Our caregiving roles in a longevity society have increasingly become a central part in people’s lives over recent years; the subject most often discussed within the context of an advancing aging population, in research reports and family conversations. However, we also know that this is not exclusively the case, as people are caregiving for others at every age, under various conditions – and, a caregiver may have a child as well as an elder parent simultaneously in need of care.
Staying within the framework of an aging population, my thoughts this last week returned to one of my first blog posts from January this year – Caregiving as a Core Community Investment, as prompted by a news release from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) on May 22, 2018. Within this well constructed, easy to digest, Report on Health and Aging in Canada, there is a concise chapter titled Caregiving and Care Receiving.
While it should be noted that the statistics and responses throughout this 200-plus page report are from the CLSA baseline data collection between 2010 and 2015, the information is a snapshot in time that is still relatively valid enough for now, three years later. As it happens in fact, some of the contributors to this report will be presenting at the International Federation on Ageing (IFA): 14th Global Conference in Toronto, August 8 -10, 2018.
The IFA workshop, which I hope to attend, features this new report, titled A Platform Study to Support Policy Decisions and Initiatives and two of the presenters are Verena Menec, University of Manitoba, and Lauren Griffith, McMaster University, both working with the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Looking at the title, this leaves me with the question – how will this study on health and aging support or inform policy decisions any differently than other studies?
Not to forget – other advocacy roles in a caregiving agenda
Part of this larger narrative, the caregiving agenda, as I will express it here, is one that deserves more discussion as a social issue because, as one of the CLSA statistics states, “the prevalence of caregiving is highest among participants aged 55-64 (48.5%)”. If that is a now reality, then we should look at the next decade and figure that when you add in those currently 45-54, that percentage will likely be higher. In fact, the percentage is already very close in that age band.
Yet you have to consider this together with all the other sociodemographic characteristics that the report covers, including the stat that shows around 34% of caregivers are still working. This typically adds to the stress of a caregiver role. And as the closing sentence in the discussion paragraph in this Caregiving and Care Receiving section presents, with all that we currently know (even anecdotally), we need to “examine how caregiving and care receiving changes over time”.
Perhaps because it was out of the scope of this research, some notable aspects of caregiving did not get a mention in the CLSA questions. This would include items such as the amount of time a caregiver might also be spending on activities such as helping with banking and other financial planning and administration affairs, and other advocacy roles on behalf of those they care for, such as managing relationships with government services agencies.
To flesh out the caregiving agenda a little more, there is also an IFA conference symposium titled Innovations on Caregiving, featuring Kari Henley and Judy Rough, (who organized the virtual Caregiving Global Summit that I attended in January), Sandra Timmermann and from Canada, Dr. Amy D’Aprix. Innovations in caregiving will be explored, including building caregiving education and community through the power of the internet, preserving financial well-being and managing the emotional and family dynamics of caring.