Caregiver Distress: The Health Risks Of Caring For Aging Loved Ones

10:49 PM, Jul 22, 2013   |    comments
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When you're a child, your parents are your entire world. They teach you, they clothe you, they love you.

As you grow up, you learn how to do things on your own. Your parents watch from the sidelines as you graduate from high school, earn a college degree, get married, and start a family.

But as time goes by, roles start to reverse. Parents need their children to take care of them. In fact, according to a 2009 AARP survey, 42-million Americans are now caring for their moms and dads. They're doing it while juggling their own hectic lives.

While it might be the right thing to do, it can lead to more problems than you might expect.

WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford learned about "caregiver distress" and why it's a real problem.

Brad Johnson talked to News 2 about his experience. He's an only child and now his mom needs him more than ever.

"I progressively moved further and further away from her because we were so close because I am her only child and she raised me as a single parent, I think we dealt with kind of the guilt and anxiety with that," said Johnson.

Just recently, Brad's 81-year-old mother, Bonnie was diagnosed with dementia. Before the diagnosis, he used to call a few times a week and visit every few weeks. Now, he calls at least once a day. He's even moving his mother to a townhouse in Greensboro to be close to him.

Johnson said, "Having to watch your parent slowly deteriorate right before your eyes when you knew what they were like just a short time ago, I think is wearing on me as well."

Leslie Sanders works for Home Instead Senior Care. Sanders said the impact can be emotional, physical, or both.

"Women who are caregivers often suffer from more of the emotional symptoms of distress. They feel anxiety and depression. What's interesting is that men tend to express their distress physically," explained Sanders.

According to a Metlife study, 20% of female caregivers 50-years and older reported symptoms of depression. Caregiver distress can also trigger things like heart disease, diabetes, sleep deprivation, and poor eating habits.

Sometimes caregivers don't recognize that they are caregivers. They just think of themselves of a helpful daughter or son. It's important to recognize your role as a caregiver to help manage the stress.

Take This Quiz: Are You A Caregiver?

Access This Website: Family Caregiver Stress Relief

WFMY News 2, USA Today

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