Seniors Advocate says B.C. must connect more seniors with respite relief

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VICTORIA - British Columbia's advocate for seniors says unpaid loved ones who look after their elderly relatives are not getting the help they need from government programs.

A new report by Isobel Mackenzie says the government needs to do a better job connecting seniors and their unpaid caregivers with programs set up to offer relief.

Mackenzie's report says almost 40 per cent of over 20,000 estimated unpaid caregivers experience distress looking after people, but less than 10 per cent take advantage of adult day services which offer respite care.

She says such programs and home supports allow caregivers to run errands and complete tasks beyond helping their loved ones, but use of those programs is declining.

Her report says data from other provinces indicates enhanced adult supports can cut hospital visits by almost 50 per cent.

Health Minister Terry Lake says in a statement that his ministry is examining the report to determine ways to improve care for seniors.

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