The Canadian Source Of Employee Pension Fund Investment And Benefits Plan Management

Back Issues

December 2007

Caregiver Stress

By: Jerry Amernic

Valdina Woods is a teaching assistant in Oakville, ON, with a 90-year-old father who lives in his own house. Her mother passed away two years ago and her father now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. He has lived in the same house for 55 years and doesn’t want to move into a nursing home or retirement residence. One morning, he fell in the bathroom, cut an artery in his head, and spent two weeks in hospital. Woods now has a caregiver come in every morning to prepare her father’s breakfast and take him to his daily senior’s program.

“I keep my cell phone with me at all times when I’m at work,” says Woods, who visits her father every day on her lunch break to run errands for him. “My employer is very good about this, but it would be a big problem if I was a teacher who had to be in the classroom all day. There wouldn’t be anyone who could take over the class.”

caregiver stress

Focus For The Future

The caregiving community is making this issue a focus for the future because the need will only be increasing and employers may not be doing nearly enough when it comes to their employees who are providing care for elderly parents, and doing it on company time. As Canada’s population continues to age, and more and more people are living longer, the burden increasingly falls on working family members, usually sons or daughters, to shoulder the brunt of the load looking after their mothers and fathers. Today, a great many people – 40-year-olds looking after 70-year-olds or 50-year-olds looking after 80-year-olds – are having big problems at work with this issue and getting stressed out.

A Statistics Canada study, ‘Balancing Career and Care,’ says in the year 2002, more than 1.7 million Canadian adults aged 45 to 64 were providing informal care to almost 2.3 million seniors who had long-term disabilities or physical limitations. Of those caregivers, 70 per cent were employed and many of them, especially those working full-time, were being pulled in two directions. The numbers say that 66 per cent of the 828,000 Canadian women and 78 per cent of the 787,300 Canadian men who provided care to elderly family members held down a job. Women especially felt stressed due to balancing their responsibilities, as they were the majority of caregivers. In the study, 82 per cent of Canada’s working women devoted considerable time to caregiving.

When greater levels of caregiving are combined with higher levels of employment, the result is higher proportions of stress on the job. The study also said among women caregivers who were still working, 21 per cent reported that the need to provide care would be a likely reason for retirement. And among those who had already retired, one in five said caregiving was a reason.

“Three in 10 workers in the 45 to 64 years of age category are caring for a senior,” says Karen Seward, senior vice-president of business development and marketing at Shepell·fgi, a provider of health and wellness solutions for employers and their employees. “On average, they devote 29 hours a month caring for a senior parent. Even if they do it on offbusiness hours, it has an effect on the workplace.”

next >

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Subscribe to Daily News Alerts

Subscribe now to receive industry news delivered to your inbox every business day.

Interactive issue now onlineSubscribe to our magazinePrivate Wealth Online