Today is National Caregiver's day, a day for celebrating caregivers across our country. What exactly is caregiving? Caregiving refers to providing care of any type for another individual and can include tasks such as personal care, cleaning, lawn maintenance, performing medical treatments and emotional support. 5.4 million Canadians are caring for an older adult (1), a role that is notorious for negative impacts on health and finances. Although the gap is closing in caregiving duties for men and women, women still devote more time performing caregiving activities and bear the brunt of any recourse for time spent on caregiving activities. Women report negative impacts on careers, social interactions and a reduction in work hours to provide care (2).
On National Caregivers day we commend care partners and caregivers who devote their time, finances and energy towards improving the quality of life for someone they love. We want to challenge the stereotype that one individual is responsible for providing caregiving, and move towards the idea that everyone is a caregiver. Within family units, communities, and long-term care homes there is not one individual who provides all care. What can you do to help care for an older adult with dementia in your life? Everyone has a role to play and something they can bring to the table. While some may be more comfortable with personal care and medical assistance, others can also provide care by doing light housekeeping, cutting the grass, or getting groceries. When we all work together, we lighten the load and can reap the benefits of caregiving, with 68% of individuals reporting it strengthened their relationship.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by your caregiving responsibilities remember communication is key. Reach out to your supports to see how you can delegate responsibilities. Even if family is far away they can provide support from wherever they are. Many grocery stores allow for online ordering, with doorstep delivery. Other ideas include phone-call check-ins, financial support, and appointment management. For family members who live close by, sit down together and talk openly about how to manage responsibilities and expectations. And remember, get everyone involved! Grandchildren, neighbours, friends and community members all have a role to play. If you are still feeling overwhelmed reach out to your local Alzheimer's Society to access resources for caregiving support.
Happy National Caregiver's Day, share your caregiving stories below!