An Introduction to Caregiver Mental and Emotional Health

mental health

As a caregiver, you dedicate your life to taking care of others but what about when it comes to taking care of yourself?

Caregiving is a difficult job; at times, it can require a lot of physical strength as well mental endurance. As such, it can be pretty easy to burn out if you don’t take care of yourself properly.

Throughout this series, we’re going to talk about caregiver health, specifically focusing on mental health from the basics, to how you can detect if you or a caregiver you know is suffering from stress, to ways you can take care of your well-being.

To start, we’ll outline some basics on why it is important to consider your own mental health. Take a look below:

Some statistics

On depression

  • According to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), a community-based nonprofit organization that focuses specifically on caregiver support, studies have shown higher levels of depression and mental health problems among caregivers compared to non-caregivers.
  • The FCA also reports that between 40 to 70% of caregivers show symptoms of clinical depression, with approximately 25-50% of these caregivers meeting the level of major depression.

On anxiety

  • It has also been reported that caregivers experience a high amount of stress and anxiety, with about 16% of caregivers stating that they feel emotionally drained, and 26% stating that taking care of a patient or loved one can be hard on them emotionally, according to one report.

Why this occurs

Reasons for why depression and anxiety occur among caregivers may vary, though there are a few more common reasons:

  • The passing of a caregivee (related or non-related)
  • Dealing with a difficult patient/family member
  • Watching the decline in health of a loved one or patient
  • Feelings of failure or regret for sending a loved one into a nursing home after trying to take care of them
  • Lack of progress in care

The effects of poor mental health

Poor mental health (i.e., depression and anxiety) can lead to a number of risks for the caregiver, with about one in ten (11%, to be exact) of caregivers reporting that caregiving has caused their physical health to get worse. Here are just a few of the effects of poor mental health:

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and high blood pressure
  • Symptoms of chronic illness such as acid reflux, headaches, and pain
  • Increased risk of obesity and diabetes
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Overall, a decrease in immune response

Higher mortality rates for caregivers

Perhaps one of the greatest risks that caregiver stress poses is an increase in mortality rate. The FCA reports that elderly spousal caregivers (aged 66-96) who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.

Caregiver stress is not inevitable

Caregiver stress is common, however, it is not an inevitable part of caregiving. With diligence and self-awareness, caregivers can fight off stress and fatigue, in turn ensuring that they’re able to provide the best health possible to their loved ones without sacrificing their own health.

On Wednesday, we’ll discuss ways to tell if you or a caregiver you know is suffering from caregiver stress. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to give us a call. We’re always here to help!

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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