Back in 2003, Dr. Peter Vitaliano led a study involving more than 3,000 family caregivers. He chose men and women between the ages of 55 and 75. What he found was that the stress hormone levels in family caregivers increased by an average of 23 percent. Caregivers also had antibody responses that were 15 percent less.
This study showed a correlation between caregiving and a weaker immune response and higher prevalence to high stress. High stress is risky because it can impact blood sugar and blood pressure readings. While that was more than a decade ago, the increase in Alzheimer’s disease and number of elderly adults in the nation has more families becoming their parents’ caregivers.
Caregivers are also more likely to focus on the care they provide and ignore their own needs. They often skip regular check-ups due to a lack of time. If they commute to and from their parents’ home, they’re more likely to turn to fast food or takeout over a home-cooked meal. It’s simply easier to grab something quick during the drive home.
Additional Studies Found Something Alarming
An additional study found something that alarmed medical professionals. When a family caregiver provides care to someone with dementia, studies found that the stress levels and immune response didn’t rebound when the care ended. The impact on your health can last years.
In this study, two doctors looked at caregivers during and after caring ended. There were no improvements in immune function years later. After three years, family caregivers had not recovered. This increases the risk of chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and susceptibility to viruses like colds and the flu.
Knowing When You’re Burned Out
Do you find yourself feeling apathetic? Do you just not care anymore? That’s one sign of caregiver burnout. You may feel sad, agitated, angry, moody, exhausted, or just unwell. If you’ve reached that point, it’s vital that you seek out help. Those are indicators that you’ve burned out and need help.
You need help from two sources. First, talk to a doctor. Make sure that you don’t have additional health problems causing some of the symptoms you feel. It may benefit you to start seeing a therapist for depression. Second, arrange home care services. Let professional caregivers take over while you take a break from caregiving duties.
Your mom or dad may not love the idea of someone else helping them with activities of daily living. You need to make it clear that your mental and physical health is a problem right now. You need to focus on making yourself better. Your parents should agree that your health is important. Call a home care agency to start arranging caregiver services immediately.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home care in Naples, FL, call the caring staff at Dial-a-Nurse today. Naples: (239) 307-0033. Ft. Myers: (239) 307-0065.
In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.
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