The Affordable Care Act and Caregivers Research Brief . Health Challenges of Informal Caregivers

07/13/2015

Providing this assistance can take a toll on caregivers' mental or physical health, which consequently affects their ability to provide care for their loved one. Informal caregivers have a number of risk factors for poor health:

  • Family caregivers are at higher risk for stress related illnesses and suffer from depression (13.2 percent) at twice the national rate.2

  • 67 percent of unpaid American caregivers said they do not go to the doctor because they put family needs first.3

  • Half (51 percent) said they do not have time to take care of themselves and almost half (49 percent) said they are too tired to do so. Just over half (53 percent) of caregivers who said their health had gotten worse due to caregiving also said the decline in their health has affected their ability to provide care.3

  • Elderly spouses who reported that caregiving caused an emotional strain had a 63 percent higher mortality rate than older adults whose spouses did not require care.4

Caregivers are frequently so engaged in the care of the person they are helping that their own health may not be a top priority. Due to financial or time constraints, informal caregivers may go without health care, or ignore the myriad of physical and mental health concerns they often face.

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