11% of family caregivers report that caregiving has caused their physical health to deteriorate. [The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP–2009), Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, DC.] – Updated: November 2012
Family caregivers who are in good health are in a better position to help parents age well. No surprise here. Reading the statistics about family caregivers’ health several years ago was sobering. The Family Caregiver Alliance’s 2012 “Selective Care Statistics Fact Sheet,” reports: “of those caring for someone aged 65+, the average age is 63 years with one third of these caregivers in fair to poor health.” The November 2012 report’s fact sheet is easy-to-read but long. However, it’s well-organized by topics–eg. gender, age, impact on working female caregivers, gender and care tasks–making selective reading easy. Example:
Impact of Caregiving on Caregiver’s Physical Health
While researchers have long known that caregiving can have deleterious mental health effects for caregivers, research shows that caregiving can have serious physical health consequences as well, 17% of caregivers feel their health in general has gotten worse as a result of their caregiving responsibilities. [AARP Public Policy Institute Valuing the Invaluable: 2008 Update. The Economic Value of Family Caregiving] – Updated: November 2012
Research shows an estimated 17-35% of family caregivers view their health as fair to poor. (Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update, The Economic Value of Family Caregiving. AARP Public Policy Institute.) Updated: November 2012
Those who are more likely to rate physical strain of caregiving “high” are female (17% vs. 10% males) and older (21% are 65+ vs. 11% at 18-49). They have lower incomes (19% vs. 11% of those with an annual income of $50,000+), a higher level of burden (31% vs. 9%, of those with a moderate level of burden and 5% of those with a low level), and are living with their care recipient (29% vs. 11% who don’t live together). (National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP–2009, Caregiving in the U.S., A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Age 50 or Older, Bethesda, MD: National Alliance for Caregiving, Washington, D.C.) Updated: November 2012
Who takes care of the caregiver? Or must we find ways to take care of ourselves?