Study finds Alzheimer's caregivers experience significant emotional, physical stress

Apr 29, 2011

Alzheimer's caregivers report high levels of physical and emotional stress, according to a new report.

Americans who are caring for relatives afflicted with Alzheimer's disease are more likely to experience high levels of physical and emotional stress, according to a new report from the Alzheimer's Association.

There are about 15 million unpaid caregivers for the nation's 5.4 million Alzheimer's patients, reported the source, whose services are valued at approximately $202 billion. Eighty percent of care provided at home is delivered by family caregivers, 61 percent of whom reported experiencing high to very high levels of emotional stress. In addition, 57 percent said they experienced high to very high levels of physical stress as well.

The drastic physical impact is reflected in caregiver Body Mass Indexes, according to the report. Sixty-six percent of caregivers surveyed were either overweight or obese, a condition that is associated with multiple chronic illnesses. The stress of the job may also manifest itself in other physiological ways, reported the source, with many caregivers experiencing hypertension, coronary heart disease and slow wound healing. Moreover, 33 percent of those surveyed said they experienced symptoms of depression.

Some life insurance policies include long-term care benefits that can reduce the stress on loved one's if the policyholder is stricken with an illness requiring full-time care. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, even if a policy does not include long-term care, many companies offer optional riders that can be attached to a plan.  

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