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.
I am included in the overworked multitasked care provider when my terminally ill mother was sent home to die. She was diagnosed with advanced spinal cancer which left her paralyzed from the waist down. Even after her death, the family recalls with stunning clarity the trauma of end-of-life care for my dying Mom. The challenges range from assisting with medications; grooming and personal hygiene; urinary and bowel elimination; nutrition and fluids; skin care and prevention of wounds; infection prevention.; musculoskeletal disorders that affect free movement and other issues of spirituality.
I later received training as a personal support worker and wished I knew then what I know now, about caring for the elderly, and disabled. There are lots of information available but often the families of elders needing care are not aware of the various new products and service to promote healthy living and healthy lifestyle that helps both the caregiver and those in care.
I have been wanting to share some of what I have learnt to help you, women like myself on whom much of the responsibility of giving care. I want to share some of the popularly products used in top long-term care facilities that are available to caregivers. Products that will uplift the physical environment in terms of the smell, appearance and feel of the home. Many of these products are affordable and accessible.
There are support groups, videos, talk shows, product reviews, book reviews and tips and guidelines on nutrition, diet, exercise and communicating with those in our care.
I write from the perspective of a caregiver, working in a long-term care facility in Canada. Some important issues of the elderly are the more familiar hearing and vision disorders. There are dementia, disorientation, delirium. Speech and language disorders; It is important to note that care facilities are not confined to issues of the aged. There are residents in care in the 30s, 40s and 50s who are in care due to head and body injuries sustained in accidents. A few may suffer from the early onset of mental disorders as dementia and depression for example.
We want to enhance not only the lifespan but the healthspan of the caregiver and those in our care. We welcome feedback. You may start the journey by checking this link careaids for more information.