Caring for Gordon
"You can't just say the sandwich is in the fridge," Anna Walz says. "I have to say the sandwich is in the fridge on the top shelf next to the cream."

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 15/98) - For five years Anna Walz has cared for her husband Gordon in a way that wives don't usually care for husbands.

Gordon Walz is cognitively impaired, a condition doctors diagnosed five years ago when a blood disorder led to the rupture of a brain aneurism, causing blood to seep into his brain.

"He suffers from fatigue, so I do a lot of encouraging. I have to prepare meals and leave a lot of notes."

Basically, caring for Gordon is a big job and caring for him can be draining, Walz says. She drives him places and regularly reminds him to do things.

"You can't just say the sandwich is in the fridge," Walz says. "I have to say the sandwich is in the fridge on the top shelf next to the cream."

Ever since Gordon's aneurism, Walz has sought out a support group to help her cope.

Sometimes, she says, the most important thing is to have someone to talk to and vent feelings. This can be important for the security of knowledge that she is not alone.

Fortunately, people like Walz have somewhere to go this Saturday.

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. there will be a stress-management workshop at the Baker Centre to help family and friends who care for the chronically ill, disabled and the elderly.

Counsellor Gillian Enright and registered massage therapist Mary Wasylycia will speak at the workshop and offer some tips how people can feel more at peace.

Lunch will be provided and organizers are urging people to phone to reserve a spot and then come to help form a valuable social network of people in similar situations.

Walz, an Aven Manor certified nursing assistant says that, though she is trained to care for people, it is different when the person is her husband. "This is someone who has been my equal for 35 years."

Walz says the workshop should help her realize there are people worse off than she is, help her help others with advice and insight from her perspective and give her the opportunity to make friends in similar situations.

Meanwhile home-care worker Kay Naidoo sits in her home filled with incense and spiritual Hindu art.

The 25-year Yellowknife resident is part of the home-care support system that gives regular care-givers breaks for a few hours at a time.

"They can go for a walk or to sit and read or have a coffee," Naidoo says.

Naidoo also visits those who care for parents or chronically ill relatives and just listens.

"Quite a few people do get stressed out and don't have the coping skills."

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