Caregiver Stress the Next Epidemic
“I’m so stressed out!” Certainly, all of us have made this proclamation. Take a moment now to think of how you felt at that time, and you will get a glimpse into the daily lives of our nation’s family caregivers. A caregiver is anyone who helps another person in need with daily tasks, such as bathing, cooking, eating, taking medications, dressing, using the bathroom, shopping, and house cleaning. Approximately 44 million Americans (21% of the adult population) provide unpaid care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that informal caregivers provide 80% of the longterm care in the United States. As our population continues to age, demands for care will steadily increase as will caregiver stress.
A silent epidemic
Caregiver stress is real, and its impact is severe. Providing care is physically and emotionally demanding, especially when the care recipient requires 24 hour care. A spousal caregiver over the age of 65 has a greatly increased risk of dying over spouses in the same age group who are not providing care. Very often, the caregiving spouse neglects his or her own health issues, which are usually compounded by stress, because he or she is too busy addressing the care needs of the spouse.
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by: Gina M. Barry