WOLFVILLE - Janna Wentzell firmly believes there is no time like the present to start caring for our caregivers.
“They’re an at-risk population. The thing about caregivers is that they don’t look after their own health,” she said.
Wentzell, a kinesiology instructor at Acadia University and doctoral candidate at Royal Roads University, is in the process of circulating a survey that aims to foster a better understanding of the realities faced by unpaid, or minimally paid, relatives and friends caring for an adult over the age of 50.
“Because of that aging baby boomer (demographic) – the silver tsunami – the requirements for informal, or those unpaid family and friend caregivers, is going to increase dramatically, and we aren’t doing a great job of looking after the caregivers that we already have,” she said.
The objective is to have at least 300 people respond to the survey, which is part of Wentzell’s PhD research project.
“The overall goal is to understand whether or not exercise and physical activity can reduce caregiver burden and burnout,” she said.
“Burnout has been looked at extensively in health care professions… but not in this unpaid group because burnout is usually associated with your paid work.”
The survey is open to residents of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Wentzell sees the survey as the first step of an extensive research project that will examine how the social determinants of health impact caregivers, and what can be done about this.
“Often our most vulnerable remain our most vulnerable,” she said.
“As a society and as a country, we need to shift our thinking in the healthcare system from that reactionary healthcare to preventative.”
With seniors in particular, Wentzell has noted that many would benefit from a program that offers guided support around physical activity.
“We don’t have the emphasis on physical activity and sometimes people are nervous about how to do it,” she said.
She hopes the survey’s findings will paint a clear picture of the realities faced by caregivers providing transportation, medical or financial support, and help with household chores.
“It’s very timely and it’s not going away any time soon,” she said.
Learn more about the Caregiver Survey at goo.gl/7pjmXR, or visit the Caregiver Health Research Facebook page. To learn how to access a hard copy of the survey, contact Wentzell at 902-585-1797 or email@example.com.
Survey respondents will be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card.