As our population ages, end of life issues and senior care are becoming social priorities. There are economic, political and social factors when dealing with an aging population but at its core the most important factor is the human touch. This week's Qeepr Interview series is all about the human-to-human interaction that goes into elderly care and end-of-life issues. Beth Cytryn is the founder and owner of BethCare Senior Services Inc in Montreal, Canada. After coping with a loss in her own family, Beth realized how important her work could be to those in need and her journey with BethCare began.
In our interview, Beth speaks openly and candidly about elderly neglect, sickness and the personal touch that goes into her line of work. Beth, like Qeepr, wants to broach a subject many of us find taboo and off limits. We hope you enjoy this interview and come away with a new appreciation for the hard working individuals who make up the senior care profession.
When my mom passed away, I knew where I belonged. BethCare was her gift to me.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
My name is Beth Cytryn and I am the founder and CEO at BethCare Senior Services. I am the youngest of seven children so you can imagine how busy our home was. But we were all taught to work hard and to take care of each other. I like to think that this is where I learnt the beauty as well as the struggles of family dynamics.
Tell us about BethCare and the services you offer.
BethCare is a boutique sized company offering caregiving services to seniors and support services to their families. We are committed to the aging community and focus on bringing humanity and respect to every senior’s care. As well, we relieve families of their stress by offering information and moral support.
What inspired you to establish BethCare?
My mother. She suffered from a stroke and dementia and I became her primary caregiver. While I cared for her, I was constantly surrounded by seniors and I realized it was a very comfortable and natural place for me. So, when my mom passed away, I knew where I belonged. BethCare was her gift to me.
Saying goodbye to her was heartbreaking, but I felt so lucky to see her and her family through that journey.
What have you found to be the greatest challenges when working with the elderly?
There is no specific challenge I can pin point. The challenges lie with the individual just like when working with children or your peers. Each senior has a unique story and I work to make the final chapters of their story as enriching as possible, despite their personal challenges.
In your experience, how do you view our society’s relationship with, and treatment of the elderly?
In my experience, most people show disrespect to the elderly. It’s unfortunate, because the elderly are so wise and have so much to offer. Our society preaches that experience makes us wiser, but there appears to be a certain point when people stop considering that to be valid.
At Qeepr, we recognize the importance of speaking about end of life care and wishes. Is this kind of planning a part of the services you provide?
Discussing end of life care is not a service that we offer at BethCare, but it is a topic that arises and that is discussed. Some seniors will start the conversation on their own. I believe that this should be an open conversation to listen and to ask questions if the senior is comfortable.
If not, how do you work with families of a client who has recently passed away?
The children are usually very open to talk about end of life care for their parents. Although I have realized that children are not comfortable discussing this topic with their parents.
Tell us about an experience you have had since establishing BethCare that has affirmed your mission to provide personalize care for the elderly.
I cared for one senior in particular and her family for four years. We navigated our way through her living at home autonomously, to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and through a move to a full care facility. Saying goodbye to her was heartbreaking, but I felt so lucky to see her and her family through that journey.
At her funeral, her daughters singled me out in their speech to express their gratitude. Later, guests at the funeral approached me saying how the end of her life would not have been as enriched and full if it hadn’t been for me. Moments like these reaffirm my love and passion for providing a high quality of personalized care. There is no doubt in my mind that I do and always will give the elderly respect. I will always treat them with humanity. This is my personal commitment and the BethCare commitment.