Caregiving refers to the activities and experiences involved in providing help and assistance to relatives who are unable to provide for themselves (Etters, Goodall, & Harrison, 2008). The term caregiver refers to anyone who provides assistance to someone else who is, in some degree, incapacitated and needs help. The National Survey of Caregiving in 2011 found that there were 18 million caregivers actively providing care to 9 million adults (Friedman et al, 2015). The same survey estimated that 8.5 million out of the total 18 million caregivers were providing care to recipients with possible or probable dementia, who did not live in nursing homes (Friedman et al., 2015). Caregiving can be highly stressful and challenging, particularly when caring for an individual with chronic and degenerative illnesses.
Caregivers report significantly more stress, depression, anxiety, negative health symptoms, and had lower self-efficacy to exercise, social support to exercise, and perceived greater exercise barriers than non-caregivers (Marquez, Bustamante, Kozey-Keadle, Kraemer, & Carrion, 2012). In addition, it also lead to a strained relationship with the care recipient, feelings of burden and burnout, decreased social activity, and decreased productivity at work (Braun et al., 2009; Elnasseh et al., 2016). There are several variables that are associated with a higher risk of developing stress in caregivers, including the caregiver’s gender, age, physical and mental health status, and employment status.
Caregiver burden (CB) has been described as including the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and financial stresses that individuals experience due to providing care; however, it can be focused on some or all of these facets (Bastawrous, 2013). Caregiver burden comes from the caregiver’s perceptions of activities and stressors and is influenced by many factors such as kinship, social environment, and culture. Caregivers experiencing CB often report more family dysfunction and decreased social support. It is important for caregivers to incorporate activities they enjoy into their everyday life to reduce the stress and feelings of burden that can come up when caring for a relative. Caregivers that engage in activities they enjoy on a regular basis have been found to provide better care to their relatives due to not feeling as burdened or stress. Activities can include exercising, reading a book, watching favorite television show and/or movie, going for a walk, etc. If you or someone you know is struggling with stress from caregiving, there are many resources available to assist in the process of support, coping, and problem-solving, including professional counseling. Call (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services, which include one-on-one therapy with a trained clinician.
Author: Christina Vroman, M.A.
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Friedman, E. M., Shih, R. A., Langa, K. M., & Hurd, M. D. (2015). US Prevalence And Predictors Of Informal Caregiving For Dementia. Health Affairs, 34(10), 1637-1641.
Marquez, D. X., Bustamante, E. E., Kozey-Keadle, S., Kraemer, J., & Carrion, I. (2012). Feature article: Physical activity and psychosocial and mental health of older caregivers and non-caregivers. Geriatric Nursing, 33, 358-365. doi:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2012.03.003