jr.
Marshall spends most of her day in a wheelchair now and can't get out of bed, or perform many everyday tasks on her own.
"It's a lot of work but that's what we had to do because when she ended up in the hospital we had to set this up for her, otherwise they would probably have put her in a home. But we didn't want that," said Sylvester.
She said it can be stressful trying to find someone to always be there for her mother.
"Take her to the bathroom and stuff because she has to have two people taking her there, just to get her in and out of the wheelchair and we watch a lot of TV with her," said Sylvester.
"The only stress that I find now is if we don't get anybody to come in and then whoever is there has to look after her for an extra three or four hours."