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Toll of Caregiving Widespread, Study Says

Stressed out caregiver with his hand on his head.
According to a study, Evercare/National Alliance for Caregiving Study of Caregivers — What They Spend, What They Sacrifice, caregivers reported they were spending on average 35.4 hours a week caring for their loved ones.

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November 15, 2011

Asking for help when the burden of caring for a loved one gets to be too much isn’t a sign of weakness. Many are faced with that stress. Home Instead CAREGiversSM are often called to provide respite care to families and are specially trained to work with all types of situations.

Q. I am an 80-year-old woman who has been caring for my 85-year husband with Alzheimer’s disease for the past two years. I love caring for my husband, but the stress is starting to get to me. I don’t have a life anymore. Am I alone?

No, you’re not and it’s time for you to start reaching out for support. According to a study, Evercare/National Alliance for Caregiving Study of Caregivers — What They Spend, What They Sacrifice, caregivers reported they were spending on average 35.4 hours a week caring for their loved ones, with 19 percent providing care for more than three years and 32 percent caregiving for more than five years.

To accommodate the caregiving time and expenses they had, study respondents were making the following sacrifices:

  • Cutting back on leisure activities (49 percent) and vacations (47 percent)
  • Saving less or not at all for their children’s future (38 percent);
  • Using their savings (34 percent);
  • Cutting back on basics such as clothing, utilities or transportation (27 percent) and groceries (25 percent); and,
  • Cutting back on personal medical or dental expenses (23 percent).

Here’s an interesting observation from a study participant that will relate to you: “Time is the most expensive commodity I provide – but it has no price tag,” one caregiver wrote in a diary. Despite the sacrifice, caregivers also said it was a commitment they made willingly.

Study respondents reported on the personal and emotional impact which includes:

  • Heightened stress or anxiety (65 percent);
  • Difficulty sleeping (49 percent);
  • Increased financial worries (43 percent);
  • Depression or hopelessness (37 percent), and
  • New or worsening health problems (26 percent).

So, as you can see, others share your plight. You need respite help to maintain your health and sanity. For resources and more information, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org.

By reaching out to your local Home Instead Senior Care® office, you can get relief as well. The organization’s non-medical CAREGiversSM often step in to provide respite care to families and are specially trained to work with all types of family situations.

Information on the “Evercare/NAC Study of Caregivers: What They Spend, What They Sacrifice” is at http://www.caregiving.org/data/Evercare_NAC_CaregiverCostStudyFINAL20111907.pdf.

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