What Could Be Endangering the Health of Family Caregivers

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Caregivers worry about those they care for, often leading to their own health issues.Here’s some health advice for all the caregivers out there: when you’re finished caring for a loved one at the end of the day, make sure you get some support for yourself.

Being a caregiver is an invaluable service that you can provide for your family or a close friend. But care-giving also comes with a few of its own health issues. Most caregivers worry about the people they are helping, and this worry can eat away at their own good health.

Researchers in Italy recently studied a group of caregivers who were taking care of family members diagnosed with cancer. These caregivers, the researchers determined, were exposed to both physical and emotional distress as they cared for their loved ones. This exposure caused the caregivers to experience elevated levels of worry and anxiety.

A total of 107 family caregivers completed a battery of self-report questionnaires. Responses showed that there was a significant positive correlation between worry measures and the mental and physical health of the participants. In fact, worry and anxiety was a powerful and solid predictor of physical symptoms and depression levels.

Worry plays an important role in the psychological and physical health of a caregiver. While it’s often a way for caregivers to try to do a little mental problem solving, many issues remain unresolved due to the ongoing illness of patients. It’s this scenario that can trap a caregiver in a perpetual cycle of worry. The researchers’ advice? Get some support for yourself if you find that you are put in a care-giving role. Improving your ability to cope with stress and worry is likely to result in more positive benefits for you and your loved one. In fact, the researchers say that if the caregiver’s physical and emotional well-being is promoted, he or she can provide the best care possible to the patient.

PLUS: Some great ideas on how to reduce anxiety levels without drugs.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
What Could Be Endangering the Health of Family Caregivers
Zavagli, V., et al., “Worry as a risk factor for mental and somatic diseases. A research on home-cared cancer patients family caregivers,” G Ital Med Lav Ergon. April–June 2012; 34(2 Suppl B): B17–22.