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The data are from the 2008/2009 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)–Healthy Aging, a cross-sectional survey about factors that contribute to healthy aging. Information was collected from 30,865 people aged 45 or older living in private occupied dwellings in the ten provinces. The survey excluded full-time members of the Canadian Forces and residents of the three territories, Indian reserves or Crown lands, institutions and some remote regions.
This study deals with people who reported that they provided care to a senior with a short- or long-term condition or limitation. Respondents who primarily provided care to someone younger than age 65 were excluded from this analysis. Some respondents reported caring for more than one person. The questions pertained to the person to whom, in the past 12 months, the caregiver had dedicated the most time and resources. It is possible that the caregiver who responded to the survey was not the only one providing care to that person.
Among caregivers, 11.4% were also receiving care. These respondents were included in the sample for this study, although subsequent analyses suggested that excluding them would not alter the results. The analysis represents caregivers, not care recipients; the information on care recipients is not representative of all Canadians aged 65 or older who receive care.
Descriptive statistics were used to compare caregivers with non-caregivers. Sampling weights were used in all analyses. To account for the complex survey design, a bootstrapping technique was applied for variance estimation.10
Caregivers were classified by age group: 45 to 54, 55 to 64, 65 to 74, and 75 or older. Their marital status was classified as married/common-law or widowed/separated/divorced/single. Household income deciles were derived by calculating the ratio between the total household income and Statistics Canada's low-income cutoff (LICO) specific to the number of people in the household, the size of the community, and the survey year. Their highest educational attainment was categorized as: less than secondary graduation, secondary graduation/some postsecondary, and postsecondary graduation. Employment data were collected only from respondents younger than age 75. Employment status was based on whether the respondent had worked in the past year.
Caregivers' self-perceived health was based on the question, "In general, would you say your health is: ...." Response options were: excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. Those with excellent or very good health were defined as having high self-perceived health, and those with good, fair or poor health were defined as having lower self-perceived health. A similar question was used for self-perceived mental health. Both self-perceived physical and mental health were age-standardized to account for the uneven distribution within the age categories.
The characteristics of care recipients examined in this study are age (65 to 74, 75 to 84, and 85 or older), relationship to caregiver (for example, spouse, parent or child), residence (same household, other household or institution), and nature of their health condition (short-term, long-term, other). The CCHS–Healthy Aging did not collect data on care recipients' specific health conditions.
The characteristics of the care provided are the type (transportation, help with housework, personal care, meals and other), duration (less than one year to five or more years), frequency (daily, less than daily, occasionally or rarely), and whether providing care had affected the caregiver's health.
Based on a list of response options, caregivers were asked about the positive and negative aspects of providing care.
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