Caregivers Often Neglect Their Health
National Study Shows High Rates of Fatigue and Depression
Caregiver Woes Often Unrecognized
"I'm not sure that there's a terribly large amount of new stuff here.
But this study certainly shows the overall impact to caregivers and has done an
incredibly good job of pulling together the data," Eric J. Hall, CEO of the
Alzheimer's Foundation of America tells WebMD.
"Caregivers are truly the heroes of our society," Hall says.
"They do incredible work day in and day out, sometimes with little
recognition or gratitude."
Although the study showed that more than half of caregivers forgo doctor
visits because they're placing the care recipient's needs ahead of their own,
Hall says it would have been stronger if it had emphasized caregivers' primary
"They're doing this out of an incredibly large heart," he says.
"They end up sick because they are so absolutely committed by love to care
for their loved one. It's outrageous that this has a negative effect on their
Relieving the Burden
"Now that we know more about caregivers, it's important to provide them
with early interventions and prevention so they don't get to this fair or poor
health status," Mach says.
"It's important for caregivers to know they aren't alone and that there
are a lot of resources to help them shoulder the burden," Snelling
Evercare offers a "Solutions for Caregivers Program" that is
available to 400,000 employees nationwide through employer insurance and also
is available to uninsured individuals. Other companies offer similar plans that
provide nursing and social-worker support to caregivers.
"Long-term care plans are obviously beneficial," says Hall. "But
I suspect that only a rare minority of companies offer them to their
For many individuals, he says, purchasing such plans may not be feasible.
"There's a monthly fee that comes with that. Let's face it, not everyone
can afford to pay for their own long-term care insurance."
Caregiver Burden to Increase
Because most of the patients needing care were functionally impaired, the
study showed that up to three-quarters of caregivers had to assist with daily
tasks such as providing medicine; helping loved ones get in and out of beds and
chairs; dressing, feeding, and bathing them; assisting with toileting; and
dealing with incontinence
With the Baby Boomers nearing retirement, the burden on caregivers is
expected to dramatically increase.
"Long-term care is a critical issue," Hall says. "As a nation,
we need to be more sensitive to the needs of caregivers and those who have
long-term illnesses. I don't know who will ultimately pay for it, but we need
to pay more attention to the care side of things."