As a caregiver, you may feel like you are scrambling to identify your role and the evolving needs of the situation. It is essential to recognize you are not alone and in fact, part of a massive community.
“Unpaid caregivers save the Canadian Health Care System an estimated $66 billion each year”
Given that the elder Baby Boomers are entering the stage of life which will require the most care, the need for unpaid caregivers will grow with each year.
What is an unpaid caregiver? “Our definition of a caregiver is anyone who is providing unpaid support to a family member, friend or neighbour,” Jenny Theriault, Executive Director of Caregivers Nova Scotia. Theriault elaborates, “Getting someone groceries once a week, taking them shopping, taking them to medical appointments… all the way to daily support such as personal care, and many other tasks.”
While it is clear the definition and subsequent role is both expansive and fluid, at what point should you as a caregiver seek support? Caregivers Nova Scotia encourages all caregivers to reach out at any stage, as explained by Theriault, “A lot of times, caregivers come to us when they are already in crisis and we wish we could help them before they got to that point.”
Support and resources are available for all caregiving situations, including yours. Caregivers Nova Scotia offers information on government programs such as Continuing Care, the Caregiver Benefit Program and other services like mobile Foot Care. Theriault accurately points out, “There's so much to the health care system that you don't know what you don't know.”
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
A vital aspect of caregiving is understanding you are not alone as many Nova Scotians are walking a similar path. In response to that, Caregivers Nova Scotia offer monthly (virtual and in person) peer support groups in each region which are facilitated by a Caregiver Support Coordinator. As well, educational workshops including Caregiver Stress Management Workshop, Advanced Planning for Caregivers and more.
And it is all FREE. At no point, will you be asked to pay as Caregivers Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization.
YOU HAVE AN ADVOCATE
Your role as a caregiver is important and if you need an advocate, you have that in Caregivers Nova Scotia. Theriault explains, “We can also provide advocacy support. So, let's say they are in a situation where they are not getting the support they need. We can help advocate on their behalf if there's something they are not receiving. There are many programs available. Each program has different eligibility criteria. We can help answer those questions.”
THE FIRST STEP: REACH OUT AS EARLY AS YOU CAN
Caregivers Nova Scotia encourages reaching out by phone which will be answered by a compassionate, informed team member who will immediately offer guidance and direction. As well, you can visit their online platform.
“I am really proud of our website!” Theriault enthuses and rightfully so! CaregiversNS.org is an easy to navigate site, full of information and resources. For example, free to download is ‘Where to Begin” a compassionate guide that helps the caregiver assess their current needs. The website effectively offers details on the various methods of support through phone, email and CTC (Caregiver Tele-Connect). By the time a caregiver reaches the website, they may feel overwhelmed and in anticipation of that, CaregiversNS.org features a series of thoughtful, comprehensive and illuminating YouTube videos.
There is no need for you to feel alone and overwhelmed. Caregivers Nova Scotia is eager to help! Call 1-877-488-7390 and visit CaregiversNS.org.