Meet Ken and Vincie

Ken had no idea that Thursday, March 12th would be his last day at Club 36 for the foreseeable future. Neither did Vincie, Ken’s wife and primary caregiver.

“I had a doctor’s appointment and then I came straight home,” says Vincie. That was the last time she stepped outside their apartment complex.

When we spoke with Vincie, she was grateful to connect and opened up about her level of sheer exhaustion. “It’s scary for me. It’s very stressful. I feel as if everything is closing in on me.”

Vincie acknowledges that she and Ken each face their own health issues, are immunocompromised and need to take the right precautions to protect themselves.

“We haven’t been out of the apartment for 57 days,” she recalls. She knows the number off the top of her head. Hard to imagine… she’s been counting.

Together, Vincie and Ken struggle with the sudden loss of many supports and respite options. Regular help in the home has ceased due to social distancing requirements and new measures put in place by Alberta Health Services to contain the virus and keep the community safe.

And her concerns as Ken’s caregiver have escalated. Being in a small, confined space, and with mounting health issues, she acknowledges they are reaching their limitations. At 85 and 80 respectively, Ken and Vincie rely on supports from outside their home.

A handful of Ken’s most recent falls have frightened them both, putting his health and safety at risk and prompting Vincie to call 9-1-1.

Not all Calgarians know about the risks associated with falls for seniors. Falls are the most common cause of injury for older Canadians and one of the leading causes of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors. And most falls happen inside the home.

One fall took place recently around 3 a.m. The last fall really hurt Ken’s back.

“The only people who’ve been inside our apartment are the paramedics,” Vincie concedes.

Her ability to have any semblance of a normal routine has come to an abrupt halt. She no longer sees family or friends, shops for groceries or goes to church. She misses having regular contact with her two daughters, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They connect through the computer, but it’s not the same as putting her arms around them.

Club 36 has provided Ken and Vincie with some of their only connections to the outside world during the pandemic.