A recent study by CIBC has found that caring for aging relatives in Canada costs billions - actually $33 billion annually - between personal expenses and time off work (either in the form of unpaid leave or paid vacation). It is projected that that figure will increase significantly in the next 10 years as the number of seniors grows.
Added to this is the physical and emotional toll of caregiving that you cannot put a price tag on. So, while caregiving for a loved one can be very rewarding, one must also keep in mind the harder aspects of this very necessary and important role.
While there is no easy solution to the financial cost of care beyond government funding and devising innovative ways to care for seniors in communities (which is something that will likely take years and many dollars to figure out), there are ways to reduce the physical and mental toll caring for someone else can cause.
It is of paramount importance that caregivers take the time to 'care' for themselves. Seek out support, and assistance to allow yourself time to meet your own needs. Don't be afraid to ask for help and accept it when it is offered. It is always beneficial if there is someone you can share responsibilities and decision making with.
Communicate openly with medical personnel, family, friends and employers. Find out about any available support groups or Employee Assistance Programs you may have access to. Educate yourself about the medical aspects and available resources - both paid and unpaid, available to your loved one. Do what you can to plan ahead in light of their medical issues and projected prognosis, if possible.
Stress management is important so take some time to understand the signs of stress, how your body reacts to it and what you need to do to relieve it. Keep in mind that while you may not be able to control a situation, you can control your reaction to it and how you deal with it. Ensure a balance in your life and prioritize tasks. Be realistic and don't allow others to guilt you into taking on more than you can cope with. It really is okay to say 'no'.
It is only if you care for yourself, that you can provide care to someone else.