Dr. Christine Grou reminds us of the fundamental role of family caregivers in society and with those in vulnerable situations. However, these people are all too often exhausted and at risk of suffering from psychological distress.
"We talk a lot about family caregivers, but we don't often address their distress. They are overloaded, often isolated and exhausted. What is striking is that when they try to take time for themselves, to take care of themselves, they frequently feel guilty.
"We must better recognize the workload and distress of caregivers. We can show recognition by providing concrete help: meals, cleaning, respite, even if it is not always easy to have extra help at home. It takes people you trust, who are able to lend a hand so that you can get out of the house and get some fresh air.
"Recognition means acknowledging that caregivers have a role to play, that they cannot do everything alone, that they need material, financial, psychological and sometimes even legal support. And it has to be easy, because they don't have the time to jump through additional hoops, because they can't be asked to fight all the battles at once. Most of the time, they are already very tired.
"To caregivers, I would give the advice to practice self-care and self-indulgence. You can't underestimate what it takes to be a caregiver. I often give the example of the oxygen mask in a plane. In case of depressurization, it is on our nose and mouth that we must first put it on, because if we pass out, we won't be able to help anyone."
- Christine Grou, psychologist
Watch our interview with Christine Grou (in French only)
Here are some resources to support you in your role as a caregiver:
- Ordre des psychologues du Québec at 514 738-1223 or toll-free at 1 800 561-1223.
- Réseau Avant de craquer (information and resources, especially for caregivers of people with mental illness) at or toll-free at 1 855 272-7837.
- Caregiver Support, a professional, confidential and free listening, information and referral service. Contact can be made by telephone at 1 855 852-7784 every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and by email.
- You can also consult our resource directory, which allows caregivers to find adapted resources in their area.