A caregiver assists a family member or friend with challenges resulting from illness, disability or aging.
Caregivers can be:
- The family member of someone with a brain injury, mental illness or addiction.
- The spouse of someone with heart disease, MS, Parkinsons, ALS, arthritis or dementia.
- The parent of a child with high needs or a disability.
- The adult child of aging parents who need help with appointments, home maintenance and finances.
- The main person checking in on a neighbour or friend because “there is no one else”.
These examples are just the beginning. The situations that can make someone a caregiver are endless.
Caregivers are an essential part of our society. There are more than 8 million caregivers in Canada- more than 1 in 4 adults. If you were to replace all the care they provide it would cost $66 billion per year.
Providing care comes at a cost. Many caregivers face negative consequences because of caregiving:
- Higher rates of stress, anxiety and depression
- Greater risk of burning out
- Difficult emotions like grief, anger, frustration and guilt
- Poorer physical health and lack of sleep
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Employment impacts including absenteeism, reducing hours and exiting workforce
- Difficulty finding resources and getting necessary support
- Strained family relationships
As a society, we need caregivers. The population is aging, and people are living longer with illness and disability. As care needs grow, we rely on caregivers to fill in the gaps. But caregivers can’t do it without support and recognition from the government, the system and the community.