Number of Canadians providing elder care rises by more than 670,000

The ranks of Canadians aged 45 and older who provide unpaid care to seniors are swelling.

The ranks of Canadians aged 45 and older who provide unpaid care to seniors are swelling.

Statistics Canada reports that last year, about 2.7 million people in that age group — about one in five — were taking care of someone 65 or older with long-term health problems. That’s up by more than 670,000 from 2002.

Some of the tasks provided include personal care, household work, outdoor work, transportation and medical care.

The Statistics Canada article released Tuesday, entitled Eldercare: What We Know Today, notes that the baby boom generation — people generally between 45 and 60 — tended to delay marriage, postpone having children and have a high proportion of women in the workforce. Many of these caregivers have multiple responsibilities.

“In 2007, nearly 43 per cent of the caregivers were between the ages of 45 and 54, the age at which many Canadians still have children living at home,” the report said. And work was part of the equation for more than half the caregivers, as 54 per cent were employed.

Census data show that the number of seniors in 2006 was more than 4.3 million, up 11.5 per cent from 2001. Projections show that the proportion of seniors will rise from 13 per cent in 2006 to 21 per cent in 2026.