You might say that James is half the man he used to be, but that would only be telling half the story.
The other half of the story is the reason behind the first: James’ new living arrangement and new-found friendship with Jay.
In August 2017, James came to live with Jay, who became James’ Home Share provider through Communitas Supportive Care Society.
Being a Home Share provider gives people an opportunity to enrich their lives by welcoming someone with a disability into their home and family.
Throughout the relationship, Communitas is there to support both caregivers and the person receiving support, ensuring a good match of personalities and a safe living environment.
This was exactly what James needed. He admits that he was not living a healthy life.
“I was 247-and-a-half pounds. I was pre-diabetic. I had high cholesterol. I was killing myself with my bad diet,” he says. “I didn’t look after my teeth. I had really bad hygiene.”
Although he did a lot of walking, James’ eating choices and lifestyle habits left his body filled with fat and sugar and starved of nutrients. Jay remembers what he looked like.
“He was so much heavier and even his skin looked terrible,” Jay says. “He was tired all the time.”
But living with Jay meant that James’ lifestyle would take a drastic change for the better. Jay is committed to eating a healthy, whole-food diet, rich in organic vegetables and fruit and grass-fed meat. He has a gym membership and he takes James with him to work out regularly.
“I walk four miles an hour at a nine per cent incline,” James says proudly. “And now I even go for a two- to three-kilometre run every day. I couldn’t run last year.”
Today, James weighs 180 pounds and is fit and trim. He has dropped from a size 46 pant to a 34.
His dietitian says he is no longer pre-diabetic and is amazed at his progress.
Even more remarkable is the impact of James’ lifestyle change on other areas in his life. His psychiatrist and his counsellor both recently closed their files with James, declaring that he no longer needed his medications or to see them regularly.
“His counsellor had tears in his eyes and told James that he was so proud of him,” Jay says.
James also has a new job, working for Liberty Taxes. He proudly wears the red maple leaf mascot costume and draws attention to the business by waving and dancing.
Jay has also benefited from this living arrangement. He says that it was definitely an adjustment and, at first, when James was resistant to lifestyle changes, it was a challenge.
Yet as time has passed and James has experienced success, that has gotten easier.
“It has been a blessing, a gift,” Jay says.
“James is like a brother to me. He’s great company, he’s just a part of my life.”
To learn more about being a Home Share Provider, visit CommunitasCare.com/become-a-caregiver