A large and growing body of evidence has revealed that providing care for a chronically ill person can have harmful physical, mental, and emotional consequences for the caregiver. As families struggle to care for their loved ones, their own health is jeopardized.
This important public health issue has broad implications. Medical advances, shorter hospital stays, limited discharge planning, and expansion of home care technology have placed increased costs as well as increased care responsibilities on families, who are being asked to shoulder greater care burdens for longer periods of time. To make matters worse, caregivers are more likely to lack health insurance coverage due to time out of the workforce. These burdens and health risks can hinder the caregivers’ ability to provide care, lead to higher health care costs and affect their own quality of life as well as that of the care receivers.
FCA has introduced a new Fact Sheet discussing this significant issue. It describes the impact of caregiving on the mental and physical health of the caregiver, summarizes research from a variety of sources, and offers recommendations from a health and public policy perspective.
Studies indicate that caregivers:
- suffer from high levels of stress and frustration
- show higher levels of depression
- may exhibit harmful behaviors
- are in worse physical health than noncaregivers
- may have increased risk of heart disease
- have lower levels of self-care
- may pay the ultimate price for providing care—increased mortality.
This new publication joins the FCA library of more than 60 Fact Sheets on caregiving issues, with many translated into Chinese and Spanish. All are available at no charge on the FCA website at www.caregiver.org, or send $2 for each copy to Family Caregiver Alliance, 180 Montgomery Street, Ste. 1100, San Francisco, CA 94104.
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