Mental and Physical Effects of Caregiving



Mental and Physical Effects of Caregiving

Research by organizations such as the Centers for Medical Services (CMS), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), and the American Association of Retired People (AARP) shows the significant and long-term impact of caregiving. Based on their research, caregivers who provide continuous care for long periods are at risk of developing caregiver burnout (among other ailments).

Caregiving is a physically and emotionally draining job. After performing caregiving duties daily for an extended time, that strain begins to take a toll on your physical and mental health.

40-70% of Caregivers Show Signs of Significant Depression 

Statistics from the Caregiver Action Network show the following impact of caregiving on the health of the caregiver:

  • 40-70% of family caregivers show clinical signs of significant depression, with 25% of those meeting the criteria of major depression (some considering ending their lives)
  • 20% of employed female caregivers over age 50 report symptoms of depression
  • 23% report their health is fair or poor because of caring for a family member
  • 72% report not going to the doctor as they should instead of caring for someone else
  • 1:10 (11%) of family caregivers report that caregiving caused their health to get worse
  • A caregiver wife’s hospitalization increases her husband’s risk of dying to 35% within one month. If the husband is the hospitalized caregiver, the risk for his wife’s death is 44% within the month of his admission.
  • The extreme stress of family caregiving causes premature aging and takes approximately ten years off caregivers’ life expectancy.

Chronic Conditions Develop  

Often caregivers develop chronic health conditions that become disabling due to failure to take care of their own health needs. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels all come about due to poor eating habits, high stress, and lack of sleep. Family members who spend nine or more hours per day in caregiving activities double their heart disease risk. As the family caregiver ages, so increases the risk of early mortality.
As more and more of the healthcare burden is shifting to care at home, the impact on family caregivers is becoming a healthcare crisis.

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