The effects of caregiver stress

Tuesday, 12 July, 2016

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The stress of caregiving can take a serious toll on family members. Spouses between the ages of 66 and 96 acting as caregivers have 63 percent higher risk of dying than their non-caregiving peers. This rate is increased by sadness related to loss, stress and the physical effects of caregiving. Middle-aged caregivers, baby boomers, typically work and raise children in addition to caregiving. These caregivers have higher rates of depression and illness than their peers.

The extra stress alone may not cause these severe effects, but when coupled with the fact that family caregivers do not typically use preventative care, their health takes a hit. They often find it difficult to make the time to look after themselves, which can cause feelings of anger, anxiety, isolation and sadness. Some common health concerns reported by family caregivers include: sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and avoiding doctors’ appointments. Health problems they are more likely to suffer from even include diabetes and heart disease. Family caregivers are also at an increased risk for depression as well as abuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs. In fact, multiple studies have demonstrated that an estimated 46 percent of these caregivers are clinically depressed. Penn State and Benjamin Rose Institute researchers state that many of these troubles develop from the family caregiver’s lack of formal training.