Value of family caregivers, need for more support, recognized

According to thehealthline.ca, over three million Ontarians support a relative with a health condition. Today those family caregivers like Louise Milligan are being acknowledged.

“Caring for someone is emotionally draining, and physically taxing,” says Milligan. “Some people even take a financial hit by giving up day jobs or doing reduced hours, so today It’s important to recognize all the unpaid work that people do.”

For many of them, they don’t know where to turn for advice, services or support. That’s where Paul Cavanagh and his website caregiverexchange.ca comes in.

“It's a place where people can go to find information and support for the people they are looking after, or for themselves,” says Cavanagh. “After a while that can take a toll, so it’s important to recognize there are resources there to support you.”

Launched 11 years ago in southwestern Ontario, the site helps people navigate the physical and emotional hurdles of being a caregiver.

Cavanagh says a lot of people don’t understand the resources that are available to them.

“What we do in talking with experienced caregivers, we dig deeper. We find out some of the things that really work for them, and write fresh short articles which can be a valuable resource.”

Milligan was caring for her husband with dementia, and also had two young children at the time.

She realized with a full-time job, she just couldn’t do it alone. She overcame the stigma attached to seeking help, and reached out.

“Many people I talk to feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but I believe it’s actually as sign of strength. Its okay to say you can't do it yourself.”