Although employees who simultaneously care for their children and parents (the sandwich generation) are healthier than the rest of Canada, they are concerned about the impact elder care is having on many aspects of their lives, according to the most recent health survey conducted by Desjardins Financial Security.
The majority of the 3,120 survey respondents from across the country said their physical, mental and financial health is excellent, very good or good. Within this same group, the demographic who live with children and provide daily assistance to their parents rated themselves even higher:
•92 per cent said their physical health was excellent, very good or good compared to 83.8 per cent in Canada
•94.2 per cent said their psychological health was excellent, very good or good compared to 88.7 per cent
•70.2 per cent said their personal financial security was excellent, very good or good compared to 57.2 percent overall.
"The sandwich generation seems ready to deal with the challenges of supporting both parents and children simultaneously," said Nathalie Tremblay, health products manager at Desjardins Financial Security. "But they know that this is going to affect their lives in many different ways."
The survey results indicate that people who provide daily support to their parents totally or somewhat agree that this assistance impacts:
•their mental health (67.3 per cent)
•the well-being of their family (62.4 per cent)
•their physical health (60.1 per cent)
•their professional life (58.2 per cent).
Another survey conducted by Desjardins this spring indicated 58.4 per cent of Canadians identified government-funded home care as one of the three most important resources to help them assist their parents in their daily activities.
"This is an alarming statistic," said Bart Mindszenthy, expert in elderly family caregiving. "It's my feeling that the health-care system simply can’t effectively cope with the number of people requiring care as our population ages."
This reliance on the health-care system is even more pronounced among Canadians already trying to balance the needs of children and elderly parents in the more recent health survey. While 59.1 per cent of respondents were confident their parents would have easy access to publicly funded home care in the case of a critical illness, that figure rose to 68.2 for those living with children and also providing daily support to their parents.
Only 18.9 per cent of respondents have worked with their parents to develop a plan for ongoing care. Although many of the sandwich generation clearly understand the need for a plan, 52.6 per cent of people who live with children and provide daily assistance to parents don't have one in place.
"This result is not surprising — it's a difficult conversation to have," said Tremblay. "Nonetheless, it's a reality that we do need to face, however difficult. A little planning can dramatically change the conditions in which our parents live."
Nova Scotians and New Brunswickers were most confident in publicly funded home care to meet their parents needs in the case of a critical illness; 71.4 per cent and 71.2 per cent agreed respectively, compared to 59.1 per cent overall.
Quebecers were least concerned about the impact of caring for their parents on their health and finances; only 11.5 per cent totally agreed they were concerned about the impact on their health, compared to 24.8 per cent overall, In the case of finances, 45.4 per cent totally or somewhat agreed that there would be an impact, compared to 60.9 per cent overall.
Ontarians were the most willing to make significant lifestyle changes (such as taking a leave of absence or turning down a promotion) to care for their parents; 43.4 per cent totally agreed compared to 38.6 per cent overall.
Saskatchewanians were least willing to make significant lifestyle changes (such as taking a leave of absence or turning down a promotion) to care for their parents; 26.6 per cent totally agreed compared to 38.6 per cent overall.
Manitobans would be least able to adapt to the loss of income if a leave of absence was necessary to take care of a parent; 43.5 per cent totally or somewhat agreed, compared to 55.5 per cent overall.
Albertans would be most able to adapt to the loss of income if a leave of absence was necessary to take care of a parent; 61.4 per cent totally or somewhat agreed, compared to 55.5 per cent overall.
British Columbians were most concerned about the impact on their physical health of caring for their parents; 43.6 per cent totally agreed, compared to 24.8 per cent overall.
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