Are You New to Caregiving?

By Family Caregivers' Network Society

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Do you find yourself providing more assistance to a relative or friend who is elderly or in declining health? Have circumstances changed suddenly in your family due to an accident or sudden illness?

Over one million people in B.C. find themselves in these circumstances as they take on the role of caregiver to a family member or friend. More time and energy will be used up navigating the health-care system, finding resources or figuring out how to meet someone else’s personal and medical needs.

Being a caregiver brings many new demands and responsibilities as well as a multitude of emotions. Feeling overwhelmed, guilty, resentful, anxious or even angry in response to the stress of the new situation, worry around your family member’s health or fear about how everyone’s life is going to change is natural.

You don’t have to take this journey alone. In fact, it is essential you ask for help and support from the beginning so you don’t burn out. Also, it is important to find ways to maintain your own interests, activities and social support so you don’t lose yourself completely while taking care of someone else.

Many organizations and services are available to help. These include:

Home Support Services
Designed to help people remain independent and in their own homes as long as possible. Home support includes personal assistance with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and light household tasks. If the care recipient meets the eligibility criteria through the local health authority, he or she can receive subsidized home support. Otherwise, home support is available for a fee through private home support agencies.

Respite Services
Respite can provide family caregivers with a physical and emotional break from the demands of caregiving. Respite can be for a couple hours or a couple weeks. It can take place in the care recipient’s home, in a residential care facility or the care recipient can attend an adult day centre.

Other Community Health Services
Various other forms of assistance - physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nutritional advice - are available through the Home and Community Care department of your local health authority or through private businesses.

Family Caregiver Support Organizations
Several non-profit agencies have been established solely to provide information, education and support for family caregivers. These organizations offer newsletters, support groups, educational workshops and resources about issues of concern to caregivers. A province-wide list is available on the Family Caregivers’ Network Society website at or by calling 250-384-0408.

Condition-Specific Organizations
Community agencies, such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society or Alzheimer’s Resource Centre, also offer services for family caregivers that are unique to those specific circumstances and can provide information about the progress of that disease so you can be better prepared for the future.

Volunteer Agencies
Volunteers are available to assist in many ways, including driving to medical appointments, visiting, reassurance calls, assistance with gardening and other services.

Next month: Legal Considerations for Caregivers



Senior Living Magazine is distributed throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland,
in Greater Victoria and across Vancouver Island.

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