Women and Caregiver Stress

Most Americans will be informal caregivers at some point during their lives.

Most caregivers are women and have paid jobs in addition to their caregiving.

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, relative, friend or neighbor. Women as caregivers often have 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.

Some women who are caregivers have stress and other health problems related to caregiving. Also some women have a higher risk for health problems from caregiver stress, including those who:

  • Care for a loved one who needs constant medical care and supervision – Women who are caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are more likely to have health problems and to be depressed than caregivers with conditions that do not require constant care.
  • Care for a spouse – Women who are caregivers of spouses are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol and are twice as likely to have heart disease as women who provide care for others, such as parents or children.

Women who are caregivers may be less likely to get regular health screenings. They also may be less likely to get enough sleep or regular physical activity.

What are the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress?

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling alone, isolated or deserted by others
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Becoming easily irritated or angered
  • Feeling worried or sad often
  • Having headaches or body aches often

What can you do to prevent or relieve caregiver stress?

  • Learn better ways to help your loved one – Search for classes in your hospital or community that can teach you how to care for someone with an illness
  • Find caregiver resources
  • Ask for and accept help – Make a list of ways others can help you and allow help
  • Join a support group for caregivers
  • Take time for yourself and take care of your health
  • Talk to your health care provider about symptoms and ways to relieve stress

Source: WomensHealth.gov

More Information

To learn more about UH Women’s Health Institute, or to speak to a navigator, please call 440-720-3262.

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