Caring for Loved Ones

Canadian adults who assume accountability for caring for a family member while also maintaining the everyday responsibilities of their own lives have been termed the ‘sandwich generation.’ They feel accountable for both the young and old, but have highlighted that committing to caring for a family member can impact much more than time. Almost half of Canadian caregivers expressed that caring for a loved one has prevented them from travelling or taking on a hobby.

Last week, the Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA) announced a signature publication, Portraits of Home Care in Canada 2013 (Portraits 2013), a unique profile of provincial, territorial and federally funded programs. Portraits 2013 sheds light on why home care is important to Canadians and the vital role it plays in our changing health care system.  Home care helps frail seniors live independently, offers cost effective alternatives to hospital and long-term home care and is a critical part of chronic disease management.

A recent survey conducted by Bayshore Home Health, Canada’s largest national provider of home healthcare services, revealed that half of Canadian caregivers are spending 17 hours per week on average caring for a loved one at home. Of those surveyed, the majority revealed that they do not think others understand the commitment necessary and therefore, not surprisingly, 49 per cent of respondents expressed that they wished for professional help in taking care of a loved one.

The situation is a symptom of the aging baby boom population. The need for care is becoming more prominent but, while Canadian caregivers are going the extra mile for their loved ones, many are making ever-greater personal sacrifices in order to do so. In fact, 60 per cent said they felt they go ‘above and beyond’ what is expected of them in caring for a loved one.

“Canadians are the quiet champions of health care.  They are conscientious and feel obligated to take care of their loved ones at home but may underestimate the commitment involved,” Stuart Cottrelle, president of Bayshore Home Health, said in a statement.

In 2011, 1.4 million Canadians received home care, a 55 per cent increase from 2008. Nationally, one in every six seniors is receiving home care services and, with our aging population, the demand for home care is expected to escalate. Portraits 2013 identified ten provinces and territories that are implementing specific programs to help frail seniors live independently in their homes. Unfortunately, the resources and funding does not paint the same picture.

“With increasing demand and limited resources, the onus of care falls on family caregivers who provide the majority of home support services to the frail elderly and to those with chronic, long-term conditions,” John Schram, President of CHCA, said in a statement.  “We must provide appropriate supports for family caregivers to make sure they don’t burn out or experience financial hardship from their involvement in care.”


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