There are an estimated 65 million people in the United States serving as caregivers for ill or disabled relatives.
There are an estimated 65 million people in the United States serving as caregivers for ill or disabled relatives. Their average age is 49 years old, and the majority are women. Most of the time those we are caring for are our mothers, fathers, siblings or children. Caregivers are under a tremendous amount of stress as they try to juggle existing demands and meet new needs as a caregiver. Overly stressed caregivers are more likely to have:
- Long-term medical conditions
- Weaker immune systems
- Slower wound healing
- Higher risk for mental decline
The Stress in America survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, reports that “older adults in caregiver roles may be particularly vulnerable because caregiving demands may tax their health and physical abilities and compromise their immune response systems; similarly, the stress associated with caregiving can exacerbate existing chronic health conditions.”
This is why women — and men — caring for others need to take care of themselves. So what can you do?
- Recognize and reduce your stress.
- Recognize things you can change and things you can’t change.
- Take time for yourself by eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and having regular medical checkups.
- Know when to ask for help.
Caring for others is often just a fact of life, but it’s impossible to do a good job if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Here are additional resources for caregivers: