Being a caregiver can be both rewarding and challenging. Whether you care for an aging parent or adult, a child with special needs, someone who is mentally or physically ill, or work as a professional caregiver, when you support someone in need, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with your caregiving responsibilities and feel the weight of this role on your daily life.
If you are feeling anxious or exhausted from the constant strain of caring for someone in need, you may be suffering from “caregiver burnout”. Read on as we discuss what caregiver burnout is and who it can affect, as well as share some essential FREE RESOURCES in Canada that help support caregivers at every stage and every age.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged stress when caring for another person. It can happen when the demands of taking care of someone else outweigh your capacity to cope. Common signs of caregiver burnout include fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, physical illness and feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Who Does Caregiver Burnout Affect?
Caregiver burnout affects people from all backgrounds—it doesn’t discriminate based on gender, age, race or ethnicity. This being said, women are more likely than men to experience caregiver burnout because they tend to take on most of the primary caregiving duties in their family unit; however, anyone who cares for another person (whether it be a parent, grandparent, friend or other loved one) can experience caregiver burnout if they don't get the proper support they need.
In my family, we have seen this burnout affect the mental health of parents — my mother raising us while dealing with her own mental illness, me when caring for my own family as well as my parents, and my husband now supporting his aging parents who live out of town. What do each of these have in common? All of us are trying desperately to balance caring for and supporting our own children and families each day while working to provide financial support, and also assisting our aging parents on top of everyday responsibilities, while also trying to manage our own physical, emotional and mental health needs. This can feel like an uphill battle that you're walking alone. But I've found it doesn't have to be that way — you are not alone and support is near.
Free Resources in Canada To Help Support Caregivers
In Canada, there are many free resources available to help support caregivers who may be experiencing burnout or feeling overwhelmed by their caregiving responsibilities. If you're struggling with this daily or if you are soon embarking on a path to caring for someone, please check out and take advantage of these supportive tools for your own mental health.
The Care Givers Network
There are some amazing online communities such as The Care Givers Network where members can connect with others who understand the challenges faced by family caregivers and share experiences about how they cope with stress related to caring for a loved one. The Ontario Caregiver Organization specifically offers free online courses for caregivers on everything from understanding dementia and communication skills to self-care strategies. Check them out here!
As a whole, The Care Givers Network offers a 24/7 helpline, peer support for caregivers, webinars, group and individual counselling and an online learning library. They even have a Caregiver Coaching program led by professionals with hands-on caregiving experience who help you develop a Progress Plan with goal setting to best manage your current challenges.
Further to this, if you're a young caregiver (age 15-25), be sure to check out their amazing resources and toolkits to guide and support you through each stage of caregiving. They teach youth how to balance life and responsibilities, healthy ways to cope, how to manage big emotions, and connect youth to online support groups.
>> Visit ontariocaregiver.ca
>> Visit youngcaregiversconnect.ca
Alzheimer Society Canada
Additionally, local organizations such as Alzheimer Society Canada offer support groups where members can find comfort in knowing that they aren't alone in dealing with their unique situation and learn from others who have similar experiences. They offer some excellent resources to help you understand what dementia is and how to support and care for a loved one with this illness. There are also resources for those providing end-of-life care that may be helpful.
>> Visit alzheimer.ca
Professional counselling services such as those provided by HealthLink BC provide access to trained therapists who can offer guidance on how to best manage the stress associated with being a caregiver — without compromising your own mental health needs. From everyday bathing and grooming tips to home safety essentials and coping techniques, you'll find a variety of incredible articles on their website for all caregiver types.
>> Visit healthlinkbc.ca
The Family Care Office
For staff, students and alumni of the University of Toronto, The Family Care Office is an online tool supporting the U of T community which provides information on financial assistance programs, respite care services, home care services, senior housing options, and other helpful resources for caregivers across Canada.
>> Visit familycare.utoronto.ca
Wendat Community Programs
For those local to the Midland/Penetanguishene area in Ontario, Wendat Community Programs offers referral-based day programs, assisted living services and social dining services for the elderly. These localized service offerings range from helping with day-to-day living, managing chronic illness and disease, providing transportation services to appointments, assisting with social stimulation and more. Referrals can be made by the elderly person needing support, a family member, a friend, a caregiver, a physician or another health care professional. If you're in the area, Wendat provides great resources and services for seniors and adult mental health.
>> Visit wendatprograms.com
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
The Canadian Mental Health Association has lots of useful information about how to cope with stress as a caregiver and how to improve your home and workplace mental health.
With an array of online mental health courses, resources and toolkits to support mental wellness, and national and local community programs like their free BounceBack program and Peer Support Canada, the CMHA is a great resource tool for anyone looking to improve their mental health. For caregivers, they also offer online and in-person Caregiver Connections courses that are designed as a supportive space to help enhance caregivers' mental health. Check out their site and find a local CMHA near you here.
>> Visit cmha.ca
>> Visit CMHA Simcoe County
End the Stigma
Caring for someone else can be an incredibly rewarding experience but it can also be overwhelming at times—especially if you don't have the right kind of support. If you're experiencing any signs of caregiver burnout such as anxiety, exhaustion or overwhelm then it's important that you take action now before things escalate.
Especially as a caregiver, taking time out for yourself is essential in order to stay healthy and provide quality care for your loved ones. Be sure to always put your oxygen mask on first, otherwise, you won't be able to take care of anyone else. Fortunately, there are plenty of free resources available in Canada that can help support caregivers so don't hesitate to reach out and get the help that you need today!
Sending love your way,
Founder, Marnie & Michael
For more great mental health resources, visit the RESOURCES page on our website and find the support you need most.
To learn more about MARNIE & MICHAEL's mental health initiative and why we're so passionate about mental health, visit our website today.