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Aging population puts stress on caregivers

By Mark Hodgins [1]

BELLEVILLE – A new report by the Mental Health Commission of Canada [2] has found that caregivers of those with long-term health problems are under more stress than ever before.

Considering the nation’s population is only getting older, according to statistics from Employment and Social Development Canada [3], that’s worrying news.  The number of Canadians 65 and older is drastically increasing, so much so that in 50 years a quarter of the population will be senior citizens, the federal agency reports.

The national census in 2011 found that in Belleville, 18.1 per cent of the population was aged 65 and over.  That’s a fair amount above the national average, which sits at 14.8 per cent.

From the Mental Health Commission’s report: “Very high levels of stress are reported by 16.5 per cent of the population in family caregiving roles. Canada’s aging population means higher projected numbers of people with dementia and other chronic illnesses. This may result in an increase in the number of family caregivers and consequently, a rise in those subject to excessive stress.”
The Alzheimer Society of Belleville-Hastings-Quinte has, on its website [4], a page of statistics [5] that look at the number of people living with dementia in Hastings County and the Brighton-Quinte West area.  It found that one in 11 people over the age of 65 is living with dementia.

“The Alzheimer Society nationally has done research on caregivers all over the place,” Laura Hare, executive director of the local Alzheimer Society, told QNet News. “Those caring for someone with dementia have something like a 50-per-cent higher stress level than someone who is not caring for someone with dementia.”

The society, along with organizations like the Victorian Order of Nurses [6], provide respite care for families with members suffering from dementia and other chronic illnesses.