1. I am a caregiver if the care receiver is a member of my family
Being a caregiver is above all about having a caring relationship with the care receiver, which means that we respond to their need: a neighbour, friend, former life partner. And care receivers are not just seniors.
Providing support to a loved one very often appears as commonplace. However, the notions of duty and obligation can also push caregivers – especially family members - to get involved. However, it is not necessarily clear or natural to accept this responsibility. Different reasons may lead you to accept or not accept this role. Know that you have no obligation. The most important thing is for you to make your decision based on your resources, your skills, and also your wishes.
2. I am a caregiver only if I live with my loved one
You don’t have to live with your loved one to be a caregiver. Through your actions, you can help them continue to live in their home. And if your loved one lives in a CHSLD, for example, your role as a caregiver may translate into accompanying them to medical appointments or helping them complete legal documents.
3. I am a caregiver only if I provide more than five hours a week of support to my loved one for major care
You are a caregiver from the moment you provide help to a loved one, whether casually or regularly. The scope of the help is not part of the definition of your role either. Whether you support them by doing household chores, helping them with personal care or managing their finances, the help you provide to them has the same value.
4. I am a caregiver if I have medical knowledge
Your presence, your support, your listening, your availability as needed, these are the things you need to help your loved one understand and live better with their situation. If specific care must be provided to them, training is available to help you. For situations requiring serious medical care, professionals in this field are there for you.
5. Caregivers are mostly people 65 years and over
Did you know that55% of caregivers are between 45 and 64 years old? However, young caregivers, between 15 and 29 years old, are increasingly common. There are reportedly 1.2 million in Canada, a figure highlighted during the First Symposium on Young Carers held on March 22, 2019.
6. A loved one can only be supported by one caregiver
As the primary caregiver, you support your loved one most of the time. Do you feel alone when you provide care? Very often, caregivers have difficulty asking for and accepting help. In other cases, the diagnosis of the care receiver happens so quickly that you don’t have time to think about whether you are the only person willing and able. It is important to talk about your situation to your family and friends, so they know how to help you. These people who want to and can help you then become secondary caregivers. They support you in your actions with the care receiver and provide you with psychological and emotional support. Far from being a common situation, the presence of secondary caregivers is ideal, especially to provide some respite to the primary caregiver.
7. I am no longer a caregiver if my loved one has died
If you have had to face the death of a loved one to whom you provided care, you know that this period is especially difficult. Not only are you grieving your loved one, but also your role as a caregiver. And while this event marks the end of your daily or regular care, other steps may require your involvement and prolong your caregiver journey. Making funeral arrangements, resolving estate details, and planning your return to work may all be difficult to manage. Beyond these processes, it is important for you to be accompanied in the transition between your role as a caregiver and your life after caregiving. During this stage that we call post-caregiving, grief support resources are available. In fact, the 1-888-LE-DEUIL (1-888-533-3845) help line is available throughout Quebec. Some regional organizations may also be able to provide grief support groups or individual grief support to support you and guide you in this transition.
8. I am a caregiver, if I have a legal document that states that I am
You don’t need any legal documentation to support your loved one. Regarding your caregiver status, some of the current measures in place – such as tax credits – partially recognize the responsibilities you shoulder in this role. The Government of Quebec’s first Politique nationale pour les proches aidants [national policy for caregivers], which will help consolidate the recognition of caregivers, is currently being drafted. It will be followed by an action plan proposing tangible measures to meet their needs.
9. I am a caregiver only if the care receiver has cognitive impairments
In your role, you support your loved one experiencing loss of autonomy. While neurodegenerative diseases are the most well-known causes of loss of autonomy, accidents, fractures and CVAs can also make the care receiver more fragile and vulnerable.
10. It is useless to ask for help, because there are no resources for caregivers
Resources exist, but 65% of caregivers don’t know where to find them. Lack of time or proximity of services may also be major barriers to accessing resources. In order to benefit from support, it is important that you recognize yourself as a caregiver. Identifying your role and challenges and asking for help will provide you with easier access the resources you are entitled to use.