“Family caregivers” provide care and assistance for spouses, children, parents, extended family members and friends who are in need of support because of age, disabling medical conditions, chronic injury, long term illness or disability. The number of caregivers (including those caring for someone at end-of-life) in Canada today is estimated at five million (Canadian Caregiver Coalition, 2012). With the aging population, this number is expected to increase. More than three-quarters of family caregivers are employed and most work full time. In 2007, about 520,000 employed caregivers missed at least one day of work per month to provide care, and 313,000 reduced their work hours (Fast et al., 2011). Family caregivers typically have household incomes below the national average—only 35 percent of households with caregivers report income over $45,000 (Fast, 2008). Women most often fulfill family caregiver responsibilities; however, the number of male family caregivers is increasing (Fast, 2008). Historically, palliative care has been regarded as a service at the end of life when individuals did not receive any treatment. Today, palliative care integrated earlier in the disease/end-of-life trajectory is acknowledged as necessary and the desired standard of care.
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