Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eldercare: Caregivers in 2008

Statscan put out a new study, based on 2007 data. They found that 43% of caregivers are between ages 45 and 54. At this age and stage, these are people with wisdom, expertise and some managerial experience in the workforce. This is the population or workers who are the trainers, the mentors and the advocates.

Care includes: personal care, tasks inside and outside the home, transportation, medical care, care management. These tasks, in the health care field, can be divided up into ADLs and IADLs. Task that are required to be performed daily, and are more intimate are called ADLs (e.g., dressing, eating, bathing), versus IADLs, less intensive, (e.g., medical appointments, banking). ADLs tend to be delivered more often by women, the IADLs by men.

They found that aging female baby boomers (those aged 45 - 60), who may have put off having a family, are now sandwiched between increasingly frail parents, and adult children still living at home. For those women, like me, who entered the workforce, depend upon paid work to survive. Some are hard-pressed to provide the extra care many seniors require even when situated in a Long-Term Care (LTC) facility.

Nursing staff and PSWs provide care in a variety of settings: LTC, through Red Cross Transfer Payment Agencies, respite care, supportive living housing, for-profit home care agencies...Eldercare can be provided in both retirement and Long-Term Care homes. The differences are huge.
Clients, or residents as LTC patients are called, include seniors, the disabled, and those with short or long term medical conditions, both young and old. With the industry in short supply of both medical and non-professional staff, caregivers, and alternate decision makers must step in and provide extra support.

This was my situation. My father, with a brain tumour, was unable to feed himself, sat for hours in a wheelchair unable to manipulate this chair up and down halls. I found the stress ubearable and had to quit work.

In fact,

Study findings include:

  • More 20% of caregivers provided care to a senior living in a care facility such as supportive housing, a hospital or a nursing home.
  • Caregivers were more likely to be women who were employed and married.
  • One in four caregivers, or about 675,000 people, were themselves seniors.
  • One-third of these senior caregivers were over 75.
  • Fifty-four per cent of caregivers were coping "very well" with their responsibilities, while 42 per cent said they were "generally OK" with the role of caregiver.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 caregivers were women (57%)
  • Approximately 8 out of 10 caregivers assisted their senior with transportation needs
  • more than half of the caregivers (57%) were employed.
  • Less than five per cent of caregivers said they were not coping well with their responsibilities.
I wonder about the last stat; I faced undiagnosed depression until I met with my doctor to get a medical certificate for stress leave. I believe this is an underdiagnosed medical condition. There is a certain amount of denial as your body catches up with your mind, spirit, and brain. Remember to breathe.

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