Caregivers Health a Concern in New Study

February 7, 2012
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Caregiving Costs: Declining Health in the Alzheimer’s Caregiver as Dementia Increases in the Care Recipient released by the National Alliance for Caregiving shows a significant decrease in family caregiver health over time and increased personal healthcare costs, as their care recipient’s dementia increases. 
The study was conducted by examining the use of formal health services in a large sample of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) caregivers.
The findings suggest that the strain of caring for someone with AD can cause family caregivers to use health care services at higher rates than non-caregivers of the same age. 
  • Caregivers showed a 25% increase in the utilization of all types of services combined over the 18-month time period of the study.
     
  • The results suggest that caregiver assessments would be valuable in identifying those at risk of having their own health decline.
     
  • The report also suggests that primary care doctors should be sensitive to whether their middle-aged and older patients are family caregivers. They should be asking “Are you caring for a relative or friend?” as a potential risk factor that may cause stress or even physical strain.
This is not surprising. Past studies have shown that caregiver health is often worse than the health of the person they are caring for and in fact there is a significant percentage of caregivers who die before they one they are caring for passes.

Do you know who is caring for an elderly relative in your community? Reach out and help if you can.