Unpaid caregivers: More common than you’d think

If you are 45 years and older and a woman, you are likely caring for an aging parent or spouse

Unpaid caregivers, which are typically family but also include friends and neighbours, remain an invisible pillar in the B.C. health-care system and yet make up over 25 per cent of our population.

Canadian statistics on caregiving paint a very clear picture —it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when you will become a caregiver.

If you are 45 years and older and a woman, it is almost a complete guarantee that you are caring for an aging parent or spouse. Don’t worry men, we won’t let you feel left out;  77 per cent of male caregivers aged 45-64 are employed with almost 93 per cent working more than 30 hours per week.

Caregiving can be very rewarding; however it can also be exhausting and emotionally and physically demanding.  Over 60 per cent of caregivers have been caring for over three years, especially if it is a chronic disease.

When I ask caregivers what helps them most with their role, many listed three items:

Good information: The more you can find out about the person’s illness or disease, the better you can care. The more you can find out about what to expect over time, the more informed decisions your family can make for future planning. The more you understand what your role is as a caregiver, the better you can provide the right type of support at the right time.

Good support: Whether it’s a run with a good friend to vent or a caregiver support session, caregivers who feel supported are able to better carers. Don’t expect others to know what type of support or help you need; it’s up to you to take the initiative and ask for the support you need.

Good team players: Your team will include other family members and sibling, neighbours, close friends, community care providers, to name a few. Be clear in advance on what type of care and help is needed and assign everyone tasks best suited to their skills, availability and wiliness.

I am currently working with the Family Caregivers of British Columbia and I encourage family caregivers to take advantage of available programs and support offered through the Provincial Caregiver Program including:

• A resource centre for family caregivers: A family caregiver anywhere in B.C. can find one-on-one support for a variety of issues including emotional support, help navigating the system and referrals via a toll-free line, Skype or email.  Simply call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-877-520-3267 and chances are you’ll be forwarded to me to take your call.

• Education for family caregivers:

Education is an important part of the program, focusing on both family caregivers and health professionals. Webinar (or phone-only) sessions focus on practical solutions to the many issues that caregivers face. Health professionals will be able to learn more about these issues and gain ideas for including and supporting family caregivers in their work.

You can find a wealth of information and information as well as upcoming dates for webinars at familycaregiversbc.ca

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs regularly in the Comox Valley Record.

 

Just Posted

Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue kept busy across the province

CVGSAR had a busy week, sending rescuers as far away as Invermere

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Glacier View residents take a ride on the river

Ground Search and Rescue guides floaters on Puntledge

Brewing up some community engagement

Insp. Tim Walton says goodbye to the Comox Valley

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights can be misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Vancouver Whitecaps give up late goal in 2-2 draw with New York Red Bulls

Four of Vancouver’s next five games are at home

Most Read