Although most caregivers are in good health, it is not uncommon for caregivers to have serious health problems. Research shows that caregivers:Are more likely to be have symptoms of depression or anxiety Are more likely to have a long-term medical problem, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or arthritis Have higher levels of stress hormones Spend more days sick with an infectious disease Have a weaker immune response to the influenza, or flu, vaccine Have slower wound healing Have higher levels of obesity May be at higher risk for mental decline, including problems with memory and paying attention
One research study found that elderly people who felt stressed while taking care of their disabled spouses were 63 percent more likely to die within 4 years than caregivers who were not feeling stressed.
Part of the reason that caregivers often have health problems is that they are less likely to take good care of themselves. For instance, women caregivers, compared with women who are not caregivers, are less likely to:Get needed medical care Fill a prescription because of the cost Get a mammogram
Also, caregivers report that, compared with the time before they became caregivers, they are less likely to:Get enough sleep Cook healthy meals Get enough physical activity This answer is based on the source infromation from the National Women's Health Information Center