What is a Caregiver and How is Their Health Impacted?

What is a Caregiver and How is Their Health Impacted?

Caregivers may include family members and other people who provide support to a person in need. It is estimated in 2021, over 3.3 million residents of Ontario provide some level of care to a family member or friend with a chronic mental or physical illness or disability.  

Based on a Statistics Canada report - Caregivers in Canada:
•    About 70% of caregivers said they received some kind of support or assistance for their caregiving duties.

•    The most common source of social support was when the caregiver's spouse or partner modified their life or work arrangements to help (45%). Many caregivers were also helped with their caregiving duties by their children (43%) or by extended family members (39%).

•    Almost half of all caregivers (47%) reported caring primarily for their parents or parents-in-law. Caring for parents was the most common form of caregiving reported in Canada, and was particularly common among caregivers aged 45 to 64 (61%).

•    Those who provided care to their parents or parents-in-law typically spent four hours a week on caregiving responsibilities. For this category of caregivers, the most common type of help given was transportation (such as to run errands, shop or attend medical appointments), reported by 84% of caregivers. This was followed by meal preparation and house cleaning, reported by 64% of caregivers.

•    About 13% of caregivers reported that they provided care to their spouse or partner. These caregivers were more likely to be older than those who cared for a parent or parent-in-law, and spent about 14 hours a week on caregiving activities.

Some people getting care may require assistance with basic needs, while others with more prominent complications may involve continuous care and supervision in their activities of daily living. Care needs can also change over time.
Long-term caregiving may cause you chronic stress or other symptoms of stress if it is not addressed.  More than half of caregivers between the ages of 45 years old to 65 years old will have to juggle work and caregiving responsibilities to a loved one and this may result in disruptions at their work.

There are many caregivers who are at high risk to have their own mental and physical health impacted negatively, especially those who are older, lower socioeconomic status or who have limited social networks.

The key message from a report (Family Carers and COVID-19: A Rapid Integrated Mixed Methods Systematic Review) is:

The mental health and wellbeing of family caregivers during COVID-19 is a worldwide concern. There is a growing number of family caregivers in Canada who provide critical support to children, spouses, friends, and elders/parents. However, only 11% of the published/unpublished literature is from Canada. A recent report (May 2020) from The Ontario Caregiver Organization indicates caregivers under 65 years of age are coping worse mentally and emotionally. Our review also suggests women are more likely to have poor mental health outcomes, which increase after 4 weeks of isolation. The economic implications of a distressed middle-aged workforce balancing unpaid care with paid work may be devastating.

We can expect that there will be an entirely new group of caregivers emerging as a consequence of COVID-19 and as a result it will be much harder for respite. Caregivers are more in need of a break during this pandemic, but will have a more difficult time getting a break due to cancelled day programs and school and summer children’s program closures.


Most importantly, ask for and accept help from family, friends or homecare services. It can reduce your stress and it is important to share responsibilities when other people are involved in caregiving. 

It is essential to take time away from your caregiving responsibilities to defend against chronic stress and burnout and balance and improve your own physical and mental health. 


Our services to clients range from professional nursing care to personal care that include the activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, mouth care, hair care, preventive skin care, routine hand or foot care, getting in and out of chairs, vehicles or beds, dressing and undressing, preparing meals, feeding, toileting, making appointments. 

We are committed to provide our dedicated front-line staff with ongoing training to better support clients with care services 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we provide services in over 70 languages.  NHI will customize a care plan for your individual needs or that of your loved one. 

NHI Nursing & Homemakers Inc. is a Canadian owned corporation operating since 1985. We provide cost effective nursing & support services to clients in the Greater Toronto Area business proving excellent health care to client in the GTA.  NHI is accredited by Accreditation Canada, a member of the Ontario Home Care Association, the Canadian Homecare Association and the Better Business Bureau. We are also an 11 time winner of the Canadian Consumer’s Choice Award for Business Excellence in Nurses Services including 2021.  

NHI ensures that controls are in place to eliminate or minimize risk and to control the exposure to COVID-19 on the provision and use of PPE’s, including respiratory protection to ensure that our staff and our clients are kept safe.

Talk to one of our healthcare coordinators by calling 416-754-0700, email - staffing@nhihealthcare.com or visit our website at www.nhihealthcare.com for more information. 

Statistics Canada:
 The Canadian Mental Health Association:
The Canadian Home Care Association: