Elderly Couple Torn Apart After 62 Years Of Marriage Because They Can't Live In Same Care Home

'They cry every time they see each other.'

26/08/2016 12:39

Wolf Gottschalk, 83, and his 81-year-old wife, Anita, have been married for 62 years.

But for the first time in decades the pair are living apart.

The couple’s family has been unable to secure them both a place in the same care home facility and living without one another is clearly taking its toll.

Their granddaughter, Ashley Bartyik, posted a photo of the pair crying at one of their meet ups, calling it the “saddest photo [she’s] ever taken”.

In the post, which has been shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook, Bartyik exaplained that her grandfather is currently staying at Yale Road in Surrey, Canada - a transitional facility for people waiting to get into nursing homes.

He’s waiting to move into The Residence at Morgan Heights where her nan lives, but a place is not currently available. 

 “After 62 years together in marriage they have been separated for eight months due to backlogs and delays by our health care system, whom have the power to have my grandpa moved to the same care facility as my grandmother,” Bartyik said.

“They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking. To make it worse, today he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Besides that limiting his time and making this more urgent, his dementia is growing ever stronger each day.”

Bartyik said her grandfather still has strong memories of her grandmother, but she’s worried that will change.

“We are afraid...that if they are living apart much longer, his memory of her won’t stay,” she said.

“This has been a strain on our family, making the 30 minute commute to bring her to see him, every second day, so he does not forget her.

“Now with the news of cancer, our fight to have them in the same facility is even more urgent.”

She added that the family is “financially, physically and emotionally exhausted” by the situation and desperate for help.

She said they have contacted their local health authority, The Fraser Health Authority, for help, but “none of [their] questions and concerns have been answered”.

“We want justice for my grandparents who after 62 years together deserve to spend their last moments in the same building,” she said.

Speaking to the MailOnline, a spokesperson from The Fraser Health Authority, Tasleem Juma, said the authority has been “working hard” with the family to get their loved-ones reunited. 

“One of the challenges with couple reunification is that they don’t necessarily need the same level of care at the same time. In this case, the Wolf’s care needs are considerably higher than his wife’s,” she said.

“He needs residential care while his wife needs assisted living care. This means we need to make sure the facility can accommodate both their needs.

“We have been in contact with the family as recently as last Friday, and will continue to work with them to reunite this couple. We hope to do so in the next few weeks.”

The Huffington Post UK has contacted The Fraser Health Authority for further comment, but has yet to hear back at the time of publication. 

Also on HuffPost

Suggest a correction