Carer Stress Not Responsible for Long Term Care Moves

Despite the fact that being a caregiver for elderly family or friends can cause stress and even impact one’s own health and quality of life, it is not usually the deciding factor for moving a senior into long-term care. While many believe that when the burden of care giving becomes overwhelming, elderly recipients of home care are often moved to a care facility, new research is proving this theory to be incorrect.

A recent study, published in the journal PLoS One, found that carer stress is not a predictor of a move from home care into institutional care. Care giving does take a toll on the provider of care; there is often a chronic lack of time for self-care as well as physical and emotional stress involved with providing care for an older adult.

But contrary to popular belief, caregiver burnout is less likely to precipitate a move to long-term care than other factors including severe functional or cognitive impairment, multiple chronic conditions, dementia and hospitalization.

According to a 2012 Statistic Canada study, more than 8 million Canadians over the age of 15 provide care to a family member of friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging needs. Elderly or infirm parents were the most common recipients of care and a quarter of this group’s caregivers were sandwiched between caring for aging parents while raising children.

The study does not seek to minimize the very real problem of caregiver stress or it’s serious impact on the health of family and friends providing informal or family care to the elderly. They are an invaluable component of caring for an aging population in an already overloaded health care system and deserve continued efforts to provide resources to support their work.

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