When Caring for Family, Personal Health Is a Casualty

By , Category : Health News

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

 Caring for FamilyAcross the U.S., an estimated 14.7 million family caregivers tend to the welfare of 7.7 million elderly who live outside the system of nursing and care homes.

These caregivers provide vital services to their loved ones, but a recent study has found that this often comes at great personal financial, physical, and mental health costs.

The researchers drew on data from a pair of 2011 surveys when making their assessment. The data covered 1,739 family caregivers and 1,171 elderly adults, with the findings statistically weighted and broadened to the population at large.

This was how the researchers determined that around 6.5 million family caregivers provide “substantial” assistance with medical needs, 4.4 million offer moderate help with medical needs, and 3.8 million do not offer aid with healthcare but instead assist in other lifestyle areas. About 46% of the surveyed caregivers were tending to someone with a form of dementia and another 34% were providing care to an elder with another form of severe disability. Of those who provided substantial medical help, roughly half spent 28 hours per week doing so.

In terms of the effects that this had on the caregivers’ lives, the study had a limited scope in what it could assess but its findings remain intriguing. For instance, caregivers who were providing substantial care were five times more likely to miss important events in their own lives and were three times as likely to suffer productivity loss at work.

About 20% of substantial caregivers had to miss work at least once in the past month, compared to seven percent of modest support caregivers and 3.5% of non healthcare caregivers.

These findings are mostly in-line with previous research on the subject. Past studies on the matter have consistently found that caregivers render services valued at around $450 billion per year if charged by conventional means. These services take tolls in time, attention, and mental strain that lead many caregivers to have to give up promotions, wages, health insurance and other benefits, and sometimes retirement savings.

It is extremely important that caregivers have a support network in place to allow them to deal with the burden of their duties, and that the government acknowledges their important contributions to the welfare of the aging population.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Woliff, J., et al., “A National Profile of Family and Unpaid Caregivers Who Assist Older Adults With Health Care Activities,” JAMA International Medicine, 2016; http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2491683, last accessed February 16, 2016.

Sign up for the latest health news, tips and special product offers with our daily Free e-Letters, the Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin and the Health eTalk with the Bel Marra Doctors.

Opt-in by entering your e-mail address below and clicking submit. Your e-mail will never be shared, sold or rented to anyone for promotional or advertising purposes, and you can unsubscribe easily at any time.

Yes, I’m opting in for the FREE Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin and
Health eTalk with the Bel Marra Doctors:

Adrian Newman, B.A.

About the Author, Browse Adrian's Articles

Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »