Caregivers also need care! Let’s not sugarcoat it: while caring for an elderly parent can be immensely rewarding, it can also be physically, emotionally and financially draining. Without proper support, caregivers are at risk for burnout. Read on to learn more about Canadian sources of support and services for caregivers.
Support for caregivers
Caring for a loved one is no small task. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. There are lots of services and support programs available for Canadian seniors and the family members who help provide care for them.
Your personal Circle of Care
The people closest to you and your parents will likely be your first and most obvious source of support. Your spouse, siblings, cousins, and other family members, as well as friends, neighbours, and other close community members may all be able to provide practical or emotional help — from mowing the lawn to helping out with transportation or just checking in on your parent at regular intervals.
The CareEasy app lets you create a Circle of Care for your parent. You can invite anyone on your mom or dad’s care team to join: all they need is an email address and a smartphone. CareEasy lets you assign and keep track of who’s doing what, and when, as well as caregiving costs.
Your mom or dad can manage pretty well at home, but is starting to find it harder to cope with the tasks of daily living, like eating, bathing, dressing. Maybe household chores like cleaning, laundry or grocery shopping are becoming too difficult, or they’re finding it exhausting to get out of the house or to drive. And maybe you’re finding that it’s taking too much time and energy for you and your Circle of Care to help out.
If all this sounds familiar, home care — which provides care to the elderly in their own homes — services might be a great option.
Part-time homecare services
Some provincial public health units — for example, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) in Ontario — may provide a limited number of free or subsidized home-care services. Services like Meals on Wheels provide nutritious, low-cost meals (and regular check-ins) delivered right to your mom or dad’s home. To find community-funded support programs, check your provincial health ministry website.
If your mom or dad needs a bit more help, they — or you and your siblings — may be able to pay for a few hours of private help each day with tasks like cleaning, dressing, or meal preparation. You can expect to pay a personal support worker (PSW) $20-$30 per hour for this kind of care. Part-time nursing care will be more expensive, in the range of $60–$75 per hour and up.
Unsurprisingly, hiring someone to live with your parent to provide full-time support or nursing care will cost much more than part-time visits, upwards of several thousand dollars per month.
Assisted-living facilities go by many names: retirement homes, retirement care facilities, independent living facilities, active adult communities, adult lifestyle communities, supportive housing.
Whatever they’re called, they can be a great option for older adults who are mostly independent but might need some help with basic activities of daily living (ADLs), like showering, getting dressed or taking medication — or who just want the convenience and freedom not to have to worry about cooking, cleaning and laundry. They also provide company and community, through social and recreational activities, communal meals, and exercise programs. Many offer transportation services.
Assisted-living centres don’t offer medical or nursing care. Some, however, may be associated with nursing homes or long-term care facilities (see below), and residents can move from assisted-living to LTC while staying in the same building or facility.
It’s important to note that residents of assisted-living centres — unlike nursing homes — pay the full cost of their accommodations and care, which can range from about $1,500 to more than $6,000 per month.
Nursing homes and long-term care homes
Nursing homes offer a full spectrum of care for people who need significant, day-to-day help with the activities of daily living and medical and nursing care. Residents of nursing homes pay for the cost of accommodations (which are provincially mandated), while governments cover the cost of care. The costs will vary according to the type of accommodation (single or double room) and the province. They can arrange for zero in Nunavut to about $3400 in BC; in Ontario, residents pay about $2700 a month for a private room.
To qualify for this kind of care, your parent must first be assessed by your provincial health unit. You can do an Internet search for your province’s health unit to get more information.
Caregiver support programs
The stresses of caregiving are real. Studies show that unpaid caregivers — that’s 7.8 million people in Canada — are at higher risk for physical injury, emotional duress and financial strain caused by high stress levels. That’s why it’s so important for caregivers to find support.
Caregiver support groups
One of the best sources of support is other caregivers. When you join a caregiver support group, you surround yourself with people who know what you’re going through. They may be able to provide useful, practical information as well as emotional support. Many support groups are online, or on social media platforms like Facebook.
Local and provincial organizations may also provide support through in-person and online support groups, helplines, and chat rooms. For example, the Ontario Caregiver Organization’s Helpline is available 24/7 for questions, information and support. Family Caregivers of British Columbia offers a caregiver support line and a virtual caregiver support group. Similar programs are in place across the country:search online for “Caregiver Support” in your province.
Emotional support is crucial for caregivers — but emotional support doesn’t pay the bills. In addition to services that may be offered by your local public health unit, federal and provincial government programs can also ease the costs associated with care.
- Each province and territory offers drug benefit plans for seniors and other groups who need help.
- The federal medical expenses tax credit lets your parent (or their spouse or common-law partner) claim eligible medical expenses in order to reduce their income tax.
- If your parent has a disability that markedly restricts their basic activities of daily living, they may qualify for the federal disability tax credit.
If you need to take time away from work to care for your elderly parent, you may qualify for Family Caregiver or Compassionate Care benefits through the Employment Insurance Program. You can learn more about these benefits and apply online.
Get support throughout your entire caregiving journey
Caregiving is hard work! And caregivers need every support possible as they look after the needs of their aging loved ones. The CareEasy app was designed to support you on your caregiving journey, providing access to resources, community and support — all from the convenience of your smartphone. You don’t have to do it alone.