Adult children not equipped for that emergency call about their senior parents

A new study shows that adult children who expect to provide care for their senior parents in the near future are ill-prepared. The survey, conducted for Home Instead Senior Care®, says that far too many adult sons and daughters don’t have the information they need should a call come, and their senior mother or father requires help.

Home Instead Senior Care, a leading provider of home care services for seniors in their own homes and in care facilities with 29 locations across Canada, has developed a variety of resources including the Senior Emergency Kit, a management tool that can help family caregivers keep important information at their fingertips.

51 percent can't name any medications their parents take dailyThe study surveyed future family caregivers – people who plan to care for their parents when the need arises. Here are some findings:

• 43 percent of future caregivers say they expect to start caring for their parents within the next three years; 14 percent say they expect the call to come within the next year; and one in ten expect to be called into action at any minute

• 51 percent can’t name any medications their parents take daily

• 52 percent who say their parents have allergies to medications can’t name these allergies

• 76 percent can’t name their parents’ blood type.

According to the study, the average age of these future caregivers is 54, and two-thirds of them (or 66 percent), are employed full-time or self-employed. As for the health risks and challenges faced by their senior parents, future caregivers say:

• 59 percent of their senior parents have at least two medical or health conditions, the most common being high blood pressure, arthritis, problems with mobility, heart disease, and diabetes

• 43 percent of senior parents take three or more prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and supplements each day

• 36 percent of senior parents have three or more factors that put them at risk for medication-related problems

• 23 percent of senior parents have been hospitalized in the past year.


Seniors represent 13.9 percent of the Canadian population and it’s rising. Statistics Canada’s A Portrait of Seniors in Canada says seniors will make up 17 percent of the population in 2026 and 27 percent in 2056. This means that more seniors will need care in the future.

43 percent of future caregivers say they expect to start caring for their parents within the next three years“Seniors cope well until a crisis occurs and then somebody must step in, and that’s when the children see that their mother or father is taking all these medications,” says Pronica Janikowski, Professional Development Coordinator of the Canadian Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

“They are very surprised, but it’s not unusual. A senior with four health problems – an eye condition, hypertension, cardiac issues and diabetes – could be taking eight different medications, and sometimes there are side effects and they take medications for the side effects too.”

Janikowski says seniors should have a friend, a family caregiver or professional caregiver look out for them if they go to the hospital or visit their doctor. This will ensure that proper instructions are followed.

For more information about medications for seniors, visit the Canadian Society of Consultant Pharmacists at You can also check out or contact a local Home Instead Senior Care office at