Canada is experiencing an aging population. By 2050, older adults 65 and older will represent 25% of the country’s overall population. There has been an increased focus on helping people age well at home, which has required friends and family members to play a more active role in helping their loved ones. It is estimated that approximately eight million Canadians act as caregivers to someone living with mental and/or physical disabilities, chronic diseases, or age-related challenges.
While being a caregiver can be a rewarding experience, it can also be challenging. Caregivers often grapple with constantly changing roles, grasping medical knowledge, emotional stress, financial strains, and changing family dynamics; they need greater affirmation and validation of their roles. The COVID-19 global pandemic has added a layer of complexity for caregivers who have had to practice physical distancing, while potentially taking on more responsibilities such as grocery shopping for their loved ones.
Common signs of caregiver stress include feeling tired, having difficulty sleeping, anxiety and depression. There are a number of resources and support groups that can help by providing tools, education and mental support. While in-person services may currently be limited, there are alternative internet-based strategies that can help improve the mental well-being of caregivers. The evidence suggests that these strategies can be effective, especially in the absence of in-person services.
It is important that we continue to recognize the critical role that caregivers have and let them know they are a valued part of the health care and support service team. If you or someone you know is a caregiver, our resources below may help you navigate through these current challenging times and in the future.