Keystone Eldercare SolutionsResources for B.C. Caregivers By Wendy Johnstone Comox Valley Record, April 13, 2012 Each year around this time, I write about Family Caregiver Week in B.C. – May 5-11. It’s something I feel strongly about – acknowledging and recognizing the fact that in our province alone we have over one million incredibly giving and devoted unpaid caregivers who provide care and support for loved ones. The Canadian statistics on caregiving are best summed up as a “Labour of Love.” In a 2009 study conducted by the Canadian Public Research Network on balancing work and eldercare, key findings included: Over one in four (27.8 per cent) employed Canadians have responsibilities for the care of elderly dependents — a percentage likely to grow as the baby boom population ages Almost one in five employed Canadians (16.8 per cent) have responsibility for both childcare and eldercare (i.e. they are in the “sandwich” group) The majority (75 per cent) of employed caregivers are middle-aged women who combine paid employment with the care of an elderly parent with a chronic health problem Unpaid caregivers provide 80 per cent of all care at home Although the majority of caregivers are happy and willing to care for their loved ones, caregiving isn’t without its challenges. In our everyday work, family caregivers tell us the most difficult and stressful part of their role is “being the quarterback” which includes navigating the health care system and coordinating services and care. Other caregivers expressed difficulty finding and accessing affordable home or community care services as well as other programs for their aging loved ones and themselves as caregivers. I like to think a good starting point for some caregivers is this column and I want to remind readers that all columns can be found at www.keystoneeldercare.com under Resources. Another great program is the CareRing Voice Network. If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, you might think about signing up for tele-workshop, hosted by the Family Caregivers’ Network. There are two B.C.-wide free tele-workshops, “Family Dynamics and Caregiving: Separating the Past form the Present,” on May 7 from 12-1 p.m. and “Surviving Eldercare: Where Their Needs End and Yours Begin,” on May 10 from 7-8 p.m. You can register online at www.careringvoice.com or call 1-866-396-2433. Locally, our community is home to the Comox Valley Senior Peer Counselling, a non-profit organization that provides monthly Caregiver Support groups. For more information, please contact Susan Armstrong, Coordinator at 250-890-0099 or go to their website at www.cvspc.wordpress.com. Additionally, Seniors Services Under One Roof is a coalition of senior providers providing a one-stop resource for seniors and family caregivers. You are most welcome to drop by the office between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Monday to Friday) to ask questions about programs and resources or to browse information on the bookshelf. On a final note, I’d like to personally thank all of the family caregivers providing support and care to aging loved ones. Many caregivers are making sacrifices to their own lives to provide care for their loved ones. As a province and nation, we have a responsibility to care for them as much as for those they are caring for. Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.