Call it ‘The Sandwich Generation’

By P.A. Sévigny on November 13, 2008

Last Sunday, a new resource group called The Professionals Network for Caregivers, (Réseau des Professionels pour les Proches Aidants) held their annual resource fair at the Centre Mont-Royal in the downtown core.

In association with its new partner, the Uniprix pharmacies group, the PNC joined forces with their corporate partner to respond and promote resources required by growing numbers of caregivers throughout the city. Marjorie Silverman, who works at the CSSS (Cavendish) Caregiver Support Centre in Côte Saint Luke, said the resource fair was an important initiative because it managed to rally all the resources required by both public and private caregivers under one roof. Margerite Blais, the provincial minister in charge of senior citizens, stopped by and gave a brief and sincere speech as to how important the caregiver’s mission was and how the government appreciated all the work being done by both private and professional caregivers.

“She’s right,” said one of the fair’s organizers. “We save the province a lot of money because a lot of this work is being done out of love because there’s no money to pay for this kind of thing.”

She described aging baby-boomers as ‘the sandwich generation’.

“They’re a generation caught between caring for their aging parents while many of them still have kids at home,” she said.

While an aging population will continue to require more and more help, the resource fair maintained its focus upon the needs and requirements of those who manage and offer that help. Numerous support groups were there as were assorted organizations who offered coherent referrals and information for caregivers dealing with a specific disease. The Baluchon group offers trained home care for those who need a break from the endless care required by a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. The ECCOM group (English Coalition of Caregivers of Montreal) offers referrals, support and information for all of the city’s Anglophone caregivers. Robert Morin, spokesman for the Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Society, said his organization had information, referrals and support networks for everybody who needs it.

“Information is power,” he said. “Once you know what you’re dealing with, that’s half the battle.”

Hélène Normandin, speaking for the Uniprix group, said senior citizens should recognize their pharmacy as their first line of defense against the perils of old age.

“People need professional help and advice,” she said. “There are lots of tools and medication out there to help them live a full life. All they have to do is ask for it.”

While social service networks were doing their best to offer all the services to the city’s caregivers, Silverman said the province the provincial CLSCs were gearing up for the demographic challenges posed by the aging baby-boomer generation.

“Every one of the CLSCs responds to the immediate needs of their district,” she said. “They’re the ones people will turn to when they have to learn how to navigate through the system. Each and every one of them have their own strength and qualities and that’s always a good place to start when people need help but don’t know who they can turn to.”

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