By Susan Wild, Clinical Coordinator, Seniors Mental Health Service
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects approximately 747,000 Canadians, mostly seniors. For Alzheimer’s Awareness month, Susan Wild, Clinical Coordinator with Senior’s Mental Health, is shining some much-deserved light on the caregivers of seniors with dementia.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, family caregivers have been extremely hard-hit with choosing between isolation (safety from the pandemic) and supports, both in the home and in congregate living settings. Managing the isolation and the tremendous grief of losing their loved one experiencing the disease can be devastating.
Unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia put in more hours and experience higher levels of distress than those providing care for other seniors. “Informal caregivers … sacrifice their own time, finances and health in order to care for a loved one with dementia,” says the National Strategy for Dementia-Friendly Communities. “Caregivers shoulder a tremendous responsibility as they strive to provide the attention and care that is necessary.”
Here are a few facts about dementia caregivers, gathered pre-COVID-19 (CIHI, Home Care Reporting System, 2015–2016, Canadian Institute for Health Information).
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If you know a caregiver of someone with dementia, consider reaching out and providing support where you can. Here is a link to the Alzheimer Society’s page providing specific ideas around caregiving support during the pandemic.
Contact the West Park Healthcare Centre Seniors Mental Health Service for additional resources for older adults.