Family caregivers pay emotional and physical price, study says
Baltimore – Do you care for an aging parent or grandparent? Does the caregiving experience sometimes cause emotional difficulty, financial problems, fatigue or time-management issues?
A recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concluded that family members and other unpaid caregivers form an “invisible workforce” that often pays a price when it comes to their own health and work.
Researchers analyzed a pair of 2011 national surveys that included more than 1,700 unpaid caregivers and nearly 1,200 older adults with disabilities. Based on the findings, researchers estimated 14.7 million unpaid caregivers helped 7.7 million older adults in 2011.
Caregivers who provided substantial health care assistance were more than twice as likely to report caregiving-related emotional difficulty and more than 3 times as likely to report physical difficulty. The same group of caregivers also was more than 3 times as likely to report financial difficulty and lose work productivity.
“A lot of work goes into managing the care of people with complex health needs, and this work is borne not only by health care providers and patients, but also by their families,” Dr. Jennifer Wolff, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a press release. “The more we know about this invisible workforce, the better we will be able to develop strategies that include unpaid caregivers as part of patients’ health care team.”
The study was published online Feb. 15 in JAMA Internal Medicine.