Most caregivers said there's been a decline in their healthy behaviors, such as exercising (69 percent), good eating habits (56 percent), and having regular doctor and dentists appointments (58 percent). Many also reported weight gain/loss (66 percent), depression (63 percent), stress or anxiety (88 percent), and sleep deprivation (77 percent).
The study also found that 43 percent of caregivers provide more than 40 hours a week of care. Of the 68 percent who had jobs when they started caregiving, 47 percent had to stop working or take early retirement and 62 percent had to reduce their work hours.
The study was funded by United Health Foundation.
"The family caregivers who serve our country's veterans are making huge sacrifices in terms of their own health, careers and home life," Dr. Reed Tuckson, foundation board member and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group, said in the news release.
Despite their willingness to serve as caregivers, he said, "it is incumbent upon all of us to help them find support and solutions to preserve their own health and well being, as well as that of the veteran. It is important that relatives, friends, and neighbors seek out opportunities to provide respite and other supportive services to these caregivers."
The Family Caregiver Alliance explains how caregivers can look after themselves.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: United Health Foundation, news release, Nov. 10, 2010
All rights reserved