Many people complain about the state of the health care system in Canada, but without the millions of dedicated, unpaid family caregivers across the country, the system would look a lot worse. There are an estimated 4-5 million Canadians who are currently caring for family members with long-term health problems. They are the invisible backbone to the Canadian health care system. If you are a family caregiver or know someone who is, take a moment to today to give yourself or them a pat on the back. You deserve it!
Fact #1 - In 2002, caregivers were estimated to provide more than 80% of long-term care and contribute over $5 billion in unpaid labour anually. (Fast, J., Niehaus, L., Eales, J., & Keating, N. 2002a, A profile of Canadian chronic care providers)
Fact #2 - Nearly 2 million people combine eldercare, paid work, and even child care. Many are women, but 10% of all men in Canada are also caregivers.(Cranswick, K. 2003, General Social Survey, Cycle 16: caring for an aging society)
Fact #3 - In 2002, 1.7 million adults provided informal care to nearly half again as many seniors. (Statistics Canada 2002, Balancing career and care)
Fact #4 - Only 35% of households with caregivers report income over $45,000. (Health Canada 2002, National Profile of Family Caregivers in Canada - Final Report)
Fact #5 - Employed female caregivers are more likely to make workplace adjustments than male caregivers. (Walker, J. 2005, Reworking work: the experience of employed caregivers of older adults)
Fact #6 - Caregivers of persons with chronic or long-term conditions spent more than 15.6 million hours/week (collectively) providing caregiving support. (Fast, J., Niehaus, L., Eales, J., and Keating, N. 2002a, A profile of Canadian chronic care providers)
Caregiving can be a stressful but rewarding experience. As a family caregiver, it's important to provide the right support to your loved one. In return, it's just as important for you to be supported in your efforts. Surround yourself with friends and family who can be "cheerleaders" or can step in from time to time when you need a break, whether it's for a few hours or a weekend or more.