At some point, all of us will be caregivers and will be in need of a caregiver.
Care givers are the invisible backbone of our health care system.
Ninety-six percent (96%) of individuals receiving long-term home care have an unpaid caregiver.[i] Caregivers contribute $25 billion in unpaid care to our healthcare system.[ii] By providing care at home, they play an essential role in alleviating the strain on the overburdened health care system.
With the aging population and longer life expectancy, the number of Canadian caregivers will not decrease. According to Statistics Canada, 28 percent of caregivers provide care to a loved one with age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.[iii] The number of caregivers caring for the elderly will increase commensurately with the growth in diagnoses of Alzheimer’s Disease, which is expected to almost double from 500,000 to over 912,000 in 2030.[iv]
Consider the impact caregiving will have on your career, your employees and on workplace productivity and benefit plans
Even though caregivers are providing supplemental care and support to the health care system, we cannot ignore the impact of caregiving on caregivers, workplace productivity and on the economy.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2013, of the 8.1 million caregivers in Canada, 6.1 million were employed and must balance the competing demands of work and caregiving. 50% of caregivers are between the ages 45 and 65, their peak earning years. Caregivers of seniors with dementia are more likely to experience distress (45%) than caregivers of other seniors (26%).[v]
Caregivers also need to be cared for
I witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of dementia on my father and the impact of care giving on my mother. Even though my father was a model patient, it was still a full-time job taking care of him. He needed care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At one point, my mother had to be hospitalized. That was when she realized that as the caregiver, she couldn’t do it alone.
The caregiver shouldn’t need to feel that she or he has to be a hero, even though caregivers are heroes. Their role in society is both indispensable and invaluable.
At some point, all of us will be caregivers and will need a caregiver.
If you know someone who is taking care of someone with dementia, please be sensitive, reach out and be kind.
November 1 – 7 is National Caregivers’ Week 2020.
Find out more about activities and resources for National Caregivers’ Week 2020
Camille N. Isaacs-Morell is the Executive Director, Alzheimer Society of Montreal.
[i] Source: Canadian Institute of Healthcare Information https://www.cihi.ca/en/1-in-3-unpaid-caregivers-in-canada-are-distressed Accessed on 1 November 2020.
[iii] Source: Carers Canada A Canadian Carer Strategy http://www.carerscanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/CC-Caregiver-Strategy_v4.pdf , Accessed November 1, 2020
[iv] Source: Alzheimer Society of Canada https://alzheimer.ca/en/about-dementia/what-dementia/dementia-numbers-canada Accessed on 1 November 2020