Providing Care is Affecting the Health of Caregivers

Caregiving is taking its toll on caregivers, and the challenge will only grow as the baby boomer generation grows older, increasing the demand for caregivers.

Caregiving is taking its toll on caregivers, and the challenge will only grow as the baby boomer generation grows older, increasing the demand for caregivers. According to a survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians many caregivers are seeing their roles affect their own health.

More than 43 million Americans provide care for someone age 50 or older. Of that, 15 million are providing care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or some other dementia. And the role of caregiver is affecting them.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans providing care for an elderly, disabled or otherwise limited family member or friend have reported that caregiving has impacted their own health, with 60% reported that it sometimes causes them to lose sleep.

Half (52%) said that they have neglected other responsibilities — their own health needs, running errands, caring for the house, spending time with other family and friends — because of caregiving.

Primary care physicians are usually the go-to person when caregivers are looking for information. Of the two-thirds who looked to a physician or health care provider for answers about the health of the person they care for, 96% turned specifically to a primary care physician.

More than half (57%) went online, but 56% of them used multiple sources for credible information.

“This age of instant information is a boon and a challenge for caregivers,” said Glen Stream, MD, MBI, president of the AAFP, in a statement. “Caregiving can be a challenge as new health issues develop and a loved one’s needs change. Family physicians are the place to start for information about a loved one’s health, but millions of Americans turn to online sources to learn — for example — how to keep the home environment safe or how to make sure an elderly loved one is eating right.”