Caregiver Distress: Is Your Health At Risk?


By Julie Montanaro
May 31, 2013

Are you caring for a loved one with cancer or Alzheimer's?

A recent study says chances are you are fatigued, depressed and could be putting your own health at risk.

Mary Bown works full time and is the primary care giver for her husband Vancey.

"By the end of the day I'm exhausted," she laughs.

The couple has been married 26 years, but their lives have changed drastically since Vancey was diagnosed with Alzheimers five years ago.

"I don't have any time for me. It's we," Bown said. "It's 24-7, 365. I get a little relief from my son."

Vancey doesn't say much anymore except an occasional 'I love you.'

Bown says it's terribly lonely and the stress is taking a toll on her body too. Her weight and blood pressure are both up.

"It affects you physically, mentally, spiritually," said Marc Moncrief with Home Instead Senior Care. "It can be devastating if you're not taking care of yourself."

A new study by Home Instead Senior Care shows many caregivers suffer in silence. 74% of caregivers report fatigue, 53% have trouble sleeping, 37% are depressed and another 30% experience weight gain or loss.

"The whole point of this is really to tell caregivers that it's important they take care of themselves. The longer and better they take care of themselves, the longer and better they can take care of their loved one," Moncrief said.

Home Instead encourages caregivers to get help. Whether it's joining a support group, learning some stress-relief techniques, or finding someone to give you an occasional break.

Bown said the Alzheimer's Project support group has made a tremendous difference in her life. "I finally was like, I need this for me," she said. Bown was recently named the agency's caregiver of the year.

You can find a caregiver distress assessment and helpful tips at www.FamilyCaregiverStressRelief.com


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