Wolf and Anita Gottschalk have been inseparable since 1954 – but they’ve been forced to live apart for the last eight months
A couple who have been married for 62 years are being forced to live apart for the first time because they cannot be placed in the same care home.
Wolf and his wife Anita Gottschalk were married in 1954 and after spending their teens in the same block of flats.
But now Wolf, 83, is being housed in care accommodation separately to Anita, 81 – and they say they are heartbroken.
The couple fell for each other in their teens as they were living with their families in the same building in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Not long after their wedding – which took place the year after Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation – the couple moved to Surrey, British Columbia.
Having lived together for six decades, and bringing up a son and two daughters, the pair have been split up for the last eight months because they’re unable to be placed together.
Granddaughter Ashley Bartyik wrote about the situation on Facebook, explaining: “After 62 years together, they’re inseparable. They do everything together.”
Anita is living in The Residence at Morgan Heights, where Wolf is now on the waiting list, but the governing Fraser Health Authority has no detail on when the move may happen.
Quitting her job to help her mum care for Anita, who has a pacemaker, Ashley says the stress is worsening her grandmother’s health.
“She has become almost completely immobile and uses a walker wherever she goes and a wheelchair depending on how far the walk is.
Wolf and Anita have a son and two daughters, but their family cannot help their plight
“My grandma can’t even kiss him [Wolf] goodnight now. He calls out her nickname, little mouse, for her when he sees her.”
In a post showing the couple crying, Ashley says: “The saddest photo I have ever taken.”
She explains: “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.
“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, but his memory of my grandmother has not faded a inch… yet.
“We are afraid however that if they are living apart much longer, his memory of her won’t stay.”
“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. He isn’t even getting proper care where he is, including no physical therapy which we were promised.”
Ashley says her ‘Opi and Oma’ deserve to be placed together and has asked for aid in raising awareness of their situation.
“Financially, physically and emotionally exhausted, me and my family are begging for your help my friends. Please share this and tag anyone that needs to see this post to get the help we need!”
Thousands of people have shared to post online, and a spokesperson from the Fraser Health Authority says they are aware of the “heartbreaking” situation.
“Anita went into assisted living in July and we’ve been working hard with the family to get their loved ones reunited ever since,” they told MailOnline.
The issue is that Wolf requires more intense care than Anita: “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.”
Meanwhile the waiting goes on for Ashely and her family.