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Universal Access to Healthcare: Tackling the Unique Callenges of Canadians with Disabilities as Seniors Population Rises

Women Carry A Lot On Their Caring Shoulders

Informal caregivers are responsible for a great deal; it can be hard to comprehend the scope of caring for an elderly parent, sibling or friend. Being an informal caregiver requires devotion and involves a great deal of sacrifice and stress. More often than not, the brunt of that responsibility, sacrifice and stress falls to women.

An infographic from The Vanier Institute of the Family released in March of 2017 shows that women aged forty-five years and older spent an average of almost six years of their lives providing care,compared to the three and a half years reported by men. 30% of women reported having to miss at least one day of work to provide care, 6.4% said they retired early, quit or lost their jobs and 4.7% said they turned down a promotion –all related to the responsibilities of being an informal caregiver.

The same infographic reports that half of women who have access to flexible work arrangements feel they cannot take advantage of these options without it having a negative impact on their careers.

Estimates of wages lost by women between 2003-2008 are around $221 million, due to being absent, reducing their hours or leaving work entirely.

In addition to caring for their own family, daughters-in-law are also more likely to be looking after their husband’s parents.

A Global News article highlights the advice of California-based elder law attorney Carolyn Rosenblatt, for ways that women’s loads can be lightened by their male siblings and spouses. She insists that a positive first step ought to come from men, by way of an offer from them to share care giving responsibilities.

Male siblings need to share the load of care giving. Rosenblatt says, “[Women] need to educate their siblings about the personal financial impact on them of doing the caregiver job.  It’s not free when you’re losing money doing it.” She also suggests that women be specific when talking to siblings and partners about how care giving tasks should be divided.

Taking care of seniors is a huge responsibility. It can be stressful and demoralizing, especially if caregivers feel like they have no support. It is also a huge time commitment; when you combine the majority of women taking on the brunt of care giving with maternity leaves and childcare responsibilities, it is no wonder that women are weary of any possibility of negative effects to their career –they already face more disadvantage than their male counterparts.

In 2016, Canada’s seniors outnumbered the country’s children. With statistics like this becoming even more common as the baby boomer generation ages, it is now more important than ever to acknowledge the weight women have been carrying in order to care for loved ones–they deserve to be able to share the load.

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