BC Senior's Advocate says more family caregivers distressed than 2 years ago
B-C's Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says, over the last two years, things have deteriorated for unpaid caregivers trying to care for an aging relative at home.
The report, Caregivers in Distress: A Growing Problem, is an update to a 2015 report that indicated 29% of unpaid caregivers are experiencing symptoms of distress such as anger, depression or feelings of not being able to continue with their caregiving duties.
Mackenzie says the current report shows not only has there been no improvement, rates of distress have increased by 7% to 31%.
" I thought when I did this report last time that we just needed to point out the issues and they would get fixed. Apparently that didn't work because 2 years later things are actually worse than they were 2 years ago."
Since 2015 the actual number of primary caregivers identifying as distressed increased by over 1,000, which represents a 14% increase in the actual number of caregivers in distress.
Mackenzie's report confirms caregiver distress is rising in B.C.., while supports and services are failing to keep pace with growing need.
"This report focused on the caregivers who are providing support to our home support clients. So it is about the more frail and vulnerable seniors. And we know that 91% of the caregivers are family members and 52% of them are adult children."
Mackenzie says it's a disturbing trend on its own when you consider the daily reality for all the sons, daughters, spouses, neighbours and friends dedicating hundreds of hours caring for loved ones, but adds those being cared for at home are experiencing increasing frailty and complexity of needed care. Yet vital services like adult daycare or home support assistance has dropped.
The advocate estimates there are about one million unpaid caregivers in the province whose paid value is estimated to be $3.5 billion, adding the importance of maximizing supports can't be underestimated when we consider costly alternatives such as residential care or hospital stays.
The full report can be viewed at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca