Community Blog

5 Ways Being A Caregiver Can Impact Your Health

By Ketan Shah

Being a caregiver to an older adult with a chronic medical condition is one of the most difficult things you may ever find yourself doing. It’s incredibly time consuming, tiring, and stressful. Because of the strain, many family caregivers find themselves in declining physical and mental health. Family caregivers can suffer from all kinds of health problems, including the 5 listed below.

#1: Weakened Immune System

The stress of being a caregiver can affect the immune system, lessening its ability to protect you from illness and infection. You may find yourself catching a cold or getting the flu more often than other people do. In addition, having a weaker immune system can make flu vaccines less effective so they don’t provide as much protection.

#2: Increased Risk for Depression

Between 40 and 70 percent of caregivers have symptoms of clinical depression. Female caregivers are more likely to suffer from depression then males. However, anyone can be depressed. The more severely ill the older adult you’re caring for is and the greater the burden of care, the more likely you are to develop depression.

#3: Higher Risk of Harmful Behaviors

Caregivers sometimes resort to using drugs or alcohol to relieve the stress of their responsibilities. One glass of wine at night can easily turn into two, three, or more. Or, you might find yourself misusing medicines, like pain killers or sleeping pills.

#4: General Poor Health

Statistics show that caregivers suffer from physical ailments and diseases more than non-caregivers do. They tend to have problems like acid reflux, headaches, and body aches than others. They are also at higher risk for serious diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. In addition, caregivers are more likely to be obese, which puts them at risk for many health conditions.

#5: Engage in Self-Care Less Often

Caregivers frequently don’t find or make the time to take care of themselves. They don’t go to the doctor regularly for checkups or screenings. Female caregivers are twice as likely to neglect filling a prescription for themselves. In addition, caregivers often eat poorly because they don’t have time or energy to make healthy meals. They also tend to exercise less.

If you’ve noticed your health isn’t what it used to be before you became a family caregiver, what you may need is some help. Hiring home care through an agency can allow you the time you need to rest, get a medical checkup, and spend time with family and friends.


Sources
https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/caregiver-stress
https://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/faq/health-effects
https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-health

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring caregivers in Mountain View, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.