It is estimated that one in four Canadians (more than 8 million people) provide informal care to their family, friend or loved one. It can, at times, be stressful and overwhelming. Caregiving is very often an unsung effort and is not always appreciated by extended family members. Those who aren’t caregivers may not understand the time and effort it takes to take care of a loved one. Millions of caregivers take time off work each year to give care. Their unpaid, selfless dedication saves Canada’s healthcare system between $24 to $31 billion annually.
Informal caregivers are unpaid individuals who care for someone that requires help due to physical and / or cognitive conditions. They help the health care system immensely by freeing up hospital beds and putting less strain on government resources.
Although most caregivers report there are positive aspects to their care, caregiver responsibilities often result in physical and emotional stress, especially for caregivers who provide 24/7 care, or are seniors themselves.
The number of seniors aged 65 or over is expected to double over the next 15 years resulting in greater demand for caregiving. Spouses and adult children can expect to be responsible for the inevitable increase in caregiving duties. The following guide can be used for existing and potential future caregivers to ease their load and to reduce caregiver stress.
Are you a caregiver? You are not alone
It’s a challenge to be a caregiver. However, there are services that can assist you. Here’s a list of some caregiver services available in Canada and what they do.
Public Resources for Caregiving
In Canada, there are several federal and provincial government programs available that provide support for caregivers.
Your first resource for caregiver support in Quebec is your local CLSC. They provide a wide range of free health services. For caregivers that need health services close by, try a CLSC. Get a case worker assigned to your loved one and stress the need for support. You may not always agree with the amount of hours or services provided but this is a first start before exploring additional resources. The CLSC provides common health and social services as well as medical services.
In Ontario, the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) covers a wide range of programs similar to the CLSC in Quebec. For caregivers, there are community support programs available if you are struggling or stressed.
Associations for Caregiver Support
If you feel overwhelmed from caregiving, you’re not alone. There are several non-profit organizations such as NOVA and the Montreal Volunteer Bureau that provide valuable services in different regions of Montreal. Their services include in-home nursing and palliative care, to cover all stages of the aging patient. They don’t stop at providing care for the patient. They also have caregiver support groups for taking care of someone with ALS or Alzheimers. Their services are either free or low cost. Take advantage of these amazing programs to lift the stress off your shoulders.
There are many other associations that specialize in specific health issues such as the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, AGI Alzheimers Groupe, L’Appui, Parkinson Canada, ALS Society of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation to name a few.
Private In-Home Care Companies
Need more comprehensive assistance beyond public care? Try private in-home care services. They cover all sorts of services, from personal hygiene to nursing and medical care. While pricier, private caregiver services are available when you need it, so you can go to work or school with the peace of mind that your friend or family member is in good hands.
Online Caregiver Networks for Support
A source of caregiving support you may not be aware of are online caregiver support groups. If you don’t have physical caregiver support groups near you, you can access online networks made for caregivers. One of the most popular caregiver websites is Huddol, where you can share your experiences as a caregiver or talk to other caregivers who are going through similar situations. You can also access the latest caregiver news for advice on caregiving.
Senior Communities to End Caregiving Stress
At a certain stage, there is a point where caregiving or in-home care isn’t enough. If you’re feeling stressed as a caregiver, looking into retirement homes may be the best option. In one of our posts we go over the five warning signs that show it’s time for your elderly parent to transition to a senior home. If you recognize these signs, you should begin looking into retirement homes for your family member or friend.
The retirement home transition is challenging. Finding the right retirement home can be difficult when you’re already balancing caregiver duties and work. This is why when you decide it’s time for a retirement home, you should consult senior transition services. Retirement services like Lianas understand the stress that caregivers go through, and how choosing a retirement home is a difficult process. We provide emotional support to caregivers and our senior clients, to ease the caregiver and health burden.
For more information on caregiving, or to learn more about Lianas’ services, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-877-450-3365 or 514-622-8074 and ask for Matt Del Vecchio.