Caring for the Caregivers

Illustration man talking to senior with hand on his shoulder

One in four Canadians is a caregiver. Many are unpaid, and the choice to care for a loved one comes at a cost.

Spouses, adult children, and siblings often step in to support loved ones as they age or require more assistance. It’s honourable and beautiful—it’s also very challenging. More than one in three unpaid caregivers report that they are distressed and experiencing feelings of anger, depression or an inability to continue their caregiving activities. 

Chances are you know a caregiver who needs support. Here are six things you can do to care for our caregivers.

Words of Encouragement. Acknowledge their hard work and dedication. Write the words down, and make a point of saying them out loud. Remind them that you see them and you appreciate them.

Support Self Care. Put time and resources into creating opportunities for a caregiver to regularly get outside, exercise, meditate, or go for a massage.

Give Them A Big Break. Rest from the relentlessness of care routines is essential. Adult Day Care programs can provide opportunities for caregivers, and so can respite programs. Do what it takes to facilitate an extended break to allow rest and rejuvenation.

Provide Emotional Support. Caregivers need a safe place to share their feelings and experiences. You can provide a listening ear or help them find a support group for carers at a local seniors centre. Professional counsellors and therapists can also be very helpful.

Lend a Helping Hand. Pitch in with daily tasks that lighten the load. Even better, organize a group who can come alongside and regularly shop, cook, clean, drive and be a companion. 

Encourage Healthy Boundaries. It can be difficult for caregivers to let go. The painful decision to seek professional care for a spouse, parent or sibling requires courage and wisdom. Create safe, non-judgemental spaces for hard conversations.

When we support and empower caregivers, we ensure that they and the seniors they care for live their best lives, filled with respect, dignity, and love.

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