When someone who is known to be looking after or helping someone is asked, “Are you a family caregiver?” several are quick to reply, “No.” When the question is re-framed as, “Do you look after a sick, disabled family member, aging parent or friend without payment?” the answer often changes to “Yes!”
Many family caregivers simply don’t self-identify as caregivers. However, they provide between 70-80% of all community care for the people they are helping. They do everything: daily check-in or telephone support, personal care, household management, transportation, case management and care co-ordination, advocacy and end of life care
Carers Canada (www.carerscanada.ca) info graphic on caregivers paints a very clear picture — “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when you become a caregiver.”
The guiding principles of the Canadian Caregiver Strategy are:
Thank a Family Caregiver: if you know someone who is an unpaid caregiver for someone, say thank you. Better yet, buy them a coffee or ask how you can help give them extra time.
Find good information: The more informed you are as a caregiver, the better you can care, and have a better understand of your options. The more you can find out about what to expect over time, the better decisions your family can make for future planning. The more you understand what your role is as a caregiver, the better you can provide the right type of support at the right time.
Good Support: Whether it’s a walk with a friend to vent, a caregiver support session or simply time away to rejuvenate, caregivers who feel supported are able to better carers. Don’t expect others to know what type of support or help you need; it’s up to you to take the initiative and ask for the support you need.
Good Team Players: Your team will include other family members and sibling, neighbours, close friends, community care providers, to name a few. Be clear in advance on what type of care and help is needed and assign everyone tasks best suited to their skills, availability and wiliness.
Watch for the Signs
Caregiver Consultations: How We Help Frail Elderly Parents
Long Distance Caregiving
– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC
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