Caregiver Burnout and the Innovations Set to Make a Difference

As the Population Ages, Costs Increase

Today, the proportion of the Canadian population over 65 is approximately 17 percent. In 10 years, that proportion is expected to inflate to 22 percent, meaning that 1 in 5 Canadians will be an older adult. In short: the Canadian population is getting older.

Moreover, as the population ages, the incidences of Alzheimer’s disease are also expected to increase. As highlighted in the article we posted last week, cases of Alzheimer’s disease are growing. By 2028 – 10 years from today – it is anticipated that approximately 863,000 Canadians will be living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. This represents a 40 percent increase!

By 2028, the annual estimated direct costs of all forms of dementia are expected to be over $15 billion. What’s more, the cost to the caregiver – those out of pocket costs absorbed by caregivers treating those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – will exceed $2 billion. Regrettably, financial pressure is only one of the challenges caregivers face, another one is caregiver burnout.

Caregiver Burnout: Identifying the Warning Signs

Courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada below is a list of indicators that can help to identify the warning signs of caregiver burnout.

  1. Denial:about the disease and its effect on the person with the disease
  2. Anger:at the person with Alzheimer’s disease, yourself and others
  3. Withdrawing socially:you no longer want to stay in touch with friends or participate in activities you once enjoyed
  4. Anxiety:about facing another day and what the future holds
  5. Depression:you feel sad and hopeless much of the time
  6. Exhaustion:you barely have the energy to complete your daily tasks
  7. Sleeplessness:you wake up in the middle of the night or have nightmares and stressful dreams
  8. Emotional reactions:you cry at minor upsets; you are often irritable
  9. Lack of concentration:you have trouble focusing and you find it difficult to complete complex tasks
  10. Health problems:you may lose or gain weight, get sick more often (colds, flu), or develop chronic health problems (backaches, high blood pressure)

Understanding the warning signs is one step, but learning how to best manage caregiver burnout is also critical. Thanks to CABHI funding programs, a number of projects are progressing through validation studies so they can become available to the public and help support those caregivers who need it most.

CABHI Funded Innovations That Offer Support to Caregivers

Mindfulness Interventions for Caregivers of Patients with Alzheimer’s

In Peterborough, Ontario, Deana Huntsbargar and the team at the Kawartha Regional Memory Clinic are using the financial support from CABHI’s Spark program to validate a practice that uses mindfulness-based strategies designed specifically for caregivers of individuals with dementia. This project piloted three 8-week in-clinic sessions of mindfulness training techniques to caregivers of patients at Kawartha Regional Memory Clinic to evaluate the impact of stress, anxiety, and burden.

Rural Support for Care Partners for People with Dementia

Hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society of London and Middlesex, and led by Paul Yost, this project received funding through CABHI’s Spark program and is set to complete its 12-month project at the end of January 2018. This rural support project identified that a major barrier to attending a support group for caregivers is arranging care for their partner with dementia. The Alzheimer Society of London and Middlesex (ASLM) aims to address this problem by partnering with rural community agencies to provide a support group for caregivers while also offering a concurrent social recreation program for the person with dementia. ASLM has been working with each agency to plan concurrent sessions, and train volunteers to deliver programming for persons with dementia.

Play Intervention for Dementia: A Caregiver’s Resource

After receiving financial support through CABHI’s Spark Program, William Leung and the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto further developed Play Intervention for Dementia (PID), an intervention tool that demonstrates positive engagement, synchronization, and stimulation for seniors. This CABHI project is helping caregivers by making the tool more accessible and functional within the home by running training sessions for caregivers, developing and distributing promotional content, as well as developing an educational video component. Empowering caregivers to better support the needs of their patients at home can lead to lower levels of stress and increased confidence, and also allow older adults to age at home.

Let’s Not Forget the Caregiver

As the population ages and the incidences of Alzheimer’s continue to grow, caregivers will bear many of the pressures and challenges that accompany this disease. Thus, it is crucial that solutions are made available to help combat many of the symptoms and warning signs that lead to caregiver burnout. Moreover, bringing innovations to the market that can alleviate the symptoms of caregiver burnout can help everybody prepare for the challenges an older population will bring.

To learn more about the solutions in CABHI’s pipeline that promise to make a difference, click this link to visit our 2017 Innovation Investments Page, or click here to sign up for CABHI’s mailing list!

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  • Alzheimer Society of Canada (2012), Ostbye, et al (1994), Public Health Agency of Canada (2014b), Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Population estimates (year 2014):
  • Dementia prevalence estimates:
  • Population estimates (year 2033, medium growth):