Caring for the Calgary caregivers
Are you a caregiver for a senior parent, relative or loved one, looking after them at home? You are not alone. According to the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), 28% of people provide care for an ageing family member, friend or neighbour in Canada.
In the first of two articles, we focus on you, the home caregiver. We discuss how your mental and physical health can be affected, and offer some solutions too.
The contribution of Canadian caregivers
The contribution of informal caregivers to the Canadian health care system is considerable, not only in terms of care given but all the ‘hidden’ ways caregivers provide help, from financial support to taking care of paper work and ‘admin’. According to the Health Council of Canada:
“Unpaid or informal caregivers provide up to 75% of care services, which equates to about $24–$31 billion in unpaid work annually.”
Who is caring for you, the caregiver?
According to Dr. Nathan Stall, associate editor, CMAJ:
“Our ability to support informal caregiving remains one of Canada’s most pressing health care and societal issues.”
At Vytality at Home we couldn’t agree more. Every day we see family caregivers taking on the multiple roles of health worker, nurse, housekeeper, cook, personal living assistant, transport provider, financial provider and more, often alongside their own life commitments of family and work. A staggering 35% of the population is also a caregiver-employee (CE), both working and providing caregiver support at any given time.
That’s why we offer a range of services to help you, the regular caregiver, the support and help you need, to ensure you take care of yourself as well as you take care of your loved one.
Taking care of your mental and physical health
It’s very important that as a caregiver, you take good care of yourself. Caregiving is stressful, and both mentally and physically tiring. As a result, caregivers are:
- More prone to depression
- Have high levels of stress and frustration
- At higher risk of heart disease
- Likely to have diminished immunity
- Vulnerable to alcohol and drug misuse
Indeed, studies also suggest that constant caregiving without respite can lead to increased mortality rates amongst caregivers.
Many caregivers don’t realise the strain they are under, and that can lead to caregiver burnout. Burnout happens when all the elements of caregiving without sufficient support reach a peak. Caregivers approaching burnout may be:
- Constantly feeling stressed and ‘snappy’
- Physically tired
- Not getting sufficient sleep
- Unable to have a social life
- Not interested in former hobbies
- Unable to ‘switch off’ and relax
- Feeling resentful or angry
Caregivers: it’s OK to ask for help.
Do it now. Don’t wait until the pressure gets too much. Talk to friends, talk to family and get the help you need so you can start to care for yourself and live your own life. Once the burden of care is shared, even just a little, you’ll feel more positive, and that in turn will help the person you care for feel better too.
Avoid burnout with respite care
Professional respite care gives you a break from the responsibility of caregiving, backed with the reassurance that your loved one is in very safe hands. From personal care and medication reminders to cooking, laundry and light cleaning, our respite care service in Calgary can replicate the care you provide, and more.
Our experienced caregivers always add that crucial home care element: companionship. We see first-hand the restorative power of a new face, a new person to talk to, and the enjoyment of a chat, a game of cards or chess in the person you care for. We also see a better and more relaxed you from the moment you step outside the door for a well-earned break.
We also see you return refreshed and revitalised to a happy senior who has probably enjoyed the experience as much as you have!
Respite care for ALL caregivers
Our Calgary respite care available for ALL caregivers, not just those looking after seniors. We offer respite care for those looking after loved ones with disabilities, chronic health conditions, and dementia/Alzheimer’s (subject to in-home assessment).
Our respite care ranges from a daytime 2-hour visit to short-term live-in care, whoever you are caring for, whatever their age, or relationship to you. A recent study shows that:
“For women, caring for a spouse or children was more stressful and detrimental to mental health than caring for parents or others. Similarly, for men, caring for a spouse and for children was more stressful than caring for others.”
Respite for caregiver-employees (CEs)
If you care for a senior relative in your home and have paid employment, you’ll know how hard it is to find time for yourself. The pressure of continuing to work to both advance your own career and to also financially support the person you are caring for can be immense.
If you are in this position, ask your employer about caregiver-friendly workplace policies (CFWPs). Your company may be able to help with a whole range of support services, from flexible working hours and job sharing to paid and unpaid leave, and financial assistance. They may also offer employee assistance plans and insurance coverage. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Our respite care services allow you to take a break from both work and caring, whether for just a few hours or a long-overdue holiday with the family.
For holidays, our live-in care service places an experienced caregiver in your home, so your loved one is properly cared for in familiar surroundings, without the need to temporarily move to a retirement home or residential care.
During working hours
Our home care service provides regular visits throughout the working week, so you can work longer if you wish, or have more time for yourself. With a minimum 2 hour visit duration, we can ensure your loved one can receive any personal care they require, and still have time for a little light housekeeping, preparing a meal or just enjoying a crossword together.
With the Vytality app installed on your phone, you can video chat with the caregiver at specific times, and literally see how things are at home! In turn, your loved one can chat with you and feel involved in your adventures, and also keep in touch with other family members so you don’t have to be ‘on call’ whilst you’re away.
Tax breaks for caregivers
Many family caregivers help out financially with the costs of care, either formally or informally through providing ‘benefits’ such as transport, grocery shopping, etc. Tax breaks are available for eligible caregivers, including:
- Family Caregiver Amount Tax Credit
- Medical Expenses Tax Credit
- Disability Amount Tax Credit Transfer
Financial assistance schemes in Alberta also include:
- Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program
- Alberta Seniors Benefit
For more details, see https://www.alberta.ca/seniors-financial-assistance.aspx
Need respite care now?
Call us to discuss your home care situation – we have years of experience and are happy to help even at short notice.
Look out for our second article in the series:
Caregiving in 2019: looking after your physical health