After becoming a caregiver to his younger brother at age 10, and then his mother who was diagnosed with lung cancer, Terrence Ho has learned a lot about what it takes to survive caregiving.
How long have you been a caregiver?
What responsibilities did you take on for your mother and brother?
Why did you feel like you needed to advocate for your mother?
Were you also involved in her end-of-life care?
When she received her prognosis, I helped her plan for her end-of-life wishes. Two or three years prior to mom’s diagnosis, I completed an end-of-life doula training. At the time, our family was going through a lot – my brother was experiencing some health challenges and we had started a medical assistance in dying (MAID) process.
That must have been hard, caring for both your brother and your mother.
It was difficult. Soon after our mom’s cancer diagnosis, we leaned on the Ontario Health Team , which is a local network of health-care professionals that provides coordinated care to patients and their families. They provided mental health support for mom, and they also offered personal support workers to help assist with her walking. As for me, I received grief counselling and psychotherapy support.
Did mental health support made you a better caregiver?
How do you get through the challenging days?
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting out on their caregiving journey?
You also work with a company that creates ‘smart’ wheelchairs.
The work that I’ve been doing over the past five or six years has been heavily influenced by my brother’s experience. When I met Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, the founder of Braze Mobility at a conference, my brother and I were running a not-for-profit organization, helping people with disabilities find work, and she was just starting out and setting up the company. We had value alignment and became quick friends. Two years ago, as the company started to expand, I joined their executive team. Braze Mobility offers technology that empowers people with a disability to move around safely and independently. It transforms any wheelchair into a “smart wheelchair” with the addition of blind spot sensors that help enhance the spatial awareness of someone in a wheelchair. My brother has been in a wheelchair for most of his life and he uses this technology.
What’s the toughest part of caregiving for you?
Is our government doing enough to support family caregivers?
The work of a caregiver is never easy and there should be better policies and broader programs in place to help support them. The Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence is already advocating for policy reforms for caregivers, and I think that collaborating with such organizations can help all levels of government develop programs that are innovative, inclusive, and much more valuable to family caregivers across the country.
Originally published in Healthing. View the original article here.