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Caregiver StressMeter: High Stress Result

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It appears that your family caregiving situation has become quite stressful and demanding, so much so that you may experience your own health repercussions. Reaching out for professional assistance for your loved one and yourself (including seeing a doctor for a check-up) seems advisable. You may also want to seek out a support group, especially if your loved one is disabled and/or suffering from any form of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

If you're providing care for a spouse and you find that you are dealing with this situation alone and are feeling stressed, depressed or isolated, research shows that it is very important for you to reach out for help. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that caregivers between the ages of 66 and 96, who were experiencing ongoing mental or emotional strain as a result of their spousal caregiving duties, had a 63% increased risk of dying over those people in the same age group who were not caring for someone.

If you find that the stress you feel is also causing you to experience feelings of guilt or resentment toward other family members or even the senior you are caring for you aren't alone. In a survey by Home Instead, one quarter (25%) of family caregivers admit that they resent other family members who don't help out with senior caregiving responsibilities.

If you are experiencing feelings of depression, helplessness or isolation, experts recommend that you seek assistance or consider a new living arrangement for your aging loved one. Richard Schulz, Ph.D., caregiver stress expert at the University of Pittsburgh says, "Studies show that if depression is left untreated it can lead to other health problems and even very tragic outcomes, such as suicide and homicide." He warns, "It is important for a caregiver who is experiencing chronic stress as a result of his/her caregiving duties to get help."

In JAMA's Findings from the Caregiver Health Effect Study, the results were consistent with earlier research proving that caregivers who report caregiver strain have higher levels of depression and have worse health practices than non-caregivers. "There are ways to relieve the burden," adds Dr. Schulz. "Support groups offer lifelines out of isolation. Non-medical senior care, adult day care centers, friends/family, etc., can provide respite. Regular exercise lowers blood pressure and reduces stress and depression. Most of all: you [the caregiver] must look after yourself, since without your own good health, your aging loved one will suffer, too."

The following links may prove helpful to you and your family:

Last revised: August 12, 2011

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. March 3, 2016 at 11:35 am | Posted by Teresa Day

    I have always cared for my mom in one way or another. This past 5 years her health has declined. She now lives with me and my husband. It has taken a toll on our relationship. I have many times wanted to give up and put her in a nursing home. So far he has stood by me. He is her alternate caregiver. My brother doesn't help unless asked. He said this was your choice. Doesn't volunteer. The financial strain has been emence. I quit my job to be her caregiver. I cry alot. It's not just her it's the everyday things. Laundry dishes and meals plus the 4 dogs to take care of. I pray and I know he helps me. Faith.


  2. March 11, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Posted by Beth

    I help take care of my grandmother for five years who had Dementia and later cancer. I was only 16 and my sister was 12. My mother had to work and helped when she was home but my uncles and the rest of my family left it all on us. I was 21yrs when she passed and I could not cry until I two years later. I feel for you and I will pray for you. It's very stressful and emotional rollar coaster, if you can take a few minutes a day to take care of yourself. I hope things get better for you and your sister. Your awesome for taking on the job but make sure you get some kind of rest every now and then


  3. September 15, 2013 at 10:22 am | Posted by Gayle Hargrove

    My test result is moderate verging on high stress level. My sister is 59, a yr younger than me, with multiple chronic conditions, and immobile. My other siblings don't help or even send money. They think I can handle it all even when they know this has adversely affected my finances @ I have my own health issues. I live a 4 hr drive from my sister in MD. This has been going on for 10 yrs & I have helped raise my niece as my sister has gone from home care to rehab facility to nursing home. My once close siblings trained with family loyalty either really don't care or put their own needs so high above this critical situation that they won't see it. If it wasn't for friends I would be unable to manage. I must live the obligation of family while being hurt and disappointed by family. I have to rekindle family loyalty for our younger generation. My sister is living as best as she can.


  4. July 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Posted by Susan

    I started to care for my mother 4 years ago since my fathers passing. She is in a wheelchair and needs assistance for everything, she has Hospice coming in 3 times a week to help with showers twice a week, and medicines and general status on her health once a week. I have no assistance for her care other then that and do it on my own 24/7 I do have a brother and sister but to them they feel I can handle all the decisions and with no time to myself at all. I am a 50 yr old widow , yes I did care for my husband whom passed from Appendix Cancer 7 years ago. I don't understand how they say I am strong enough to handle this. I had a 3 year break from this and to tell you the truth I feel alone, stressed, and cry a lot anymore. There is no way i could put her in a nursing facility she would lose everything she has , I feel it is unfair to her and myself. Respite can't help because she refuses strangers in her home without me being here. So what I want to know is , When should enough be enough ?


  5. April 17, 2012 at 1:13 am | Posted by Diana Santiago

    I live with my 80 year old mother who is becoming more and more difficult to interact with. The biggest problem I have with her is she is very ungrateful for all the things I do for her. I have numerous brothers and sisters who provide some level of help but nowhere near the care I provide. They, however, are always held in very high regard by my mother while I get little to no thanks for anything I do. Sometimes I don't even feel like a member of the family but a servant of some kind. I am becoming extremely resentful which I believe may be adding to my battle with hypertension. I am anxiety-ridden most days but don't see myself treating the problem with medications. I would like to just be able to move out and let somebody else take care of my mother but I am the eldest in the family and no one else is in any position to care for her. They would have to hire someone but my mother would never allow it. I feel trapped. It's as if there isn't a good solution to this problem and if it continues, I'm afraid my own health will continue to deteriorate. I'm just stressed out constantly. Anyway, thanks for giving us a forum to vent. Just being able to do that much is helpful right now. :-)


    • July 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Posted by nikki

      I know this is almost 2 years but I just read you're story. I am very young and having to take care of my 96 year old Grandmother and probably will have to take care of my mother as well all at the same time without help from others. I know the stress and not feeling so hot at times along with the resentments. I get so tired where I dread morning hours as well so you are not alone. There are times when I don't even get sleep because I am always constantly checking up on my grandmother and while visiting my mother doing the same for her. I send you huge huge cyber hugs.


  6. March 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Posted by carlota corona

    Hi Marlene mi name is Carla i have a similar situation with mi father he is 70 and with in time it has become hard for me because mi mother is old as well and dosent want to help out i am single and it hurts to se al mi frien having fun ni cant beause i haveto be there 24 seven


  7. November 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Posted by Marlene Proietta

    I care for my 92yr mother in her home since my father died 2yrs ago - she has mobility problems complicated by "learned helplessness" we always had an adversarial relationship I have a seperate living room/tv for my "sactuary" my mother sleeps in her chair in front of the tv (past 10yrs) I took early retirment 5yrs ago to continue to help my family (from career in nursing and therapy) I was living out of state (sister with Down's died 5yrs ago) my older brother died 20yrs ago - no other siblings -one dtr/fam here - 2 dtrs/fam out of state - my spouse stayed back when i moved here indefinitely 3yrs ago when my father got sick I started on Paxil after a panic attack 2yrs ago which helps along with xanax prn my mother requires min to moderate assistance with personal care - otherwise dependent for all meals -household chores and finances - she never worked out side the home - did not drive and was always dependent on my father (except for cooking and household chores) she was very demanding of him - i try to set boundaries - have gotten good at saying no and try to use strategies for conflict - i plan to enroll her in the near future into the PACE program or an assisted living facility thank you for this opportunity marlene proietta


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