CBC News recently reported on two cases of elderly couples who were forced to live apart in different care facilities in British Columbia.

William and Anita Gottschalk were forced to live apart after 62 years of marriage because the family could not locate a single facility that would accommodate their different levels of need.  William, 83, suffers from dementia and lymphoma and requires greater care than his wife Anita.  According to CBC News, William was recently transferred to a facility, blocks from Anita, to allow him to receive the care that he requires while he waits for an opening in Anita’s facility.  To date, they have been separated for eight months.

Alfred, 95, and Emma, 87, Sagert also found themselves in a similar position when Emma was no longer able to return to the facility that she shared with Alfred after suffering several small strokes.  The Sagert family did the best that they could to transport Alfred to Emma’s new facility “because they just needed to be together”.  Happily, Alfred and Emma were also reunited sometime this spring, although the family believes that Emma’s health diminished as a result of her loneliness during their separation.

BC (Fraser Health) officials advised that reunification of couples like the Gottschalks and Sagerts are a priority and that 92 couples have been reunited in the course of the past year and a half.  Interestingly enough the BC Community Care and Assisted Living Act, contains a Patient’s Bill of Rights which specifies a person’s right “to be treated in a manner, and to live in an environment, that promotes his or her health, safety and dignity”.

Hopefully it will be only a matter of time before the Gottschalks are reunited.

Thanks for reading.

Doreen So

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