Color & Control:

The perfect family storm

Being forced to choose between being a “good” parent or a “good” son or daughter is not what any of us would like to find ourselves doing. Yet, according to recent research, 62% of family caregivers are now finding themselves in that uncomfortable situation. Both their kids and their parents need them to provide some form of assistance… At the same time! 

It’s understandable when you consider demographics. Those in their forties and early fifties are often walking a tightrope between parents and grandparents who are living longer and the children and teens they are still raising. Other surfacing telltale signs include:

1. A string of reports that employers and policy makers are seeing negative impacts on both workforce retention and productivity as the mounting pressure of eldercare and childcare with disabilities on young and mid-career families and…

2. The rise in Canada’s national dependency ratio (the number of dependents aged 0-14 and over 65 years) which has hit a 20-year high. Add in the additional struggles, delays and losses the pandemic years have caused many Canadians and it seems like many still find themselves in the midst of an ever-challenging family storm.

Every week I hear of a new survey or a new support group or new self-help recommendations. We all know the drill but there’s got to be more we can do than share the same old info. The latest tells me the majority of caregivers surveyed (59%) in the mid-life group, that’s been coined the ‘panini generation’, told researchers that they really don’t know where to turn for support when their ‘caring challenges’ begin. Plus, surprise surprise, their personal and career related costs are quite staggering. Nothing new. Let’s take a look:

• Nearly half (45%) of panini caregivers who responded have cut expenses or shifted budgets in order to meet their new caregiving responsibilities.   

• Almost 25% of them have been forced to quit a job that made it too hard to be a caregiver.  

• Roughly half of those who work say their employer has warned them that their caregiving responsibilities are jeopardizing their performance; risking their job security or limiting their opportunity for promotion or special assignments.

Non-working caregivers who were surveyed tell of similar financial stories. The majority claim they’ve actually left the workforce (60%), declined job offers (59%) and almost 60% reported that their quality of their life has suffered given their time spent being a good caregiver.  

As expected, the report calls for better resources to help caregivers and of course, better employee support programs and, same old same old time off for caregivers to rest and time off for caregivers to rest and replenish themselves.

Our families need us. Less talk, renewed funding and more reliable, personalized services are needed from both the public and private sector to quell the storm. It’s time “we”, myself included, stopped confirming what we already know, and challenge
our best and brightest minds into finding better, safer and more reliable ways that truly make a difference.

This can’t continue.

Caroline Tapp-McDougall

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