TORONTO - In our increasingly mobile society, young people often move away from home for an education or job. Years down the road, they may be faced with challenges as their parents grow old and their health declines.
A report by Statistics Canada, released Tuesday, attempts to capture the scope of the situation by delving into the consequences of long-distance caregiving.
Based on 2007 data, the study found that about 1.65 million people aged 45 and over assisted a parent or a mother- or father-in-law with a long-term health problem or physical limitation.
More than one in five - an estimated 359,700 adults - were caring for a parent from more than an hour away, it said.
Fifteen per cent were between one hour and less than half a day's journey by car from their parents, while seven per cent were more than half a day's journey by car away.
The study, which used numbers from the 2007 General Social Survey, also found that long-distance caregiving can affect finances and work life.
"Caregivers living further from the assisted parent were more likely to have extra expenses," said a release issued with the study.
"When they did, they spent larger amounts. They were also more likely to miss full days of work. The responsibility of providing this long-distance care resulted in more work-related consequences for women than men."
Among those living more than an hour's journey away, 46 per cent of women missed days of work to provide care, compared to 27 per cent of men, the report said.
For those living less than an hour away, more women than men missed work as well - 32 per cent compared to 26 per cent for men.
The statistics also revealed that those who lived farther away and were caring for ailing parents were generally more educated, had higher incomes, had on average fewer brothers and sisters, and tended to live in the largest metropolitan areas.