Caregivers care for someone with an illness, injury, or disability. Caregiving can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Stress from caregiving is common. Women especially are at risk for the harmful health effects of caregiver stress. These health problems may include depression or anxiety. There are ways to manage caregiver stress.
What is a caregiver?
A caregiver is anyone who provides care for another person in need, such as a child, an aging parent, a husband or wife, a relative, friend, or neighbor. A caregiver also may be a paid professional who provides care in the home or at a place that is not the person's home.
People who are not paid to give care are called informal caregivers or family caregivers. This fact sheet focuses on family caregivers who provide care on a regular basis for a loved one with an injury, an illness such as: Dementia", or a disability. The family caregiver often has to manage the person's daily life. This can include helping with daily tasks like bathing, eating, or taking medicine. It can also include arranging activities and making health and financial decisions.
Who are caregivers?
Most Americans will be informal caregivers at some point during their lives. A 2012 survey found that 36% of Americans provided unpaid care to another adult with an illness or disability in the past year.
That percentage is expected to go up as the proportion of people in the United States who are elderly increases. Also, changes in health care mean family caregivers now provide more home-based medical care. Nearly half of family caregivers in the survey said they give injections or manage medicines daily. Also, most caregivers are women.
And nearly three in five family caregivers have paid jobs in addition to their caregiving.
Pew Research Center. (2013). As population ages, more Americans becoming caregivers. FactTank: News in the Numbers.
National Alliance for Caregiving, in collaboration with AARP. (2015).
Caregiving in the U.S., 2015
American Psychological Association. (2012).
Stress in America: Our Health at Risk. APA: Washington, DC.
Pinquart, M., & Sorensen, S. (2003).
Differences between caregivers and noncaregivers in psychological health and physical health: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 18(2), 250–267.
Lee, S., Colditz, G. A., Berkman, L. F., & Kawachi, I. (2003).