The ageing population and longer life expectancy have transferred long term for individuals and family members suffering from chronic health problems or disabilities to home settings.
Whether caring for a disabled child, an elderly parent or chronically ill spouse, the physical, emotional and financial burden can be enormous.
The absence of extended caregiver relief programs and benefits has taken its toll on Canada’s informal health care providers. This has happened, despite some short-term compassionate care benefits for eligible workers who are caring for a gravely ill or dying family member
Statistics Canada estimates that there are over 2.8 million Canadians providing care to people with long-term health problems. Families represent the largest group of community caregivers for those with serious and persistent illness.
- According to a Health Canada study conducted in 2002, caregivers are most likely to feel stressed in terms of their emotional health, with close to eight in ten reporting that caregiving has resulted in significant (29%) or some (48%) emotional difficulties for themselves
- Over 75% of informal caregivers are women, mostly wives and daughters. Many belong to the growing “sandwich generation”, caring for young families at the same time as they care for elderly infirm parents.
- Due to the enormity and complexity of the task, caregivers of older people have higher than average rates of clinical depression.
Health Care Trends
A current trend in health care policies is to shift the provision of care services from institutional to community-based settings. This is translating into an increased requirement for individuals to care for family members in the home who have chronic health problems or disabilities.
Family members caring for those with serious and persistent mental illness tend to find themselves becoming a nurse/ counsellor/advocate/crisis worker/home-care and income provider all rolled into one.
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