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Support For Caregivers

CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre

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In 2018, 25% of the population of Canada were caregivers. Of these caregivers, almost 1.5 million were aged 65 and older

Whether they are new to the role or have been doing it for a while, caregivers will have concerns related to their responsibilities.  Caring for someone is very rewarding but can also be challenging.  While stress related to caregiving varies depending on the number of hours per week spent giving care, 33% of senior caregivers reported that their responsibilities were stressful or very stressful.

An important part of what caregivers do, includes giving care or organising services. However, they are also advocates for their loved one to ensure adequate care. As health problems of those receiving care progress, the caregivers’ responsibilities will change, as will their emotional reactions. Their understanding of this role might vary from that of the person receiving care. The expectations of each will be different depending on who they are and their life experiences. 

With the right information, caregivers will be better prepared to help their loved ones and to support them in making appropriate decisions concerning treatment and care.


Role of the caregiver

As a caregiver, it is important that you:

  • Understand your role and know your rights. Ask questions about your responsibilities.
  • Take the time to understand the facts about your loved one’s illness and its symptoms.  
  • Ask questions and learn about the illness’s eventual impact on your loved one’s ability to care for him or herself.
  • Listen to your loved one’s worries and questions and help them convey these concerns to the health care team.
  • Take care of yourself and ask for support from friends and family but also from the health care providers.


Risk of burnout for a caregiver

Caregiver burnout is a persistent fatigue directly related to the caring role.  Burnout refers to a feeling of inability to continue to provide the best possible care. It does not mean that the caregiver does not want to help, but that he or she is emotionally and/or physically exhausted. Some symptoms can set in gradually.

Signs of potential burnout

  • Feeling irritated, impatient, exhausted or pulled in too many directions.
  • Experiencing intense emotions or sudden and frequent changes in mood.
  • Experiencing the sentiment of isolation from your family and friends.
  • Feeling like you are unable to meet the needs and expectations of the person for whom you are caring.
  • Preoccupied or affected by difficulties related to eating or sleeping.
  • Unable to focus or having difficulty concentrating and making decisions.

If you are experiencing any of the above, it would be helpful for you to talk to a health care professional.


Suggestions for maintaining your health and preserving your own well-being

  • Eat right, exercise and get enough sleep.
  • Create a network to prevent isolation. Join a support group for caregivers.
  • Set your limits and accept help when offered.  
  • Learn techniques to help manage your stress.
  • When possible, ask family members and friends to get involved to the extent that they are able. For example: Your brother who lives far away, could search for services online or make some calls.
  • Talk about your needs with your friends and family and with the health service providers who are partners with you in caring for your loved one. They can offer practical solutions to meet their needs and can help you deal with the emotional difficulties related to your role. 


Don’t know the services in your area?

Health and social services in Québec
Establishments offering services to Autochtones and northern populations
Non-profit organisations
Health and social services in Canada
  • Government of Canada
  • Alberta
  • Colombie-Britannique
  • Manitoba
  • Nouveau-Brunswick
  • Terre-Neuve
  • Territoires du Nord-Ouest
  • Nouvelle-Écosse
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Île-du-Prince-Édouard
  • Saskatchewan
  • Territoires du Yukon


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