Being a caregiver for a loved one can be rewarding and fulfilling, even renewing relationships later in life. However, depending on the illness that someone is living with, caregiving can also be physically and emotionally draining and lead to health issues for a well-meaning caregiver.
The Family Caregiver Alliance provides a variety of statistics on caregiving pulled from many sources. They note several interesting facts, including:
- Those older caregivers—those over age 65—rate a physical strain of caregiving as high
- That caregiving spouses have poorer health than other types of family caregivers
- That 11% of caregivers report that being a caregiver caused their physical health to deteriorate
- Caregivers who provide care for persons with dementia risk compromising their immune systems for up to 3 years after their caregiving experience ends, thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.
- Negative effects of caregiving are greatest for persons aged 18-29
- 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression.
- That caregivers for someone who is living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia also rate a physical strain of caregiving
Family members often jump into caregiving with no experience or training. Caregiving for a loved one can start small, doing a few favors or helping out here and there. Then the stress can also arise if a progressive disease such as dementia declines and the demand for help increases.
In some instances, a loved one has time to be a companion to an elder who just needs a little company and help driving to the grocery store. However, some conditions require physical help such as lifting someone in and out of bed or the tub and this can cause injuries to the caregiver.
When someone has a progressive illness that leads to a deterioration in their abilities to take care of their daily activities, it can lead to a family member taking on more and more personal care for which they are unprepared, as well as the emotional stress of watching their parents or spouse changing.
Individual personalized treatment by a professional caregiver with a personalized approach can improve the efforts of a family caregiver and reduce stress and the risk of disease. To reduce frustration and damage, a healthcare team needs certain people who require support.
Being aware of the risks of caring for a family member is important so that caregivers can seek out the support they need to maintain their wellness.
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