In Praise of Family Caregivers
My 86-year-old Father had surgery last week. He had been on a list for two years for ablation surgery to control atrial fibrillation. Although my Dad is generally in good health, he does have periodic falls, which limits his mobility, and like other 86 year olds, he needs help navigating technology. These days, almost everything we do requires filling out forms online. My parents live in their own house and both still drive. In recent years, local business people and grandchildren do the maintenance and yardwork when they are around. They are healthy, day-to-day they are able to take care of each other, but periodically still require some “caregiving”, particularly help with negotiating a growingly complex world.
Like most elderly couples, my parents want to stay in their home as long as they possibly can. My sister lives a few kilometers from them and has become “the Family Caregiver”. She sorts out their difficulties with the internet provider; she attends meetings with healthcare providers and helps when they get sick or injured. She is not a full-time caregiver but helps with the everyday things that become more challenging with age and are essential to having them stay in their home.
It turns out my family is not too different from many Canadian families. The statistics related to caregivers in Canada are revealing. One-third (34%) of caregivers over 65, care for a spouse or partner1. This increases to (47%) of seniors aged 75 or older1. A study commissioned by Statistics Canada found that seniors spent on average 20 hours a week caring for their spouses. When asked about stress, 1/3 reported that their caregiving responsibilities were stressful or very stressful and (27%) of seniors who were caregivers reported that their health had suffered because of their caregiving responsibilities1.
Although many caregivers noted personal gratification from the role, (63%) reported they had no choice but to take on caregiving responsibilities1. We live in a great country, but family caregiving frequently goes unacknowledged by the healthcare system and our politicians. At BIOS we know family caregivers are the backbone that supports our aging parents, friends and spouses. We acknowledge the work you do, and thank you for your dedication.
Author: Mark Beaton, Senior Vice President of Marketing, BIOS Medical
The Experiences and Needs of Older caregivers in Canada, Paula Arriagagda.
November 24, 2020