Canada’s baby boomers are devoting their time and money to help their aging parents with everything from a drive to the doctor’s office to making financial and health decisions, reveals a new poll conducted for Investors Group.

According to a national survey of Canadians 43 to 63 years of age, 69% still have at least one living parent or parent-in-law. Among this group, one-third report they are providing care in one form or another for aging parents. Specifically, these caregiving boomers are travelling a monthly average of 225 kilometres and devoting the equivalent of a work week — 42 hours — each month to provide support on a variety of fronts.

In addition to these commitments, four-in-10 caregivers are also providing financial assistance to their parents. The price tag: an average of $498 per month.

“Taking care of your parents is nothing new, but we are definitely seeing its effect on boomers’ resources as they approach retirement,” says Jane Olshewski, Manager, financial life planning at Investors Group. “As this group and their parents grow older, more and more boomers will need to learn how to cope with these duties.”

Although some caregiving boomers are spending an average of nearly $6,000 per year on their parents, financial support is only one aspect of the mixed bag of responsibilities that boomers have taken on to support their parents. According to the poll, everyday activities such as companionship (65%), transportation to appointments or social events (64%), home maintenance (56%) and household chores (55%) mingle with weightier matters like help with their parents’ banking and investment activities or financial decision-making (61%) and ensuring that their health-care needs are met (55%).

Only one-in-10 caregivers identify their financial commitments to their parents as a source of stress. In fact, nearly half say it makes them feel very good to provide this support and two-thirds feel like they’re repaying their parents for the time and effort that went into their own upbringing.

Instead of a money crunch, the poll found that caregiving boomers consider the demands on their time and emotional resources to be more stressful. Six-in-10 caregivers believe that their parents expect this type of assistance, and the majority (51%) of caregivers say that their parents’ emotional demands are a source of stress. Four-in-10 identify their parents’ demands on their time as a strain, which may not be surprising since a third of caregivers say their responsibilities result in lost time at work.

Among those providing help to their parents, roughly a third are also parents themselves. Four-in-10 of these ‘sandwich’ boomers describe these combined duties as a source of additional stress.

“Our research shows that boomers don’t mind making these sacrifices, but many people may not be prepared for the volume or the emotional weight of these responsibilities,” says Olshewski.

Despite giving up a portion of their incomes, emotional energy and personal and work time, the poll shows that to most caregiving boomers, the benefits of being on call have proved invaluable.

More than half of caregiving boomers agree that their relationships with their parents have improved and their connection as a family has strengthened as a result of their responsibilities. Six-in-10 say they spend more quality time together than they would have otherwise.

A total of 500 surveys were completed with Canadian adults aged 43 to 63 from September 23 to October 3 2009. In a fashion similar to a telephone study, email addresses from the Harris/Decima panel were pulled at random. When contacted to solicit participation, participants had no prior knowledge of the subject matter of the study.