25% of caregivers suffer from depression

April 28, 2011

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One in four caregivers for ill or elderly relatives and friends said in a survey released on Tuesday that they suffer from depression, a figure far higher than for the U.S. population in general.

By comparison, 9 percent of all Americans are estimated to suffer from depression, according to a study released last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

With the economy continuing to struggle and rising prices impacting Americans from coast to coast, caregivers are facing the increased burden of providing financial and emotional support to their loved ones. At the Aging in America Conference, Caring.com — the leading online destination for family caregivers — released the results of a new study, in which 86 percent of caregivers said that caregiving impacted their work situation because they had to take time away from their jobs, quit, retire early, reduce hours, or take a leave of absence (this excludes those who were already not working).

Twenty-five percent of respondents also stated that they suffer from depression, well above the national figure of 9 percent cited in a 2010 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To find support beyond family and friends, caregivers are turning to their churches, synagogues, mosques, or other religious organizations (31 percent). Family caregivers are also seeking support online (25 percent) via discussion forums, chat rooms, and through social networks such as Facebook.

Caring.com regularly surveys family caregivers and conducted this study in March 2011. Additional findings include:

  • A third (32 percent) of family caregivers spend more than 30 hours per week on caregiving tasks.
  • Seventy-seven percent of caregivers are concerned about the impact of their caregiving on their savings.
  • The majority of family caregivers suffer from their own health issues, including high blood pressure (35 percent), arthritis (30 percent), and high cholesterol (28 percent).
  • Over half (53 percent) of respondents report having trouble falling or staying asleep due to stress.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is particularly challenging. “Alzheimer’s caregivers who participated in this study rated caring for their loved one as their highest source of stress,” said Andy Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Caring.com. “Their unique needs led us to create Steps & Stages, which provides guidance and comfort to those in a role that can last many years and become increasingly intense as their loved one’s condition progresses.” More than 25,000 family caregivers are now receiving free, stage-appropriate help from Steps & Stages, which was launched in October 2010.

Source: Caring.com

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