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Benefits news: Help for caregiver stress

Oct 21, 2014

Caring for another person takes a lot of time, effort and work. Plus, most caregivers juggle caregiving with full-time jobs and parenting. In the process, caregivers put their own needs aside. Caregivers often report that it is difficult to look after their own health in terms of exercise, nutrition and doctor's visits. Many caregivers end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated and sad.

Caregivers for people with Alzheimer's disease or other kinds of dementia are particularly vulnerable to burnout. Research shows that most dementia caregivers suffer from depression and stress. Studies also show that the more hours a person spends on caregiving, the greater their risk of anxiety and depression.

Women caregivers are particularly prone to feeling stress and being overwhelmed. Studies show that female caregivers have more emotional and physical health problems, employment-related problems, and financial strain than male caregivers. Other research shows that people who care for their spouses are more prone to caregiving-related stress than those who care for other family members.

It is important to note that caring for another person can also create positive emotional change. Aside from feeling stress, many caregivers say their role has had many positive effects on their lives. For example, caregivers report that caregiving has given them a sense of purpose. They say that their role makes them feel useful and capable and that they are making a difference in the life of a loved one.

Your EAP (Employee Assistance Program) can help. For a list of symptoms of caregiver stress, log-in to EAP's Guidance Resources Online for articles and resources. Search Caregiver Stress for a helpful article on the subject, or look under Elder Care or Special Needs in the Relationships tab for articles and resources specific to those topics. (First-time users must enter EAPBusiness as your company Web ID and enter UNIVE as your employer name.)

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