Canadians unprepared to take on caregiver role for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's

New survey released on World Alzheimer's Day shows majority of Canadians unprepared for caregiving role

TORONTO, Sept. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - Although Canadians are aware that the incidence of Alzheimer's is expected to double in the next 15 years1, a vast majority of them have not prepared a homecare contingency plan in the event that they or a loved one is diagnosed with the disease, which  currently affects more than half a million in Canada.

To mark World Alzheimer's Day (September 21) and the launch of its new Caregiver Series Guide on Alzheimer's and Dementia, We Care Home Health Services commissioned a survey to determine Canadians' levels of awareness surrounding Alzheimer's and dementia as well as their preparedness to take on a caregiver role. The survey also compared knowledge amongst Canadians currently acting as a caregiver for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's to those that are not.

According to the survey, the vast majority (79 per cent) of non-caregivers do not have homecare contingency plans in place for themselves or a loved one in the event of an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis. In contrast those already acting in a caregiver capacity for a loved one suffering from the disease were more likely to have a plan with more than half (55 per cent) of current caregivers indicating they have made plans. When asked if they were aware that the number of Canadians living with Alzheimer's is expected to more than double in the next 15 years, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of caregivers responded "yes" while the number dropped to about half (52 per cent) among non-caregivers.

"What this survey is telling us is that although Canadians are aware that the number of Alzheimer's cases is set to double, they are not proactively preparing themselves or their loved ones," says Linda Lane, Vice President of Clinical Practice for We Care Home Health Services. "On World Alzheimer's Day, we wanted to share these figures and launch our new guide in the hopes that more Canadians will put a plan in place before they find themselves in the caregiver role."

While Lane stresses the need for all aging Canadians to consider developing a homecare contingency plan, she also points out that in the case of Alzheimer's or dementia, the need is especially real for women. Currently almost three quarters (72 per cent) of Canadians with Alzheimer's are women - a statistic that the survey revealed was unknown by 57 per cent of caregivers and 77 per cent of non-caregivers.

While the role of a caregiver can be a rewarding experience, it can also be physically, emotionally and financially challenging. When current caregivers were asked what their biggest fear was when they realized their loved one was showing initial symptoms of Alzheimer's, 25 per cent feared feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, and 21 per cent feared being physically unable to care for their loved one on their own.

"Obviously the initial diagnosis can be devastating. Our guide is meant to help caregivers so they are not overwhelmed - especially in the early stages of the disease when many opt to keep their loved ones in a familiar home environment," says Lane.

The We Care Caregiver Series Guide on Alzheimer's and Dementia is a resource for Canadians that may be new to the role of caregiver or simply looking for additional information on how to manage these conditions. Along with explaining Alzheimer's and dementia and the importance of receiving an early diagnosis, the guide also offers tips for caregivers including coping strategies, communication techniques and advice on how to reduce stress while managing a loved one's care.

For more information, or to get a free copy of We Care's Caregiver Series Guide on Alzheimer's and Dementia, please call 1-855-699-3227 or visit www.wecare.ca.

About the survey

The survey was completed online between September 13th and September 18th, 2012 with a sample of 793 Canadians using the LegerWeb panel, 250 of whom are currently a caregiver for a person suffering from Alzheimer's. The margin of error for a representative sample of 250 caregivers is considered accurate within ± 6.2%, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error for a representative sample 543 non-caregivers is considered accurate within ± 4.2%, 19 times out of 20.

  1. Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society. (2010). Alzheimer Society of Canada

About We Care
We Care Home Health Services, a leading national provider of in-home care and support services with over 50 locations across Canada, provides professional and compassionate care that allows seniors and others to live independently in the comfort of their own homes.  We Care employs over 4,000 homecare staff and provides care in over 800 communities across Canada, and has received accreditation through Accreditation Canada within all the regions in which it operates in.  For more information, call 1-855-699-3227 or visit www.wecare.ca.

SOURCE: We Care Home Health Services

For further information:

Denise Gagnon / Alex Thomas
APEX Public Relations
(416) 934-2102 / 416-934-2101
dgagnon@apexpr.comathomas@apexpr.com

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We Care Home Health Services

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