Raul Freitas

A Second Home

second home - milenio stadium


 In the old days, elderly members of the family could always count on being looked after by one or more loved ones, a long-standing tradition in just about every culture in the world. Modern times brought much higher living costs, forcing everyone in the family who is able, to get a job. The younger ones in the family also have to make decisions in that regard, either work, or get an education, which then inevitably leads to placement in the workforce.

The void in the home leaves little or no choice for the elderly and their families. It’s a tough choice for all. Placing a parent, or parents in a long-term care facility is probably one of the most difficult choices that a family must make, but it must be made. Many older people can still look after themselves, but even they may eventually have to face facts, because there always comes a time when that is no longer viable and, most of the time, their children cannot take on the role of care provider, because of either a financial situation, or even due to the fact that sometimes one person providing care is simply not enough. Many of us already know this from personal experience.

The Portuguese have been emigrating to Canada for nearly seven decades, and although that is a long time, there are many older folks who spent their lives working in Canada, but living their lives in a traditionally Portuguese manner. Their diets are Mediterranean and their mother tongue continues to be Portuguese. This places a great deal of stress on them, when faced with living in a long-term care facility where caregivers, through no fault of their own, may not speak their language. We all know that the elderly require consistent attention not only to monitor their health, but also for conversation and activities, having caregivers who can understand what they’re saying and respond in their language is an enormous relief. Meals can also be difficult. When one reaches their golden age, after lifetime eating food cooked a certain way, with culture-specific ingredients, it can be disappointing being obligated to eat something that has nothing to do with your culture.

That’s why when I was informed about the Magellan Centre, in Toronto, I found the idea a no brainer.
Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to convince an elderly relative that going to such a facility is beneficial for them. They want to be with their family for as long as possible. It’s also hard for us, as sons and daughters, to even approach the subject for fear of sound selfish, or heartless. At least, if you can tell your mom or dad, or both, that the place they would be going to communicates in their language, including medical staff, then that would be a major stumbling block out of the way. Add to that the fact that they would be served Portuguese food, well, it would be a big step to overcoming the most common arguments. I have come across this several times in the past: “nobody will understand what I say!”, “What am I going to eat there?”. It’s always good to have some truly positive facts, to offer, when dealing with this sensitive situation.

There’s another problem, though, money, as always. In order to bring a facility like this to life, a great deal of it is needed and that’s also a situation nobody wants to be in. Even with federal grants, big money donations and a 100-year, $1 per year lease, our help is still needed to reach the over 80 million dollar estimated price tag for the Magellan Centre. If the Portuguese community needs to come together, to come alive and support what will become the first Portuguese-language oriented facility of its kind in Canada. The call goes out to the many awesome clubs in the community, to all their devoted members, to rally together and raise funds- to raise Magellan. In the end, we will all take pride, in unison, because our elderly deserve being treated with respect, and what better reward for the sacrifice they made when leaving everything behind in Portugal in order to create a better life for themselves and their families, than a place in their community where they can feel at ease in knowing that they’re with their own. Look into it at magellancommunityfoundation.com and see for yourself.
There’s no place like home, but if that’s not possible, at least there will be Magellan.
Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS

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