As a caregiver to an older adult, you may spend much more time thinking about caring for your loved one than about taking care of yourself. In fact, that’s not so unusual. Research shows that many of the 44 million Americans who are caregivers provide a great deal of care while simultaneously ignoring their own health. You might scoff at that and think, “Yeah, if they’re like me, they don’t have time to worry about themselves.”
The truth is that you need to make time for your own health because it’s crucial not only to your own well-being but also to that of the senior for whom you are a family caregiver. Need some convincing?
Here are just 5 reasons caregivers should take care of themselves.
#1 Caregivers Are at Increased Risk for Depression
Up to 70 percent of caregivers have symptoms of depression. The more care the older adult requires, the more likely the caregiver is to develop depression. Depression is a medical condition that should be treated by a doctor. Treatment may include medications and therapy. Depression can make you feel tired, worthless, and disinterested. These feelings may keep you from doing your best as a caregiver.
#2 The Overall Physical Health of Caregivers May Suffer
One out of every ten caregivers says that being a caregiver has caused a decline in their health. Research shows that caregivers experience things like headaches, pain, and acid reflux more often than other people. Their immune systems tend to be weaker, too, making them less efficient at fighting off illnesses and infections. When you aren’t well, you may be unable to take care of your aging family member. Studies indicate that one of the most influential factors when making the decision to put an elderly person into a long-term care facility is the health of the caregiver.
#3 Being a Caregiver Increases the Risk of Heart Disease
Caregivers have a higher incidence of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Their cardiovascular systems are under pressure because of the stresses of caregiving. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, women who spend nine or more hours per week on caregiving duties are at double the risk for heart disease.
#4 Caregivers Are More Likely to Engage in Harmful Behaviors
In response to the stress of being a caregiver, many people turn to alcohol and drug use. Studies show that caregivers have a higher risk for substance abuse. In addition, caregivers are more likely to react with hostility than people who aren’t caregivers.
#5 Caregivers Have an Increased Risk of Death
Research indicates that older adults who are caregivers for their spouses are 63 percent more likely to die than people of a similar age who are not caregivers.
The good news is that home care can make it possible for you to take time to care for yourself. Home care providers can spend time with your aging relative while you take a break, exercise, or attend your own medical appointments.
Are you or a loved-one considering Home Care Services in McLean, VA? Please call the caring staff at Medical Professionals On Call today. Contact: 703-273-8818