Research shows the health of caregivers is at risk

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Caregivers in America are often unsung heroes. They often have to take on the responsibility of caring for another person while attempting to maintain their own lives.

More so than ever, caregivers are encouraged to prioritize their own health, in addition to those for whom they provide care. As this number of seniors increases, so will the number of caregivers needed to provide care.

Dr. Rajesh Bhakta, a Primary Care Physician at 4C Medical Group, said that a caregiver is anyone who provides care for a relative, friend or neighbor. That “care” includes anything that a loved one needs including assistance with finances, groceries, medical appointments and prescriptions.

According to the CDC  there are currently seven potential family caregivers per adult, and by 2030, there will only be four potential family caregivers per adult.

Research shows that the health of caregivers is greatly at risk. For example, in a 2020 report on caregiving in America conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, caregivers reported physical, emotional and financial strain with two in ten reporting they feel alone. One in four caregivers find it difficult to take care of their own health and a similar proportion report caregiving has made their own health worse.

“The average caretaker is 63 years-old and they’re taking care of someone 65 and older so,  as you can see they have their own set of health problems that needs to be addressed that go unchecked,” Dr. Bhakta said.

When a loved one needs a high amount of attention and or specialized care, there may be situations when caregivers need to step back and re-evaluate whether caregiving is the best option for themselves and the patient, Dr. Bhakta said.

For more resources, visit The Arizona Caregiver Coalition.

Dr. Rajesh Bhakta/Primary Care Physician, 4C Medical Group

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