Caregivers often experience psychological, behavioral, and physiological effects that can contribute to impaired immune system function and coronary heart disease, and early death, reports the National Institutes of Health.
The demands on the family caregiver have never been greater. People are living longer, often with at least one chronic condition, while hospital stays are getting shorter and medical services more expensive, leaving a significant amount of care left for loved ones to provide. These loved ones are often adult children with families of their own, full-time careers, and limited health care knowledge. And their numbers are growing.
About 66 million Americans care for an aging, seriously ill, or disabled family member or friend, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. A majority of caregivers are female and nearly two-thirds are employed full or part-time.
As family caregivers become more crucial in the delivery of complex health care – most commonly associated with advanced age, dementia, and cancer – they are at risk of suffering from caregiver stress. Caregiver stress is the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. Individuals who experience caregiver stress are the most vulnerable to changes in their own health. Read more