Caregiving in the US and Canada: AARP and CARP Perspectives

February 2, 2010
Hosted by Dr. Gordon Atherley

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Episode Description

The healthcare systems of the US and Canada rely on the unpaid help of family caregivers. Family caregivers are the people who provide care to family members suffering health challenges. AARP and its Canadian counterpart, CARP, advocate for US Boomers and Canadian Zoomers, the very people who are the family caregivers. Many family caregivers provide care for aging parents with long-term and, often, incurable medical conditions. Other family caregivers provide care to their children with special needs. Either way, the family caregiving is intense, demanding and, all too often, a stress and strain on the health of the family caregiver. It can be financially burdensome, too. AARP’s Senior Vice President, Dr Susan Reinhard, and CARP’s Vice President Advocacy, lawyer Susan Eng, discuss the ways in which their organizations support family caregivers, the things for which they advocate on behalf of family caregivers, and the changes they want to see in the healthcare systems.

Family Caregivers Unite!

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Family caregivers are the people who provide care to partners, parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors and even co-workers. They are the people who provide care when everyone else has gone home. They are the people who organize the functioning of the home for the person with special needs, and for the family as a whole. They are the coordinators of care, the managers of appointments, the preventers of loneliness, and the makers of decisions even to the point of Power of Attorney. And they are so often people who themselves are burdened with their own health challenges and who may be in only marginally better health than the persons to whom they are providing family caregiving.

Dr. Gordon Atherley

Dr Gordon Atherley holds the British equivalent of the Canadian PhD and MD degrees, and LLD, Honoris Causa, from Canada’s Simon Fraser University. His awards include Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK. His medical specialties are occupational medicine and public health.
As first President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the Canadian equivalent of the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, he led the creation of Canada’s electronic information service in occupational health and safety, now used in more than 40 countries.
In academia, he held senior, tenured, full-time positions, including departmental chair, in university faculties of physics, engineering, and medicine. He is the author of a textbook and numerous articles and publications.

Since retiring from medical practice, he’s built up Greyhead Associates, which critically researches the safety, effectiveness and fairness of health services for persons with special needs.
Through Virtual Care International, a company of which he’s President, he’s involved in providing sensible technology to family caregivers to help them with their responsibilities, workloads, and concerns.
Now an activist, he urges family caregivers to unite because, more and more, it’s not just their families who depend on them, it’s also the healthcare system as a whole, as it struggles to meet more and more needs of more and more people.

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