Statistics Canada 2012 indicated that 28% of Canadians provided unpaid care to a family member or friend. Just less than half (12% of all caregivers) were seniors themselves. In fact, this group was most likely to spend the longest hours per week providing care. Almost one quarter of this group provided 20 hours or more of care per week, which is almost twice the amount of time provided by those aged 45 to 54.
This month, The Vanier Institute released their “In Focus” report highlighting these figures. While many within this category may have retired, their figures show an increase in those that have returned to some type of paid employment, with more men than women (18.7% compared to 10.4%). Twenty percent in 2015 were actually working full time hours and 27% were working in a volunteer capacity.
I have written extensively on the joys and challenges of caregiving and for seniors it is no different. While many have found that “caregiving can have a positive impact on the well-being of caregivers themselves” many also found (28%) that it can “somewhat or very stressful” and 19% said that their “physical and emotional health suffered”. Like so many other things in life, we need to find the right balance. For many of us, we become caregivers by need rather than choice.
As Roslyn Cater wrote in one of her speeches: “After all, caregiving is a universal subject. One of my colleagues once said: There are only four kinds of people in this world
- Those who have been caregivers;
- Those who currently are caregivers.
- Those who will be caregivers; and
- Those who will need caregivers.”