Approximately one in four Canadians aged 15 or older — or 7.8 million people — had to take time off work to care for a loved one in 2018, according to recent data from Statistics Canada.
Given that, it’s likely that many of your clients and their families were, or could be, impacted by the declining health of a relative.
Caregivers perform a variety of tasks that differ in level of intensity and degree of emotional demand. Family members or friends can have long-term health conditions that include a physical or mental disability, or can suffer from issues related to aging.
While 64% of caregivers in 2018 said they spent less than 10 hours a week on such responsibilities, 15% spent 10 to 19 hours and 21% spent 20 hours or more.
The majority of caregivers reported caring for parents or parents-in-law (47%), followed by a spouse or partner (13%), a close friend, colleague or neighbour (13%), an extended family member (10%), a grandparent (9%), or their child (8%).
Unpaid caregiving has become increasingly prevalent, partly because it reduces the stress on health services but mainly because “care recipients benefit when they are able to remain at home and maintain a positive quality of life,” said Statistics Canada in its release.
However, a significant percentage of caregivers (70%) said they received some form of help or assistance for their caregiving duties.
The most common form of social support came from the caregiver’s partner (45%), followed by help from their children (43%) and extended family members (39%). In terms of financial help, funding most commonly came from friends and family (14%), followed by federal tax credits (8%) and government programs (6%).
Yet, some caregivers said the social and financial support is not adequate.
The majority of caregivers with unmet needs said they would have appreciated more financial support, tax credits and government assistance (68%). Additional needs included home care or support (40%), additional information or advice (39%), and help from medical professionals (36%).
Caregiving can have potentially negative impacts on a caregiver, as it can cause high stress, financial struggles and even physical and mental health problems. Financial and social support can help mitigate these effects, and can be as simple as additional unpaid assistance from friends.