New handbook for caregivers of seniors

For anybody who is caring for an elderly family member or friend, or knows someone who is, the new Metro Vancouver Family & Friend Caregivers Information and Resource Handbook is an indispensable resource. The guide is a first of its kind supplying key information about the topics caregivers struggle with the most, including housing, health care and the law.

The 100-page handbook includes information on:

  • The full range of community services that help seniors to age-in-place in their own homes (many of these agencies receive grants from United Way)
  • Housing, including information on getting into assisted living and residential care, and a check-list of things to do when a senior has to move
  • Caregiver supports, including United Way-funded support programs and networks in the region
  • The non-medical home support services offered by United Way Better at Home, the government-funded and United Way-managed program soon to be available in many communities throughout the Lower Mainland
  • Health concerns, such as dementia and depression, with information on disease-specific programs and websites
  • Legal issues, including how to prepare a representation agreement, and
  • End-of-life issues and care.

The handbook is published online at and has been distributed to health authorities, community agencies, and caregiver support networks. Information for caregivers is also always available at bc211, a free information and referral service funded by United Way.

The booklet was made possible through a grant from United Way of the Lower Mainland to Burnaby Seniors Outreach Services Society (BSOSS). Gerontologist and elder caregiving consultant Katherine Willett is the writer and researcher of the guide. She started the project as a resource for Burnaby family caregivers and this summer expanded the directory to include information for caregivers across Metro Vancouver. The handbook will be updated annually.

In 2012, about 8.1 million individuals, or 28% of Canadians aged 15 and older, provided care to a family member or friend with a long-term health condition, disability or aging needs. Ailing parents were the most common recipients of care with 39% providing care to their own parents and 9% to their parents-in-law (Statistics Canada, Caregivers in Canada, 2012).