Family caregivers often provide care to their elderly loved ones. Caring for a loved one is a tremendous responsibility, especially if you're doing it on your own.
The demands can be overwhelming which can lead to increased levels of stress. If caregivers aren't aware of this danger, they can put their own health and well being at risk. Knowing the facts about caregiver stress is the first step in taking action to avoid it.
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Caregiver Stress: Know the Facts
- "Fair to poor" physical health: Approximately 1/3 of caregivers provide intensive care although they are themselves in "fair to poor" physical health.
- 63% higher mortality rate: Spousal caregivers aged 66 to 96 who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers in the same age.
- 2/3 have to rearrange their work schedule: 2/3 of working caregivers caring for someone aged 65+ have to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours, or take unpaid leave to meet their caregiving responsibilities.
- More likely to suffer from anxiety: Female caregivers are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and other symptoms associated with emotional stress due to caregiving.
- Depression is the most common psychological disorder: 20% to 50% of caregivers report depressive disorders or symptoms.
- Average loss of $25,494 in Social Security benefits: An informal caregiver is estimated to lose an average of $25,494 in Social Security benefits.
- 40% have been providing care for more than 5 years: Over 40% of caregivers have been providing assistance for 5 or more years, and nearly 1/5 have been doing so for 10+ years.
- 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty: Working women with caregiver roles are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty when they become elderly compared to women who have not been caregivers during their lifetime.
- Long-distance caregivers spend on average $392 per month: Long-distance caregivers spend an average of $392 per month on travel and out-of-pocket expenses as part of their caregiving duties.
What Can You Do?
Ask for help
Asking for support may seem obvious, but people are often hesitant to ask for fear of being a burden. However, more often than not, family and friends are eager to help even if it is just for a short time.
Maintain a healthy diet
Nutrition plays a large role in your overall health and mood. Eating the right foods can have a massive impact on your stress levels.
Take a break from work
Ask for some time off at the job. Block tiem off for a vacation. Get temporary help to get back on your feet. Take time to rest and rejuvenate your body.
Look for local caregiver support groups. You can perform a Google search or visit a senior center to find a group that meets in your area. Talking with other family caregivers can help tremendously when it comes to decreasing stress levels.
Talk to friends and family
The life of a caregiver can get lonely. Isolation is sometimes a part of the job. Making an effort to stay in contact with friends and family can go a long way to reduce stress levels.