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Taking care of caretakers: Celebrating National Carers Day

April 02, 2019  · 2 min read

Today is #NationalCarersDay, which recognizes the invaluable work that caregivers provide to the people they support everyday. Often, the responsibility of caring for a loved one in need of extra support or assistance falls on a family member.  In a recent article from the University of Toronto, Nathan Stall, PhD candidate, notes that more than one third of the population in the workforce also has the job of caring for a loved one.

Caregiving is often described as a job that a person can never fully clock out of. Balancing a full-time job, family responsibilities, and caregiving can often result in caregiver burnout.

IFA Expert, Dr. Anne Martin-Mathews, a professor in Ageing and Lifecourse from Vancouver BC, has focused part of her research on understanding the complex relationships between caregivers and the ones they care for.

A particular interest Dr Martin-Mathews focuses on is the concept of the “emotional vs. contractual nature of ‘care’." For family members, the motivation to care for their loved ones might weigh more on the side of an ‘emotional’ nature, whereas the feeling of obligation might at times lead to cognitive dissonance.  The latter may result in feelings of unresolved anger which may in turn lead to anxiety and depression. In addition to taking an emotional toll, caregiving can also take on a physical toll on the carer.

Speaking from a very personal experience, Nathan Stall discusses the care his grandmother provided for his ailing grandfather, stating:

We provide little to no training for caregivers yet we expect them to carry out complex tasks like managing medication regimens, dealing with complicated behaviours and being navigators and advocates for fragile individuals”.

At the IFA, this sentiment is mirrored. Ensuring older people have the support they need to ensure their health is taken care of is a right that needs to be protected.

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