Not only do caregivers spend many more hours a week providing care, but they also report more work problems, personal stress, physical and mental health problems, lack of sleep, less time doing things they like, less time spending with other family members, and more family conflicts than those without dementia. Excessive stress, especially over a long time, can damage your health. As a caregiver, you're more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or exercise, or eat a balanced diet, increasing your risk of health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
There are nearly 21 million Americans struggling with depression at any given time. And as a caregiver, you're at greater risk of depression than the average person. Why? Because many caregivers sacrifice their own physical and emotional needs for the sake of their loved ones. The caregiving process can test even the most capable person.
The resulting feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation, exhaustion (and then guilt) can have a big impact. Family Caregiver Alliance: a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of family caregivers and those receiving their care. Find friends, family, and temporary care providers to act as caregivers so you can spend time away from home. With more than 43.5 million caregivers providing unpaid care to children and adults, caregiver depression is a complex challenge faced by a large segment of the population.
That's why approximately 6 out of 10 caregivers say their eating habits have worsened, according to a survey conducted in collaboration with the National Alliance for Child Care. Fewer than 1 in 10 caregivers are paid for what they do, and it's common for caregivers to spend their own money helping to support their loved one. That UCLA research also found that caregivers tend to smoke and drink excessively more often than people who are not caregivers. Assuming all caregiving responsibilities without regular breaks or assistance is a sure-fire recipe for caregiver exhaustion.
Resources for caregivers: support for caregivers of adults, children, people with disabilities and mental disorders, veterans, and more.