Statistics Canada reported in 2013 that at some point in their lives, 13 million Canadians (nearly half 46%) aged 15 and older have provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging needs. Overall, caregivers spent about of 3 hours a week caring for an ill or disabled family member or friend.
1.9 million caregivers are Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29, or “young carers” and many are not formally recognized in legislation due to their age. Young carers most typically look after their grandparents (40%), parents (27%) friends and neighbours (14%) and siblings or extended family members (11%). Nearly one in five young carers report caring for three or more people.
In 2012 in Ontario 29% of residents cared for a family member or friend. The role of caregivers has become more and more important, especially as the needs of our changing population continue to shift. Longer life expectancies and the transition of baby boomers into senior years mean that more people will need support now, and in the future.
It’s important that as caregivers, we develop good coping strategies and are aware of the resources that are available to help balance the care of a loved one with many other life demands. There are resources, tips and supports available!
Quick Facts - Canada
- Age-related needs were identified as the single most common reason requiring caregiver support. This was followed by cancer (11%), cardio-vascular disease (9%), mental illness (7%), and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (6%).
- Most often, parents received caregiving support. About half (48%) of caregivers reported caring for their own parents or parents in-law over the past year.
- Overall, caregivers spent about 3 hours each week providing caregiving support.
- Caregivers perform a range of tasks in caring for their family member or friend, transportation the most common (73%). Other tasks included housework (51%), house maintenance and outdoor work (45%), scheduling and coordinating appointments (31%), managing finances (27%), helping with medical treatments (23%) and providing personal care (22%).
- Women are the majority of caregivers in Canada at 54%. They were also more likely to spend more time per week on caregiving activities than men.
- Caregivers reported having multiple responsibilities. In 2012, 60% had a paid job or business and 28% had children under the age of 18. Despite these competing demands, 73% of employed caregivers were satisfied with their current balance between work and home life, with one in ten saying they were dissatisfied.
Tips for Caregivers
Take Care of Yourself: It’s important. Learn the signs and symptoms of burnout (a sense of being completely overwhelmed, unrewarded) and have tools in place to cope. Feeling stressed for long periods of time can affect your health, motivation, attitude and mood. It also affects your loved one’s health.
Burnout Symptoms: difficulty sleeping, back or neck pain, headaches, ongoing fatigue, changes in your weight, lingering colds, changes in eating patterns, easily irritated or frustrated, anger and resentment and/or feeling sad and lonely.
Resources for Caregivers
- Hospice Wellington: offers a wide range of in person and group supports for people with life-limiting illness and their families and caregivers. https://www.hospicewellington.org/what-we-do/support-programs
- Hospice Waterloo Region: offers a wide range of in person and group supports for people with life-limiting illness and their families and caregivers. http://www.hospicewaterloo.ca/
- HopeSpring: offers support, programs and counselling for those living with cancer, their family and caregivers. https://www.hopespring.ca/
- Young Carers Project: offers resources and support for young carers and community agencies to help young carers cope with responsibilities. http://www.youngcarersproject.ca/home
- Alzheimer’s Society: has help, groups, counselling and resources for caregivers. http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/ww
- St. John Ambulance Kitchener Waterloo: offers a home caregiver’s support program to provide information and support to those taking care of loved ones in the end stages of life. http://www.sja.ca/English/Community-Services/Pages/Home-Caregivers-Support-Program.aspx
- Waterloo Wellington Community Support Services: provides information about and access to many programs and services to support residents and caregivers. https://www.caredove.com/wwcss
- Waterloo Wellington Diabetes: has programs, education and resources for those living with diabetes and their families. http://www.waterloowellingtondiabetes.ca/public-home.htm
- Community Support Connections – Meals on Wheels and More: offers a range of services to support residents and their caregivers including: transportation, friendly visiting, meals on wheels, check-ins and help around the house. http://communitysupportconnections.org/services/
Adult Day Programs: offer programs, activities and socialization for seniors as well as respite for caregivers. Find a program in Waterloo Wellington. http://www.wwhealthline.ca/mapMultipleServices.aspx?id=10347
Brain Injury Association of Waterloo Wellington: has support groups, resources and classes for caregivers. http://www.biaww.com/
Ontario Caregiver Coalition: promotes resources and information to support caregivers. http://www.ontariocaregivercoalition.ca/resources-for-caregivers.html