As part of National Caregiver Week, we would like to highlight the reality of the women we support through our services.
Self-identifying as a Caregiver — The First Step
Currently one caregiver out of three who regularly provides care to another person, does not identify as a caregiver. At the YWCA Montreal, we offer a variety of support services and help caregivers recognize their role because it is the first step to seeking help. Caregiving brings it’s share of challenges and responsibilities and our program aims to help caregivers find a healthy life balance.
Many people do not know the meaning of this word. Everyone who cares for a sibling, parent, spouse or child is a caregiver, including me. I didn’t know this until one day I was mentally and physically exhausted and a social worker I knew told me about the YWCA. Tired and curious, I contacted this organization. – Pauline
Are You a Caregiver?
Do you take time every week, without pay, to help someone close to you by doing tasks such as:
- ensuring their comfort and well-being;
- doing household chores or grocery shopping;
- providing hygienic or medical care;
- organizing or taking them to appointments;
- helping with legal and financial matters;
- assisting with communication (translation/interpretation);
- defending their interests within the health and social services system
…if so, you are caregiver!
Caregiving: a Matter of Gender
The weight of caregiving is not distributed equally among men and women. Women represent 58% of caregivers and more women balance caregiving with their paying jobs.
In the working world, about one third of employed women also shoulder the responsibility for caregiving, as compared to 20% of employed men. In addition, as the time devoted to caregiving increases, the higher the proportion of women caregivers.
The type of help provided is also influenced by the traditional divisions of labour between women and men. Women are more likely to provide help in the form of personal care, whereas men tend to help more with home maintenance and repairs.
When my husband got sick, I had to reduce the number of hours I worked to go to his medical appointments, all while taking care of my mother and my children, and our revenue dropped sharply. – Nicole
The Impact of Caregiving on Women’s Lives
Providing help to a person who is losing their autonomy can have numerous consequences on caregivers: stress, exhaustion, deterioration of physical health, social isolation, anxiety, depression, abuse, insecurity, employment insecurity (less hours worked, unexpected absences, etc.), homelessness, etc.
More women balance caregiving with their private and professional lives, so more women tend to be impacted by the responsibilities required, which can be extremely demanding logistically, physically and emotionally.
The feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion and anxiety felt by many caregivers are also often compounded by sadness, worry and anger. Similarly, feelings of guilt may often arise due to their inability to do everything in a way that meets everyone’s expectations.
Don’t wait until you’re frustrated, angry or desperate like me before asking for help. Find supportive resources like those at the YWCA. – Pauline
Caregiving: a Meaningful Experience
Helping a partner, elder, relative or friend in need fosters dignity, enhances quality of life and provides solace. When caregivers’ limits are respected, the caregiving role can be a rewarding experience, giving one a sense of purpose and accomplishment. A healthy and respectful caregiving relationship can be mutually uplifting and fulfilling.
As difficult as it may be at times, I DO get a sense of purpose in knowing that I AM here for my Dad. He helped me tremendously in the past when I was having a very hard time with my own psychological problems and now I can at least give a little back. – Barbara
Helping Caregivers Improve their Quality of Life
Whether driven by love, loyalty or a sense of duty, the caregiving experience can be complex and difficult, giving rise to contradictory feelings. And if the relationship is unhealthy, it may be even more difficult for caregivers to cope. Such a demanding and complex role deserves and requires support.
L’APPUI National makes it it’s mission to recognize caregivers’ contributions and ensures that much-needed help is available across Quebec. The organization funds projects that promote capacity building and quality of life. It also conveys a message of appreciation for caregivers especially during the National Week of Caregivers, with its slogan: “You Care for Them , We Care for You! “
At the YWCA, our caregivers’ support services are designed to promote awareness, well-being, and mindfulness of one’s needs, health, and relationships.
I am now more calm and assured when responding to my husband’s needs versus demands. Setting limits is quite new to me! I am less anxious and fearful of “what’s next” and my husband has also been calmer. – M.M.
Services Adapted to the Needs of Caregivers
Our team of counsellors provides personalized support to caregivers looking to find a better life balance.
Our services include individual and group support, well-being activities, as well as workshops and conferences, all of which aim to improve caregivers‘ quality of life, prevent burnout and increase agency.
We want caregivers to know that they can reach out and that they are not alone.
The support group allowed me to share without restraint what my mother’s grief was making me feel. I felt lighter after the support group sessions. – Annie-Claude
The individual support was very valuable. I needed someone to talk to and it made me feel that I was getting stronger. – Sophie
The self-compassion workshop made me realize that at some point, taking care of someone makes you forget who you are. Services like the YWCA activities offer a break and allow you to stay connected to yourself. – Sylvie
Contact Us !
For more information on our activities and our conferences:
Source : Conseil du statut de la femme, sur La proche aidance au Québec (gouv.qc.ca) – Infographie des proches aidants d’aînés du site de l’APPUI national sur Qui sont les proches aidants? (lappui.org) – Politique nationale pour les personnes proches aidantes du Gouvernement du Québec sur Politique nationale pour les personnes proches aidantes – Reconnaître et soutenir dans le respect des volontés et des capacités d’engagement (gouv.qc.ca)